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Friday November 19, 1999VB Advances to SEC Tournament Semis, Sweeps LSU

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.

No. 4 Florida tied its best blocking effort in a three-game match this season to advance to the Southeastern Conference Tournament semifinals with a 15-8, 15-7, 15-7 win over eighth-seeded Louisiana State Friday at the Stokely Athletics Center.

Florida put up 12 blocks (2 solos, 20 assists), led by two-time All-SEC player Heather Wright (Martinsville, Ind./Martinsville). She had a match-high eight blocks and hit .571 with eight kills and no errors on 14 attempts. Senior setter Jen Sanchez (San Antonio, Texas/Providence) was second. The two-time All-SEC honoree had seven blocks while hitting a match-high .625 with six kills and dishing out 31 assists.

First-team All-SEC performer Jenny Whitehead (Jenison, Mich./Jenison/Michigan State) led all hitters with 10 kills and a match-high 13 digs for her seventh double-double on the year. Jerilyn Hattendorf (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles) was second with 10 digs.

As a team, the Gators out-hit the Tigers .245-.035 and out-dug them 51-31.

"We didn't play our best volleyball of the year," Florida Coach Mary Wise said. "But, we played well enough to win. I give credit to LSU and their middle blocker (Megan Davis). She's been outstanding for them all season. We have been such a great offensive team this season, and when things weren't going as usual, we sort of forgot to get back and play defense. Once we got into a blocking rhythm, everything got back on track. Heather Wright certainly played like an All-American today."

Davis, a 1999 first-team All-SEC player, had a team-high nine kills for LSU. She added three blocks.

Whitehead led Florida in overcoming an LSU 5-1 blocking advantage in the first game with five kills and a .444 hitting efficiency. She also added four digs and an ace. Florida hit .256 to the Tigers' .167.

In the second game, the Gators came back from a 6-2 deficit. With Hattendorf at the line serving, Florida strung together seven unanswered points to go ahead 9-6. Sanchez and Wright combined for six blocks and a kill apiece in that series. For the game, the Gators out-blocked the Tigers 6-1 to hold them to a -0.22 hitting percentage. Florida hit .194.

The Gators dominated the third frame. LSU had a .000 offensive effort while Florida put up a match-best .286. Florida also out-blocked the Tigers again 5-0.

The Gators will play No. 4 Tennessee (19-12, 8-6 SEC) in the semifinals Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The Lady Vols defeated No. 5 Auburn (18-11, 8-7 SEC) 3-1 Friday night. WRUF-AM 850 will broadcast the match live from the Stokely Athletics Center.

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