- South Carolina Defeats Tennessee (24-26, 25-12, 23-25, 25-22, 15-13)
- Team’s Record: South Carolina (13-1), Tennessee (10-5)
- Schedules: South Carolina here, Tennessee here
Late last night the South Carolina Gamecocks emerged victorious in a back-and-forth battle with Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee. The Lady Vols were up 2 sets to 1 before South Carolina was able to come away with the win.
The Gamecocks had 57 total kills for the match, and were led on offense by Mikayla Shields (17 kills), Dessaa Legros (10 kills) and Alicia Starr (10 kills). Starr also had the most blocks for her team with 7, followed by Koko Atoa-Williams with 5. Aubrey Ezeil had the most assists with 29, and also tallied 15 digs to match Koko Atoa-Williams’ 15 digs.
Tennessee had more total kills with 66, but also committed more errors (31 to South Carolina’s 17). Both Tessa Grubbs and Erica Treiber had 17 kills apiece, followed closely by Bri Holmes with 13. Raina Hembry had the most blocks for her team with 5, while Sedona Hansen led the match in assists with 52. Hansen also led her team in digs with 16, just ahead of Brooke Schumacher who had 15 and Bridgette Villano who had 13.
South Carolina will return to action on Sunday to play another SEC rival, the Kentucky Wildcats. Tennessee will also play a conference match on Sunday but against the No. 5 Florida Gators.
Courtesy of South Carolina Athletics:
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Fans who stayed up late Wednesday night to watch South Carolina volleyball face Tennessee (10-5, 1-2 SEC) were treated to an instant classic, as the Gamecocks (13-1, 1-1) rallied time and time again to earn a five-set win. The match almost stretched into Thursday morning, but after 42 ties and 12 total lead changes, the dust finally settled in Carolina’s favor.
1st Set: The tone for the night was set early, as the opening game featured 13 ties and five lead changes by itself. The set would be tied at 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 before Carolina got some breathing room at 21-19. After a block from Alicia Starr and Mikayla Shields put the home side up 23-20, Tennessee would take a timeout. The Volunteers rallied hard out of the break, scoring four straight points to serve for the set at 24-23. Carolina tied it up at 24 on a Shields kill, but the Vols scored the final two points for the 26-24 win and the early advantage.
2nd Set: The Gamecocks were not ready to let the match slip away just yet, and came out firing on all cylinders in the second set. Five kills accounted for the team’s first eight points of the game, and Tennessee called an early timeout after falling behind 8-2. The visitors would get no closer than three points for the rest of the way, and Megan Kirkland served the Gamecocks to a 8-2 run later in the game to balloon the lead out to 20-10. Carolina outhit Tennessee .360-.038 for the set and went into halftime tied 1-1 after the 25-12 win.
3rd Set: The Volunteers put the Gamecocks in unfamiliar territory after coming back to take the third game, 25-23. Carolina had again led the set late, this time at 18-16, but Tennessee put down 18 kills total to overpower the Gamecocks down the stretch. This was the first time since Sept. 5 of last season that South Carolina had trailed 2-1 in a match it would eventually win, but it would take a clutch performance in the fourth set to even have a chance.
4th Set: After holding the lead for the first half of the fourth, Tennessee ran off a 6-1 run to take a 16-14 lead and strung the advantage out to 18-15 before the Gamecocks would burn a timeout to regroup. South Carolina chipped away and reclaimed the 21-20 lead thanks to a 3-0 burst behind Joely Cabrera’s serve. Tennessee tied it back up at 21-all, but kills from Shields and Starr on three straight possessions broke the tie and Shields capped the game win with her 15th kill of the night to force a fifth set.
5th Set: South Carolina needed one more comeback to earn its win, because Tennessee jumped out to an early two-point cushion and forced the Gamecocks into a timeout after taking a 9-6 lead. The home side needed a spark to overcome the deficit, and they got it from senior Dessaa Legros. The pin put her set from Aubrey Ezell straight down on the 10-foot line to cut UT’s lead to 11-10, and got the crowd and her teammates on their feet. A big block right after from Koko Atoa-Williams and Jacqy Angermiller tied the set up, and Joely Cabrera capped the all-important 3-0 run with an ace to put the Gamecocks ahead 12-11. Atoa-Williams had two of her eight total kills on the night to make it 13-12 and 14-13, pushing the team to match point, and a hitting error capped the win.
STAT OF THE MATCH
The Gamecocks allowed nine more kills to Tennessee on the night, but found the advantage through hitting smart. The Volunteers committed 31 hitting errors to just 17 for Carolina, and 19 of those errors were unforced.
- 1,819 fans were on-hand for Wednesday night’s match, the second-most in program history, behind only this season’s Clemson match.
- The Gamecocks have now won two straight matches in the series, dating back to last November. The last time the team won two or more matches in a row was a span of two matches between the 2006 and 2007 seasons.
- Comebacks were the name of the game Wednesday night. In Carolina’s three sets won, it trailed by at least three points in two of them. In Tennessee’s two wins (1st and 3rd sets), the Vols trailed by three and four points, respectively.
- Freshman Alicia Starr set new career highs in kills (10) and total blocks (7) Wednesday night. She also hit .429, had four digs and added an ace.
- South Carolina is now 3-0 in five-set matches this season. The last time the team started the season with a better streak in five-setters was 2012, when the team won all four matches that went the distance.
QUOTABLE: HEAD COACH SCOTT SWANSON
On the team’s win
“I feel like we just beat a really, really good team… Lots of momentum shifts, and a lot of really good things by a lot of young players on both sides. It was a nerve-wracking match for the coaches, but it was a really fun match.”
On the big kill from Legros in the fifth set
“All the credit in the world goes to our passers. It was Joely, it was Megan, it was Koko, for a good stretch there they had three passes every single time and that’s what got us in it. We were able to side out, we were able to set who we wanted to set, and we got around that big block getting splits because of the pass. Great setting, off of great passing — hitting is easy.”
The team will wrap up week two of the conference season with a Sunday afternoon match against Kentucky. Starting at 1:30, the Gamecocks will need to dig deep again to knock off a Wildcat squad that swept No. 5 Florida in straight sets in Gainesville Wednesday night. The match will air on the SEC Network+ online channel.
Courtesy of Tennessee Athletics:
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Tennessee’s Erica Treiber and Tessa Grubbs had 17 kills each, but the Volunteers lost 3-2 (24-26, 25-12, 23-25, 25-22, 15-13) to South Carolina on Wednesday night at Carolina VB Center.
The Vols (10-5, 1-2 SEC) led two sets to one, but South Carolina (13-1, 1-1) won the final two sets to close out the match.
While Tennessee led the fifth set by as many as three points at 10-7, South Carolina climbed back into the match and eventually took a 13-12 lead. The Vols tied the match on a sneak attack by freshman setter Sedona Hansen, but the Gamecocks won the final two points, clinching the match on an attack error by Alyssa Andreno.
Treiber set a new career best with 17 kills. Freshman Sedona Hansen recorded a double-double with 52 assists and 16 digs. Sophomore Brooke Schumacher added 15 digs and senior Bridgette Villano had 13.
The Vols play their second of four consecutive road matches on Sunday, taking on No. 5 Florida on Sunday at noon in Gainesville. The match will be televised on the SEC Network.
Tennessee staged a late rally in the first set. South Carolina took a 23-20 lead, but the Vols won six of the last seven points to close out the set. The Gamecocks foiled one set point on a kill by Alicia Starr, but the Vols took the second one when Treiber powered a shot down the middle to make it 26-24.
South Carolina jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the second set. While the Vols managed to cut that lead to three points, the Gamecocks won 9 of 10 points to take a 20-10 lead on a block by Starr and Abreia Epps. South Carolina hit .360 in the set and eventually won 25-12.
The third set came down to the wire, and the Vols again closed out strong. Tennessee broke a 23-23 tie with kills from Treiber and Grubbs to clinch the set 25-23. Tennessee vastly improved its offensive efficiency in the third, hitting .361.
South Carolina swung momentum late in the fourth set. The Vols took a 20-18 lead on a kill by Treiber, but South Carolina won six of the next seven points to go ahead 24-21 after Starr hit back-to-back kills. Holmes saved one set point with a strike through South Carolina’s block, but Mikayla Shields finished the set for the Gamecocks with a kill on the next point.
- Tennessee Starters: Erica Treiber, Raina Hembry, Sedona Hansen, Britney Vallez, Bri Holmes, Claudia Coco and Brooke Schumacher at libero. It was Coco’s first start of the season at defensive specialist.
- Wednesday marked the 100th career match played for seniors Bridgette Villano and Raina Hembry. Of those 100 matches, Hembry has made 85 starts at middle blocker.
- Hembry reached a second milestone, recording her 300th career block. She finished with four.
- Wednesday’s contest was the Vols’ first match since Sept. 9 to go beyond three sets. The Vols’ last five matches had been straight setters, three wins and two losses.
- Dig this: 11 different Vols had at least one dig in the match. That has happened only three times this season (Cleveland State, Kent State, South Carolina).
- The Vols have three South Carolina natives on the team: Grubbs (Tega Cay), Vallez (Mt. Pleasant) and Mackenzie Cooler (Ridgeland).
- Hansen had a double-double with 52 assists and 16 digs, her second-highest dig total of the season. She led the Vols in digs for the second time this year.
- The Vols are 0-2 in five-set matches this year. They lost to Cleveland State 3-2 on Sept. 2.