Aug. 28, 2009
CLEMSON, S.C. - The South Carolina Gamecocks opened their 2009 season in style with a five-set victory over Clemson, 25-20, 23-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-9, in front of an estimated 2,175 fans in Jervey Gymnasium on Friday night.
Junior Hannah Lawing led all players on the night with a career-best 20 kills while also adding 19 digs. Senior Ivana Kujundzic had a match-high 21 points on 18 kills and three service aces, most in the contest. She also tied for the match best with 25 digs. Senior Sarah Cline added 21 digs, while senior Bridget Denson-Dorman made 58 assists and got 15 digs. Both senior Meredith Moorhead and junior Megan Laughlin had 10 kills and two blocks, while freshman Teresa Stenlund put together a .417 hitting percentage, edging out Lawing's .375 for top honors among Gamecocks. The Tigers' Didem Ege had 25 digs, while Kelsey Murphy put together a double-double with 51 assists and 18 digs. Lia Proctor led Clemson with 15 kills, while Natalie Patzin and Alexa Rand both added 12. Brittany Fennell finished with 11 kills, and Cansu Ozdemir added 13 digs.
The Gamecocks ran out to a 5-1 first-set lead behind two early kills from Kujundzic and another by Lawing. The Tigers fought back with a three-point run that made it 6-5, getting kills from Proctor and Murphy and an ace from Sandra Adeleye. After the Tigers tied it at 9-9, the teams traded points twice before the next South Carolina run. The four-point swing included kills from four different Gamecocks, including a back-row attack from Kujundzic. The squads mostly traded points the rest of the way, with both taking consecutive points towards the end of the set. Laughlin ended the frame with a guided tip toward the back right corner, giving the Gamecocks the 25-20 set victory. Kujundzic had seven kills on a .700 hitting percentage to go with a set-best six digs. As a team, Carolina hit .410 and compiled 19 digs in the frame.
Clemson started the second hot, getting out to a 6-0 lead that was helped by three Carolina hitting errors. The Gamecocks got it back to three at 7-4 after a pair of Lawing kills, but the Tigers took six of seven points later to make it 15-7. A three-point Garnet run closed the gap to 17-11, while a later stretch where Carolina took five of six points made the Tiger lead just three at 21-18, forcing the hosts to use their final timeout. That did not stop the Gamecocks' momentum, as they would get the next four points to take a 22-21 lead. A tip from Fennell tied it up at 22-22, and her swing seconds later gave the Tigers the advantage. Stenlund knotted up the set again at 23-23, but Fennell put the Tigers to set point with another kill. A block from Patzin and Rand gave Clemson the set two win.
Kujundzic pushed the Gamecocks out to a 7-0 lead in the third, landing three or four aces in the stretch. The Tigers got it back to three at 12-9 before kills from Patzin and Proctor made it 14-12. A dump from Denson-Dorman pushed the South Carolina lead back to three, and a pair of Lawing kills, including one from the back-row, gave the Gamecocks an 18-13 advantage. The Gamecocks made it 22-18 after the first handling error call of the match, causing Clemson to call a timeout. The Tigers used that to swing momentum, taking the next to points to make it 22-20 and force the Gamecocks to use their final timeout. A Clemson block right out of the break made it a one-point set, and a swing from the setter Murphy tied it at 22. Lawing stopped the four-point run with her kill off the block, and a Tiger hitting error put the Gamecocks to set point. Lawing polished it off with her sixth kill of the set, giving South Carolina the third set, 25-22. Kujundzic added nine digs in the frame.
After the Tigers got out to a 3-0 lead, the Gamecocks kept it close, staying within three until a five-point run by South Carolina gave the squad a 16-14 lead. Kills from Moorhead, Lawing and Laughlin as well as an ace from freshman Taylor Bruns comprised the run that forced a Clemson timeout. The Tigers tied it up out of the pause at 16-16 behind a Rand kill and a Gamecock error. The teams both got back-to-back points before Kujundzic put down two in a row, including one on an overpass to put South Carolina on top, 20-18, and force Clemson use its final timeout. Kujundzic continued the barrage with a shot down the line to make it 21-18, but kills from Fennell and Proctor as well as a Gamecock error tied it again at 21-21, causing the Gamecocks to use a timeout. But the Tigers stuffed three consecutive Carolina attacks out of the break, and some miscommunication on the Gamecocks' side ended the set, 25-21. Ege made seven digs to help Clemson take the fourth.
Both teams took a while to settle in during the fifth, with the Gamecocks taking an 8-6 lead after a Lawing back-row tip caused the bench swap. An ace from Denson-Dorman and another back-row tip from Lawing forced a Clemson timeout at 10-6. After a service error, Moorhead and Lawing put down two kills. Another Tiger point came ahead of a Lawing kill, and a Tiger handling error put South Carolina at match point. A kill by Patzin extended the match, but by just one, as a service error ended the set at 15-9. The Gamecocks closed with a flurry, hitting .538 in the final set.
The Gamecocks made 97 digs to top Clemson by 23 in the category while South Carolina also held advantages in kills, assists, aces and hitting percentage. With her 21 digs in the contest, Cline leaped three people into eighth all-time in digs at South Carolina, sporting a total of 987. Nine more this weekend would put her in seventh, while 13 would make her the seventh Gamecock in the 1,000-dig club. The win over Clemson is the third straight for the Gamecocks in the series, with all three coming in five sets.
In the first match of the day, College of Charleston came back from a two-set deficit to defeat Winthrop in five.
South Carolina takes on College of Charleston at 10 a.m. on Saturday before closing out the Big Orange Bash versus Winthrop at 4 p.m.
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