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USC stays perfect, tops UF

By wire services
Published December 21, 2003

DALLAS - Keao Burdine had 23 kills and 17 digs as Southern California won its second straight NCAA women's volleyball championship with a 3-1 victory over Florida on Saturday in front of 7,261.

The Women of Troy (35-0) became the first repeat champion to go undefeated and extended their NCAA-record 47-match win streak. It is the school's third title overall.

Burdine led a balanced attack as April Ross and Bibiana Candelas each had 14 kills. Emily Adams added 10 kills as USC won 25-30, 30-27, 30-19, 30-26.

The past three losses for the Gators (37-2) have come to USC.

Florida coach Mary Wise was attempting to become the first woman volleyball coach to lead her team to the NCAA title.

Aury Cruz led third-seeded Florida with 18 kills and 18 digs. Jane Collymore had 15 kills and Jacque Robinson 14.

The Women of Troy took control midway through the third game, going on a 10-2 run to take a 23-15 lead.

A service ace by Adams followed by an attack error from Cruz gave USC a 23-15 lead. The Women of Troy also scored five points off the service of Ross during their run; Ross' kill gave USC the victory.

In the fourth game, the Gators cut USC's lead to 25-23 on a Collymore kill. But the Women of Troy scored five of the final eight points and closed out the game on a spike by Candelas.

"Florida kicked it up and came out after us," USC coach Mick Haley said. "It was almost like, "Okay, we need to do this again,' and they went out there and did it. I'm truly proud of this team.' "

Florida won the first game thanks to Collymore's nine kills, but USC tied the match at one game each by scoring five of game two's final eight points and taking advantage of nine Florida errors.

Burdine had six kills in the game for USC and finished as the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.

"USC is a terrific team with talent," Wise said. "They overcame our great effort with great size. Our team showed a lot of fight in battling a great team."

Cruz and Collymore were named to the championship All-Tournament team with USC's Burdine, Ross and Candelas.

"I will always remember this," Cruz said. "We've worked hard all season. This was the best season. Getting to the final game is one of the best things I could ever feel."

[Last modified December 21, 2003, 01:16:22]

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