April 20, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The No. 12 South Carolina Gamecocks (21-7, 11-5 CCSA) head into postseason action on Friday, as the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association tournament gets underway at Lakepoint Sporting Community in Emerson, Ga.
The ten conference members were divided into two five-team pools, with each team guaranteed a match against the other four teams in its group. The two best records from each pool will advance to the semifinals. The championship match on Sunday, April 23 will be broadcast live on ESPN3 at 1:00 p.m. ET.
As the No. 4 seed, the Gamecocks will play against No. 5 FIU Friday at 10:30 a.m. and close the day with a 1:30 match against No. 9 UNC Wilmington. On Saturday, Carolina faces No. 1 seed Florida State at 9:30 and No. 8 Tulane at 1:30. This season, the Gamecocks were a combined 6-2 against the teams in their upcoming pool.
Gamecocks Collect Four Postseason Honors
The CCSA announced its end-of-the-year awards on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Gamecocks picked up four honors. On Wednesday, junior Julia Mannisto and grad student Katie Zimmerman made the conference’s All-Academic team. Mannisto carries a 3.6 GPA as a finance major, while Zimmerman is finishing her master’s degree in exercise science this spring with a 3.944 GPA. On Thursday, the All-Freshman team was announced, with Ali Denney and Katie Smith making the five-woman group. Denney holds a 21-7 overall record this season, while Smith is 19-9, with 15 wins coming at the number one flight.
SCOUTING #10 FIU
After briefly dropping out of the national rankings, the Panthers have roared back in April and now sit at No. 10 after four wins over AVCA Top 15 teams in the last two weeks. Last weekend, the team went to Florida State for a tournament and picked up wins over Stetson and Grand Canyon, and lost 3-2 decisions to Florida State and Pepperdine. Sophomore Margherita Bianchin and freshman Federica Frasca have been the team’s hot pair, recording a 16-3 record this season with six coming out of the number one flight. The Panthers’ biggest strength has been their unpredictable lineups - nine different pairs have played in the number one flight, two different pairs have played at least one dual in all five flights, and two others have played in four different flights.
The Seahawks are 13-9 this season, with a 5-5 record so far in April after a 2-2 weekend at in Columbia at the Palmetto Invitational. UNCW has a fairly consistent lineup, with the top two pairs for the most part unchanged. Tanna Aljoe/Nicole Lott have been in the top spot, and are 12-8 so far as a pair. The team’s top pair so far in 2017 has been Sydney Alvis/Sarah Kelly, who have 15 wins between the threes and fours pair. Wilmington is in its first season as a member of the CCSA, and second year overall as a beach volleyball program.
SCOUTING #4 Florida State
The Seminoles are the defending CCSA champions and were the national runner-up to Southern Cal at last season’s national championship. This spring, Florida State is 21-7 and remains in No. 4 spot in the latest AVCA coaches poll. Last weekend at its home tournament, the team defeated No. 14 FIU, No. 10 Grand Canyon and split two matches with No. 2 Pepperdine. The team’s winningest pair so far this season has been Victoria Paranagua and Macy Jerger, who come into the weekend with a 19-7 record in the threes. Leigh Andrew and Brooke Kuhlman have locked down the top pairing, and have a 10-9 record.
Tulane enters the tournament with an 20-11 overall record, after a 2-2 weekend at the Palmetto Invitational. Last season, Tulane went 20-15 overall and do return the top two players from last season in Tea Juric (26 wins at the number one pairing) and Madeline Mertz (20 wins at the number two pairing). Juric has locked down the 2s position with current partner Kaylie McHugh, entering the weekend with a 25-6 record as a pair. Mertz and Lan Nguyen have been mainstays in the top flight, and are 17-13 this season. Tarin Mergener has also shined for the Green Wave, with a 21-10 record split between the 3s and 4s. South Carolina leads the all-time series 5-1.
Gamecocks Conquer Challenging 2017 Schedule
Despite facing a schedule that featured 11 opponents in the AVCA Coaches Top-15 poll, South Carolina set a new program record for wins in a season on Sunday in the finale of the Palmetto Invitational. After a 5-0 sweep of Charleston, the Gamecocks broke 2016’s record of 20 wins, and now have four more duals in the conference tournament to set a new high-water mark for the future.
CAROLINA’S BIGGEST ‘LITTLE’
Though she stands just 5-feet, 3-inches tall, junior Macie Tendrich is already the program’s winningest student-athlete, and has written her name all over the record book. The Boynton Beach, Fla. native’s career wins (68), and career winning percentage of .764 (68-21) are both tops in South Carolina history. She is also part of the winningest pair in school history, teaming with Katie Zimmerman in 2016 and part of 2017 to go 36-11. So far this season, Tendrich is 24-4 as an individual, splitting time in the 2s, 3s, and 4s position; she already shares the program’s single-season win record of 26 with Zimmerman, and could break it during the CCSA tournament.
GAMECOCKS IN THE NATIONAL RANKS
For the seventh straight week, the Gamecocks made the AVCA national rankings. After a 4-0 weekend at the Palmetto Invite, South Carolina stand 12th in the country. The Gamecocks have four wins over AVCA-ranked opponents this season, after beating just one ranked opponent in the program’s first three seasons combined.
South Carolina’s seven-member freshman class has been one of the biggest keys to the team’s rise in the national polls. To this point in the season, the Gamecocks have a freshman locked in to four of the top five pairs: Ali Denney is just one win away from matching the program’s freshmen record for wins, Katie Smith is 15-5 this season at the number one flight and leads the team in kills and digs, Carly Schnieder has won 20 matches in the third/fourth flights, and Franky Harrison has 19 wins with the fives pair.
SOUTH CAROLINA STAT LEADERS (As of 4/17)
CRUNCHING THE NUMBERS
WELCOME TO THE GREAT OUTDOORS!
After finding tremendous success converting Wichita State indoor volleyball standout Katie Zimmerman to the beach last season, the coaching staff will try that same formula this season with Adrianna Culbert. While playing indoors for Colorado State, Culbert earned 2015 Mountain West Player of the Year honors and was a three-time AVCA All-Pacific Northwest Region Team member for the Rams. Her experience indoors as a setter and pin hitter has prepared her well for the outdoor lifestyle, as Culbert has racked up an 21-7 record so far this season (14 wins in the 1s pair, seven in the 2s). Additionally, she leads the team in blocks (averaging one per set) and is hitting .399 with 4.8 kills and 6.2 assists per set.
The Roaring 60s
Two Gamecocks have crossed the 60-career-win plateaus for the first time in program history. Junior Macie Tendrich holds the program record for career wins with 68, and right behind her is senior Jade Vitt with 66. Earlier this season, Tendrich also became the first junior in program history to make it to 50 career wins.
Year Two of Conference Action Heats up
South Carolina’s 2017 slate will feature a number of brewing rivalries thanks to an expanded conference this season. The Coastal Collegiate Sports Association added two more programs this past fall, welcoming College of Charleston and UNC Wilmington to push the conference up to 10 teams. The Gamecocks finished 5-5 in CCSA matches during the regular season, and made the semifinal round of the conference’s first-ever postseason tournament. Heading into its second conference postseason tournament, Carolina is 11-5 in the CCSA and is the tournament’s fourth seed.
Strong Summer Earns Gamecock duo All-America Honors
Freshmen Carly Schnieder and Katie Smith come to Carolina with accomplished prep careers on the beach. The duo won the AAU Jr. National Beach Volleyball Championship as well as the USA Volleyball Junior Beach Volleyball Tour Championship. For their efforts, Carly and Katie made the six-member AVCA High School Beach All-America Team. South Carolina Beach Volleyball now has three first-team All-Americans on the roster, as the two freshmen joined junior Julia Mannisto, who was on the four-member 2014 All-America team. South Carolina is the only school in the country to have three AVCA Beach All-Americans on their roster.
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