Trojans Swamp Gators To Advance To NCAA Regional Final!

Dec. 7, 2000

LOS ANGELES -- Freshman April Ross recorded a match-high 19 kills as the No. 2 USC Trojans registered a three-game sweep Thursday over the No. 10 Florida Gators, 15-13, 15-13, 15-11, in an NCAA Pacific Regional Semifinal at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The Trojans advance to their first regional final since 1994, where Stanford swept USC in three games in the West Regional Final.

USC will play Penn State in the NCAA Pacific Regional Final on Friday (Dec. 8) at 4:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Penn State, the defending NCAA champion, advanced to the regional final earlier with a four-game win over the Colorado State Rams (9-15, 15-11, 15-12, 15-7).

'It's the NCAA Tournament and people are just not going to give you the match,' said USC Interim Head Coach Jerritt Elliott. 'Florida fought hard. They played really consistent and aggressive. The key for us is that we need to continue to be aggressive past 14 points.'

Junior Jennifer Pahl had 14 kills and a .379 hitting percentage for the Trojans while senior Janae Henry had 10 kills, a .381 hitting percentage and five service aces. Aury Cruz led the Gators with 17 kills, but only hit .094 on 53 attempts.

The Trojans hit .267 for the match while holding the Gators to a .231 mark.

The match, in front of a crowd of 1,286, saw wild swings of momentum on both ends of the spectrum. USC led 12-4 at one point during the first game, but had to hold off a fierce rally by Florida, the Southeastern Conference champion. The Gators used a 9-2 run and served down only one point at 14-13, but the Trojans got the side out and recorded the game-winner on the next serve.

The Trojans started strong again in the second game, but had to survive another Florida rally. With USC up 7-5, the Trojans were able to hold off the Gators, using a key 7-1 run. With several game points against them, the Gators were able to rattle off eight unanswered points.

USC used a key substitution, inserting freshman middle blocker Kelli Lantz into the lineup on Florida's serve. Lantz recorded a key block and then followed with a kill on another sideout for the Trojans. On USC's serve, sophomore setter Tracy Lindquist snuck a two-handed shot between Florida's defense for the game-winner.

The third game began with both teams working to a 3-3 tie. USC took the lead again with four straight points, but down 7-3, Florida once again fought back. The Gators used three straight points to get back into the game before both teams alternated points to a 9-8 USC advantage. Similar to the previous two games, USC pushed the Gators to the brink with a 5-1 run.

With several match points against them, the Gators used another rally to cut the Trojans' lead to 14-11, but freshman setter Toni Anderson used a sneak kill to finish the sweep for USC. The Trojans had their best hitting performance in the third game with a .354 hitting percentage.

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