In Front of Third-Largest Crowd, Gamecocks Sweep Clemson|
COLUMBIA, S.C. - With a raucous crowd of 1,512 fans, the third largest in the 16-year history of the Volleyball Competition Facility, watching, South Carolina (9-0) swept past Clemson (6-2) 25-23, 25-20, 25-19, behind outstanding performances from senior setter Taylor Bruns and junior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin on Friday evening.
Bruns posted 10 kills without an attacking error and 30 assists in the triumph over the archrival Tigers. Hitting .588, Bruns was the only Gamecock to best Thévenin's .500 mark, as she led all players with 15 kills. Sophomore outside hitter Bethanie Thomas added seven kills and 12 digs. Freshman middle blocker Darian Dozier posted a season-best six blocks, including two solo stuffs, while freshman outside hitter Jenna Allen added eight digs. Junior libero Paige Wheeler had nine digs, and Bruns finished with seven, three shy of a triple-double.
Moneshia Simmons tallied 14 kills to lead Clemson, while Sandra Adeleye and Kristin Faust both had 10 kills. Natalie Patzin led all players with 16 digs, with Faust adding 13 and Kamryn Sherman 10 to go with 27 assists. Adeleye hit .562 on the night and led the Tigers with three blocks.
The Gamecocks outlasted a late Clemson push to take the first set, 25-23. The Gamecocks took a five-point lead on Thomas's serve at 20-15, but the Tigers clawed back, closing the gap to 23-20 on kills from Alexa Rand and Simmons. Thomas got a kill to put the Gamecocks to set point, but Adeleye fought off the first. Serenat Yaz posted a kill and a block assist with Adeleye to make it 24-23, but redshirt sophomore Cara Howley put away an overpass to end the frame. Thévenin had five kills without an error on eight swings in the frame, while Wheeler and Allen both had five digs. The Gamecocks posted 24 digs in the first frame alone.
The second set saw a lot more offense from both sides, but mainly from South Carolina as it took the frame 25-20. A four-point skein, powered by two Bruns kills, made it 20-15. The advantage grew to 23-16 on Bruns' serve, and the freshmen Dozier and Christina Vereb sent back a Tiger attack to end the frame at 25-20. Thévenin repeated her first-set performance in the second, helping the Gamecocks post a .419 hitting percentage in the frame.
South Carolina opened the third with a 9-4 advantage thanks to three Tiger attack errors. Clemson fought back to within one on Sherman's serve, as the setter landed one ace in the four-point stand. The Gamecocks worked the lead back to four before Clemson drew within one again. At 17-16, Thévenin posted a kill, starting a five-point rally that included a kill and solo block from Dozier. Thévenin finished off the match with a tip kill off the block at 25-19. She had five kills again in the third, while Bruns added four and Thomas three.
The Gamecocks won the hitting battle, .321-.192, and had a 10-3 advantage in blocks and a one-ace edge. The Tigers won the kills and digs categories. South Carolina improves to 9-0 on the year, tying the 1984 team for the second-best winning streak to begin a season.
The 1,512 fans in attendance is the most in the VCF to see a match since the all-time record of 1,793 set on Sept. 21, 2001 against Florida. The largest crowd under the VCF's current configuration, the crowd was standing-room only, 235 fans over the number of seats open in this setup. It's the second-largest South Carolina-Clemson crowd in Columbia, only behind the 1,965 who watched the 2004 Gamecocks sweep the Tigers in Colonial Life Arena on Sept. 7, the last 3-0 win for South Carolina in the series. The Gamecocks remain undefeated in the VCF against the Tigers in regular-season play.
South Carolina takes on UAB at 11 a.m. on Saturday to start day two of the Carolina Clash, while it closes the day at 7 p.m. against in-state foe Winthrop.