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Saturday November 27, 1999VB Wins Conference Challenge

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.

The fourth-ranked Florida volleyball team ended its regular season with its fifth straight 30-win campaign and the Florida Volleyball Conference Challenge title at the Disney’s Wide World of Sports by sweeping Marquette 15-3, 15-5, 15-6 Saturday afternoon.

The blocking game was the difference for the Gators (30-2), who picked up their 26th straight win as they out-blocked the Golden Eagles (18-13) 12 to 1. Freshman Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas/Pine Tree) put up a match-high nine blocks. Offensively, the Gators doubled the Golden Eagles in kills with 34. Florida hit .324 to Marquette’s -.130.

Junior All-America canditate Heather Wright (Martinsville, Ind./Martinsville) led the way for the Gators, finishing with a .636 hitting efficiency.

The Gators started the match on a roll, jumping to a 5-0 lead in the first game. Senior All-America Jenny Manz (Orange Park, Fla./Middleburg) had four kills on five attempts to hit .800 and help the Gators to a match-high .467 hitting efficiency.

In the third game, the Gators got in sync, finishing with eight blocks, all of which McCray was a part. Wright hit .800 with four kills.

"The key for us today was that we took away what Marquette does best (serving) by passing really well," Coach Mary Wise said. "Kris Bova and Niki Hartley passed really well, and that with our blocks made the difference. We also knew that Nicole McCray had to block well to take away their strengths."

Senior All-America Jennifer Sanchez (San Antonio, Texas/Providence), senior Jenny Whitehead (Jenison, Mich./Jenison/Michigan State) and Wright joined tournament MVP Manz on the all-tournament team. Rounding out the all-tournament team were Kentucky’s Jaclyn Homan, South Florida’s Rachelle Paul and Chris Curtain of Marquette.

In the first action of the day, Kentucky (16-15) downed South Florida (15-18) 10-15, 15-11, 15-3 and 15-13.

The Gators await their seeding in the 1999 NCAA Championship. Florida received the SEC’s automatic bid after capturing its seventh league tournament title. The 64-team bracket will be announced Sunday, Nov. 28 at 10 p.m. Sunshine Network will broadcast it live.

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