Saturday November 20, 1999VB Sweeps Tennessee, To Face Arkansas in SEC Final
The fourth-ranked Florida volleyball team swept No. 4-seed Tennessee 15-10, 15-5, 15-2 Saturday afternoon at the Stokely Athletics Center to earn a chance to defend its Southeastern Conference title against last year's runner-up second seeded Arkansas.
The Gators (27-2), who hit at a .385 clip to Tennessee's (19-13) .024, have won 23 straight matches and 41 consecutive games. The teams tied with four blocks each, but the Gators' 40-23 digs advantage made the difference, defensively.
Florida rebounded from a first-game scare in which UT rallied from an 11-4 deficit. The Lady Vols posted their best offensive effort of the match, .091, to break the Gator's streak of 24 games without allowing more than eight points.
"After the point in game one where we got caught making some uncharacteristic errors, we played low error volleyball," Coach Mary Wise said. "We felt that playing Tennessee the third time and in this environment, we would have to play very well in order to beat them. We wanted to beat them in three games. That was our goal."
The Gators came back with a bang, posting .441 and .556 hitting efficiencies in the second and third games, respectively to extend their sweeps streak to 13 consecutive matches. It was Florida's third sweep of the Lady Vols this season and second meeting in less than a month.
Florida's four first-team All-SEC players put up stellar performances. Jenny Whitehead (Jenison, Mich./Jenison/Michigan State) posted a match-high 10 kills and three blocks, and added two aces. Junior Jenny Manz (Orange Park, Fla./Middleburg) was second with nine. Heather Wright (Martinsville, Ind./Martinsville) netted a match-high .667 hitting efficiency with six kills and no errors on nine attempts. She added two blocks. Setter Jen Sanchez (San Antonio, Texas/Providence) hit .600 (3-0-5), her 10th errorless performance this season, and added 26 assists and a match-high eight digs. Junior Jerilyn Hattendorf (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles) was close behind Manz with eight kills.
The Gators face second-seeded Arkansas (27-5, 14-1 SEC), which is nationally ranked No. 24, Sunday at 1 p.m. to defend their title at 1 p.m. The teams have faced each other in the finals for the past four seasons. Florida is 3-1 against the Lady'Backs in the tournament. WRUF-AM 850 and FOX Sports South will broadcast the match live. The Sunshine Network will air the contest in Florida.