WHEN/WHERE: Friday-Sunday; Stokely Athletics Center, Knoxville, Tenn.
TOURNAMENT FAVORITE: Florida. The Gators own the SEC. Florida is the No. 1 seed after earning its ninth undefeated regular-season title, its seventh consecutive. The Gators are the 2000 defending tournament champions and are seeking their ninth title in 10 years. Florida is 32-9 overall and 28-2 under coach Mary Wise.
TEAMS TO WATCH: South Carolina. The Gamecocks have had consecutive strong seasons and are the only conference foe to give Florida strong competition.
WHAT UF HAS TO DO: The same things it has done all season _ outhit opponents and play strong defense. Florida is outhitting opponents .321 to .089 and has 315 more kills. The Gators must continue the strong blocking that has been a factor in their success.
FIRST DAY SCHEDULE: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 8 Georgia, 11:30 a.m.; No. 2 Arkansas vs. No. 7 Kentucky, 2 p.m.; No. 4 LSU vs. No. 5 Alabama, 4:30 p.m.; No. 3 South Carolina vs. No. 6 Tennessee, 7 p.m.
_ Compiled by Antonya English.
WHEN/WHERE: Today through Sunday; Houston.
TOURNAMENT FAVORITE: None. See below.
TEAMS TO WATCH: The four teams that received byes have to be considered threats and appear to have an equal shot at the title. Each has an advantage: No. 2 seed Louisville is the defending champion; No. 3 South Florida is on a hot streak and has the defending league player of the year in Michelle Collier; No. 1 Cincinnati was the top team in the regular season; and No. 4 Houston is the host and will have the emotional edge. Cincinnati, Louisville and USF are listed among those also receiving votes in the latest AVCA/USA Today poll. Louisville beat USF for the title last season.
WHAT USF HAS TO DO: The same thing the Bulls have been doing for the past five weeks. USF (21-7, 13-3) is riding a nine-match win streak and is peaking at the perfect time. Setter Ale Domingos has spread the wealth beyond Collier. Outside hitters Kelly Mathiasmeier and Jolene Patton, and middle blockers Bonnye Glover, Rachel Jobes and Shameka Mitchell have made it difficult to defend the Bulls and sparked the late-season resurgence. USF hasn't lost since Oct. 7 vs. Louisville.
USF SCHEDULE: Friday _ No. 3 USF vs. No. 6 Marquette or No. 11 Southern Miss, 3 p.m. Saturday _ USF vs. No. 2 Louisville, No. 10 Charlotte or No. 7 Saint Louis, 1 p.m. Sunday _ Championship, 2 p.m.
_ Compiled by Pete Young.
WHEN/WHERE: Today-Sunday; Tully Gymnasium, Tallahassee.
TV: Sunday's 1 p.m. championship is on Sunshine.
TOURNAMENT FAVORITE: Duke. The Blue Devils (21-3, 13-3) were picked third in the preseason, but won the regular-season title and the tournament's top seed by finishing on a 9-1 tear. Duke leads the ACC in blocks and aces and is second in hitting percentage.
TEAMS TO WATCH: North Carolina and FSU. The No. 2-seeded Tar Heels (20-7, 12-4) struggled down the stretch or else they might be the clear favorite; they did sweep Duke 3-1 and 3-0. Meanwhile, the No. 4-seeded Seminoles (15-11, 10-6) have been playing their best of late, winning 11 of their last 14 matches. They're also at home, where they've gone 9-3. That includes a 3-0 win against quarterfinal opponent, No. 5-seeded Wake Forest.
WHAT FSU HAS TO DO: The Seminoles, hosting the tournament for the first time, likely need to win it all to reach the NCAA Tournament. After a slow start, albeit against national powers Pepperdine, Texas A&M and Texas, the Seminoles began playing with a sense of urgency and togetherness in mid October. Junior middle hitter Dawn Hough, a former Durant High standout, returned at about that time after missing a month with a stress fracture in her right ankle. She forms a formidable tandem with senior Norisha Campbell, especially with the steady play of sophomore setter Jennifer Anderson.
FIRST DAY SCHEDULE: No. 8-seeded Virginia vs. No. 9 North Carolina State, 7:30 p.m.
TICKET INFORMATION: Tournament passes are $12 for adults and $6 for youths (18 and under), senior citizens (50 and older) and ACC students. Single-session tickets are $4 for adults and $2 for youths, seniors and ACC students.
_ Compiled by Brian Landman.
DIVISION II VOLLEYBALL
WHO: Tampa (26-3), Barry (27-2), North Florida (25-7), Armstrong-Atlantic (28-9), South Carolina-Spartanburg (25-7), Catawba (15-13).
WHAT: South Region tournament.
WHERE: University of Tampa, Bob Martinez Sports Center.
TICKETS: $6 adults, $3 students.
AT STAKE: Winner advances to the NCAA final to compete with seven other region champions.
SCHEDULE: Today _ North Florida vs. Catawba, 5:30 p.m., Armstrong-Atlantic vs. South Carolina-Spartanburg, 8 p.m. Friday _ Barry vs. North Florida/Catawba winner, 5:30 p.m., Tampa vs. Armstrong-Atlantic/South Carolina-Spartanburg winner, 8 p.m. Saturday _ championship, 7 p.m.
WHAT TAMPA HAS TO DO: Take advantage of the home court. Saturday's final should come down to the top-seeded Spartans and No. 2 Barry. The Sunshine State Conference rivals split their regular-season matches. The Spartans' edge should come from being at home, where they went 15-1 this season. Also, with Ania Ruiz, Tiffany Boatwright, Sandi Fox and Lisa Webster, UT has an experienced, proven offense.
RUIZ HONORED: The conference named Ruiz player of the year, and named Ruiz, Boatwright and Krissy MacIntyre to its first team. Fox and Gretchen Naruta made the second team.
_ Compiled by Rod Gipson.