Sept. 2, 2017
DURHAM, N.C. - The South Carolina volleyball team bounced back in a big way to close out its weekend at the Duke Invitational, defeating the host Blue Devils Saturday afternoon. Powered by another stellar match from sophomore Mikayla Shields and a season-high 13 blocks, the Gamecocks earned the 3-1 victory to move to 4-2 this season.
SET 1: The two sides were in a shootout to open the match, with Duke hitting .382 and the Gamecocks at .312. The Blue Devils found their advantage at the service line, putting down three aces while Carolina went without for the game. Mikayla Shields kept her momentum from a career match against UNCW Friday evening, rolling out five kills and four digs in the set to lead the Gamecocks.
SET 2: Both teams took a step back offensively in the second set, and it was South Carolina’s blockers that keyed the team to a win that evened up the match. A tandem block from Alicia Starr and Jess Vastine forced Duke into an early timeout, after Carolina built a 10-5 lead.
The Gamecocks held on to a comfortable advantage until late in the set, when a 4-0 run made it just a 20-19 lead. The blocking came back in a big way to seal the win, as Vastine and Starr joined up for a big block to make it 21-19, and Mikayla Shields and Robinson came up two points later for a block that set up the team’s set point in a 25-21 win.
SET 3: Confidence from the team’s blocking dominance continued to power Carolina in the third set, and the Gamecocks built a quick 12-3 lead on the Blue Devils. Duke had just one kill and six errors on its first 14 swings to get to that 12-3 deficit, with South Carolina blocking back three balls in that span.
The Gamecocks built the lead up to 17-10, but the Blue Devils clawed back to fight for the critical third set. An 8-2 run cut the lead down to just one, forcing Carolina to take its final timeout. The home side tied things up a 20, but back-to-back blocks from Starr would give the Gamecocks the lead back and forced Duke into a quick timeout. The two blocks were all the breathing room Carolina needed, as it went the distance with a 25-21 win. Duke hit just .068 in the set, as the Gamecocks totaled a match-high five blocks.
SET 4: Another fast start put the Gamecocks in the driver’s seat as they hunted for the close-out win. Two blocks in the first three points quickly lead to a 10-4 advantage and a Duke timeout. Freshman Jess Vastine, who came on as a substitute in the second set, showed her potential on both sides of the net, as she racked up 11 digs, four blocks and the hardest-hit kill of the match, which pushed the Gamecock lead up to 17-8.
It was a wire-to-wire victory, with South Carolina’s offense chugging along to a .469 hitting percentage. Mikayla Robinson ended it with a kill, clinching the 25-16 win.
Stat of the Match
The Blue Devils had no answer for the Gamecock blockers, who finished with 13 total blocks in the match. Duke finished with just 4.5. Alicia Starr led the way with seven blocks, and Mikayla Robinson added six. Seven different players had at least one block assist for Carolina.
Quotable: Head Coach Scott Swanson
On the team rebounding Saturday after a tough start to the weekend
The Gamecocks return home next weekend to host the Carolina Classic. The team plays two matches on Friday, taking on Eastern Kentucky at 1 p.m. and Miami (Ohio) at 7. Saturday, the tournament wraps up with a 2 p.m. match with Radford.
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