Gamecocks Set to Host Furman on Tuesday|
Jan. 27, 2014
The Gamecocks look to extend their 2-0 start to the season against a Furman squad in which South Carolina has won 30 straight matches dating back to 1978. Carolina is coming off a Jan. 18 doubleheader with wins over East Tennessee State and College of Charleston. The Tuesday match-up will mark the season opener for the Paladins, who finished 14-9 and 8-2 in the Southern Conference last season.
South Carolina's first match of the year versus ETSU was unusual in that the Buccaneers only had three healthy players and handed the Gamecocks a win before any points were played. The two squads still played the Nos. 1-3 singles positions, though, which afforded head coach Kevin Epley an opportunity to test the depth of his squad using Natalie Looney, Alex Martin and Katie Fosnacht. ETSU managed to win all three spots for a 4-3 final.
Against College of Charleston, the Gamecocks and Cougars played a full slate of matches. Carolina took the doubles point easily with 6-1 victories on courts one and two. Elixane Lechemia and Meghan Blevins clinched the point at one after Katerina Popova and Ximena Siles Luna snagged their triumph at the No. 2 spot. Lechemia began the scoring in singles for the Gamecocks by dropping just one game in her match at No. 1 singles and Popova, Brigit Folland, Blevins and Caroline Dailey all followed suit with straight set victories to lift South Carolina to a 6-1 win.
Two freshmen lead the Gamecocks in singles victories this season with nine each coming courtesy of Folland and Dailey. Dailey is off to a 9-4 start to her career, while Folland stands 9-5. Folland is the only Gamecock currently with a national ranking at 113th. Blevins and Lechemia are South Carolina's most productive duo with a 5-2 mark together and Blevins leads the squad in individual doubles wins with a 9-3 record. Lechemia is just behind her at 8-4.
After facing the Paladins, South Carolina will take on some tough competition on the road in Charlottesville, Va. On Saturday, the Gamecocks take on No. 39 VCU at 1 p.m. followed by No. 14 Virginia at noon on Sunday.