South Carolina Claims Gamecock Invitational Crown With Sweep of UNC Greensboro
Sept. 5, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The Gamecocks continued their winning streak to start the year with a sweep over UNC Greensboro in the finale of the 2009 Gamecock Invitational. South Carolina won the match at the Volleyball Competition Facility, 26-24, 25-19, 25-17, to claim their fourth-straight pre-conference schedule tournament.
Senior Ivana Kujundzic kept her amazing start going, leading all players with 18 kills on a .366 hitting percentage. Senior libero Sarah Cline carried home match-best honors with 16 digs, while junior Hannah Lawing added 14. Senior Meredith Moorhead had a good match as well for South Carolina (6-0), hitting .300 on eight kills while also making 10 digs, her first match in double figures in the defensive category since Nov. 17, 2006. Lawing also had eight kills to tie for second among Gamecocks, and sophomore Tory Anderson compiled five kills on a .500 hitting percentage and added a match-best five blocks. Catherine Hanners and Emily Lindborg both had 10 kills to lead UNC Greensboro (4-3). Spartan libero Kayleigh Knerr added 12 digs.
In the first, the Gamecocks got a 14-9 lead after taking five of six points in one stretch. The Spartans came back with a three-point run to get within one at 19-18. The Gamecocks rebounded to get to set point at 24-21 after a pair of Spartan errors. But Greensboro charged back, as Lindborg had consecutive kills, followed by a Gamecock hitting error to tie it at 24-24. South Carolina head coach Ben Somera utilized a timeout to stop the Spartans' momentum, and it did its job as Lawing got a kill out of the break to give the Gamecocks another chance at set point. Moorhead followed with an ace to end the frame. Three blocks helped lead the Gamecocks to the 26-24 set-one win, as well as Kujundzic's six kills.
The Gamecocks put together a five-point run to take control of the second set at 11-5. Lawing had two kills in the string, while sophomore Teresa Stenlund and Moorhead both had kills as well. UNC Greensboro tied it at 13-13 after a four-point skein helped by a Hanners ace. But the Gamecocks would take the set, ending it with five straight points, three on Kujundzic kills and another from a Denson-Dorman dump. The 25-19 win of set two was helped by Cline's six digs, as the Gamecock defense held the Spartans to a -.024 hitting percentage. That continues South Carolina's streak of holding foes to at least one negative hitting set per match to five.
Behind Denson-Dorman's precise serving, South Carolina got out to an 8-2 lead in the third set and never looked back. The Spartans put together one four-point string to close to within four at 14-10 and followed soon after with two straight points to get within three at 15-12. But that would be as close as UNC Greensboro would get. Kujundzic closed the frame at 25-17 with consecutive kills, two of her eight in the set where she hit .727 while adding a pair of block assists. Anderson was perfect with her swings, going three-for-three on her attack tries.
The Carolina Gamecocks recorded 18 more digs than UNC Greensboro and led in most other statistical categories, only losing the aces battle, 2-5. Kujundzic was named tournament MVP, while Cline claimed the most outstanding libero award. Denson-Dorman and Stenlund joined them on the all-tournament team, along with Hanners and Knerr from UNC Greensboro. Coastal Carolina's Megan Bickford and Jill Nyhof also earned all-tourney accolades. The 6-0 start from South Carolina is the squad's best since 2001, when they also went 6-0 to begin the year.
"We got great play again from Ivana (Kujundzic)," said Somera, "and I thought Meredith (Moorhead) really came into form this week. Her practices were good, and she competed well all weekend. Everybody who received all-tournament honors did a great job, but the individual honors are never possible without great support from your teammates."
In the first match of the day, the Chanticleers got their only win of the tournament with a 25-14, 25-18, 25-18 sweep over Eastern Kentucky.
The Garnet and Black heads to Houston, Texas, for the Mizuno Invitational II at Rice University, taking on the host Owls, Wichita State and Harvard on the weekend.