Thursday December 2, 1999Volleyball Sweeps Liberty, To Face Illinois Friday
No. 4 Florida swept Liberty by scores of 15-4, 15-1 and 15-2 Thursday in front of 1,296 fans to advance to face Illinois in the second round of the NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center.
The match improved the Gators to 31-2 and dropped the Flames to 22-10 on the season. Florida posted 33 team kills for a .313 hitting percentage to Liberty's 24 kills for a -.041 hitting percentage.
Florida senior outside hitter Jenny Whitehead (Jenison, Mich./Jenison/Michigan State) posted 12 kills for a .524 hitting percentage while adding six digs and three block assists. Florida's defense dominated the match, recording 10 blocks to Liberty's one. Junior Heather Wright (Martinsville, Ind./Martinsville) led the defensive effort with four blocks assists and one solo block. Freshman Nicole McCray (Longview, Texas/Pine Tree) had five block assists and five kills.
Liberty's defense contained Florida in the early part of Game 1 as the Flames led 4-3 at one point before the Gators scored 12 unanswered points to take the win.
Florida head coach Mary Wise felt that her team's ability to combat Liberty's defense in the first game was key in the three-game victory. "There was a point in Game 1 when Liberty was digging so well. They had 19 digs. We felt that Liberty gave us their best knock-out punch at 4-4," Wise said.
Liberty head coach Chris Phillips felt her team's passing may have cost them the match. "We played very well in the first game, unfortunately our passing broke down early and we didn't retain it very well. If we could have passed better we could have stayed in the game," Phillips said.
In the first match of the day, Illinois defeated the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 3-1. Illinois (17-10) had 82 kills for a .268 attack percentage with 69 digs and 13 team blocks. UW-M (25-4) had 68 kills for a .187 attack percentage with 67 digs and nine team blocks.
Illinois' offense dominated the first game with 21 kills holding UW-M to a .140 attack percentage to take the 15-13 win. The Panthers defense contained Illinois in Game 2 posting 16 digs and four team blocks en route to the 15-10 win. Illinois went on to win the final two games by scores of 15-12 and 15-6.
Illinois head coach Don Hardin said his team came prepared for today's match. "We came into this match focusing all week on UW-Milwaukee. It's been a challenging year for us. We spent all of our time preparing for this team, which we knew had already beaten two Big 10 teams."
The Fighting Illini had five players with double-digit kills and four players with double-doubles. Junior middle blocker Betsy Spicer posted 18 kills for a .275 attack percentage and added 12 digs and six block assists. Sophomore Lydia Gard recorded 17 kills for a match-leading .519 attack percentage.
The Panthers were led by senior Ericka Malterer's 19 kills and 10 digs with one service ace. Outside hitter Laura Dallenbach posted 18 kills and 14 digs with five block assists. Julie Yankus and Sue Raschka both added 10 kills.
Illinois will face Florida in Round Two of the tournament Friday at 7 p.m. WRUF-AM 850 will broadcast the match live. Tickets are available at Gate 1 of the O'Connell Center, beginning at 5:30 p.m., ($6 general admission, $5 students and senior citizens, $3 children 12 and under) or at the UAA Ticket Office. The first 300 UF students will be admitted free with their ID's. Call 1-800-34-GATOR (in Florida only) or (352) 375-GoUF for more information.