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Spartans have few problems in dominating Florida Tech

By ROD GIPSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 22, 2000


TAMPA -- Tampa and Florida Tech's volleyball programs couldn't be further apart. In 40 matches heading into Saturday, the Panthers had managed exactly zero wins over the Spartans.

And coming into their most recent, Tampa had the advantage of a four-match winning streak and a No. 10 ranking in the country.

Little changed as UT dominated up front on its way to a 15-12, 15-4, 15-9 victory. The win improves the Spartans to 19-3 overall and 7-0 in Sunshine State Conference play and maintains their grip on first place with three weeks left in the regular season.

Florida Tech stands at 5-12 and 2-5 in the conference.

"We weren't exactly prepared to play a hard match," UT coach Chris Catanach said. "But we got going, and it led to us playing well in the second and third matches."

But as lopsided as the score became, the Panthers played well enough in spurts to temporarily frustrate the Spartans. Florida Tech closed to within 13-12 in the opening game before losing and came back strong in Game 3 after the blowout in Game 2. And when the Panthers took a 3-0 lead to open the third game, avoiding a sweep looked possible.

That's when Tampa's Lisa Webster made her entrance.

Helping fill the void left by the absence of senior outside hitter Kam Gillispie (abdominal strain), Webster stepped in with 11 kills, including three in a row in a key stretch that halted a Panther rally. "She played real inspired for us," Catanach said.

"She picked it up when we needed it, and she was a key for us."

Freshmen outside hitters Ania Ruiz and Sandi Fox were solid throughout the match, combining for 25 kills and 19 digs.

And sophomore middle hitter Tiffany Boatwright had five blocks and six kills.

Florida Tech was led by Natalia Acevedo, who had 14 kills and 10 digs.

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