Gamecocks Come Up Short in Five Sets with Winthrop
Sep 7, 2013
CLEMSON, S.C. -- The South Carolina volleyball team won the first two sets against Winthrop on Saturday afternoon but it was unable to hold on, as the Eagles claimed the next three to win the match by the scores of 25-21, 25-17, 22-25, 22-25 and 12-15 at Jervey Gymnasium.
The Gamecocks fall to 3-3 with the loss, while Winthrop improves to 6-1.
South Carolina outhit the Eagles .219 to .144, and both teams finished the match with 10 team blocks. For the third straight match, senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin recorded more than 20 kills with a 23-kill performance on Saturday. Thévenin, who was named to the All-Tournament Team, also had nine digs. Sophomore Sarah Blomgren contributed 14 kills while hitting .357, while freshman KoKo Atoa-Williams produced 12 kills and four block assists. Sophomore setter Kellie McNeil filled the stat sheet with 49 assists, seven kills, five digs and four block assists. Junior libero Michaela Christiaansen and freshman Megan Kirkland recorded 20 and 13 digs, respectively in the loss.
Winthrop had four players reach double figures in kills, including 14 apiece from Rachel Lenz and Irene Ojukwu. Alina Sopizhuk and Brianna Gray tallied 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Setter Jessie Vivic produced a double-double with 49 assists and 14 digs.
South Carolina fell behind 4-0 early in the first set and trailed 8-4 before scoring six straight points to take the lead behind a pair of aces by Thévenin and a kill by Atoa-Williams. Winthrop tied the match at 10-10 on a kill by Jessie Vivic, but Thévenin answered with a kill to put the Gamecocks in front for good. South Carolina led by as many as six points down the stretch on its way to winning the set 25-21.
Winthrop started strong again in the second set, building a 4-2 lead, and it led 13-11 midway through after a South Carolina attack error. However, the Gamecocks went on a 7-2 run capped by a Blomgren kill to take an 18-15 lead. South Carolina pushed its lead to 23-17 on a Winthrop attack error, and Thévenin closed out the set in the Gamecocks' favor with back-to-back kills. South Carolina was zoned in on the attack, hitting .444 for the frame.
The Gamecocks seemed to be in control of the third set as they built a 12-5 lead, but Winthrop went on a 15-6 run to take a 20-18 lead on a kill by Ojukwu. South Carolina came back to tie it up at 21-21 on a kill by Thévenin. However, the Eagles scored four out of the next five points to extend the match to four sets.
With the fourth set tied at 7-7, Winthrop broke off a 5-1 run to take a 12-8 lead. The Eagles extended their lead to 19-11 on a Gamecock attack error. South Carolina cut Winthrop's lead to two on three occasions down the stretch, with the last being 24-22. A Gamecock attack error ended the comeback, however, as the match went to a fifth set.
The final set saw eight ties and five lead changes, with the last tie being 10-10. The Eagles then outscored South Carolina 5-2 to claim the match.
The Gamecocks return to action next weekend in the Duke Blue Devil Classic in Durham, N.C. South Carolina will play Utah State (10 a.m.) and Liberty (5 p.m.) on Friday and Duke (1:30 p.m.) on Saturday.