Sept. 16, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. - A roller-coaster ride of a match saw South Carolina (13-0, 2-0 SEC) come back from a 2-1 deficit to defeat LSU (4-7, 0-2 SEC) in five sets, 25-18, 26-28, 16-25, 25-18, 15-12, in front of 839 fans on Sunday afternoon in the Volleyball Competition Facility, extending the season-opening win streak to a program-best 13 matches.
Junior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin posted a double-double with a season-high 22 kills to go with 11 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Bethanie Thomas narrowly missed one as well, posting nine kills and 14 digs. Junior libero Paige Wheeler led all players with 18 digs, while redshirt sophomore middle blocker Cara Howley added 11 kills. Senior setter Taylor Bruns posted 49 assists, eight digs and seven kills. Howley and freshman middle blocker Darian Dozier both had five block assists, a career best for both.
Madie Jones led LSU with 18 kills, while Desiree Elliott and Helen Boyle added 16 and 15, respectively. Sam Delahoussaye had 14 digs, while Malorie Pardo contributed 12 digs to go with 21 assists. Elliott led all players with nine blocks, and Khourtni Fears had seven. Jackie Gerig had 29 assists.
Some strong Gamecock defense and errors from the Tigers gave South Carolina the 25-18 set-one win. LSU only posted consecutive points on three occasions, never getting a run of three or more. A four-point run that ended with SC up 7-5 was capped by two tip kills from Thévenin and Bruns and gave the Gamecocks all the advantage they needed. A later four-point stand pushed the Gamecock advantage to 19-14. The sixth LSU service error ended the frame. The Tigers also had three block errors in the first. Howley posted five kills.
LSU came back to take the second set 28-26. South Carolina led 13-8 at one point, but a six-point Tiger run made it 14-13. Both teams had runs, with the Tigers' tying it at 20-20 with a three-point skein. The Gamecocks had three set points but could not end it. Fears posted the second of her solo blocks in the second set on the last of South Carolina's set-point tries, setting up Jones to close out the set for LSU with two consecutive kills. Thévenin had eight kills and five digs in the frame, while Boyle had six kills without an error for the Tigers.
The Tigers opened the third with a 7-0 run, hit .367 and held the Gamecocks to a .000 mark en route to a 25-16 win. South Carolina only drew within three at 8-5 after a four-point run, but LSU responded with a 6-2 stand to recapture control. Seven LSU blocks helped hold South Carolina down, as Elliott posted three blocks and four kills in the frame for the Tigers.
The Gamecocks bounced back with a 25-18 win in the fourth. A four-point run made it 11-6 Gamecocks, putting all the separation South Carolina needed in the set. Dozier had three kills and two block assists in the frame, while Thévenin racked up seven kills in the fourth alone. South Carolina hit .395 in the fourth, while Wheeler added five digs.
South Carolina used a 5-1 stretch to take a 7-3 lead in the fifth. Redshirt freshman opposite Christina Vereb had two of the kills in the stretch to give the Gamecocks the lead. The Tigers tied it 10-10 after a Gamecock hitting error, but another three-point stand pushed South Carolina to a 13-10 lead. LSU drew within one after Elliott's ace, but Thomas hit a cross-court killer to bring South Carolina to match point. The freshmen Vereb and Dozier rejected the last Tiger attack, giving the Gamecocks the 15-12 win. Thomas had three kills in the final frame.
LSU won the hitting battle, .256-.240 and the blocks category, 17-10, while the two teams tied with three aces each. South Carolina had more kills, assists and digs than the Tigers. South Carolina breaks the 1983 team's 12-0 start for the new record. Now on the second-longest winning streak in program history, the 2012 team chases the 1983 team again for the longest winning streak in history, a 14-match stand from Oct. 15-Nov. 18.
South Carolina takes the streak on the road to Auburn and Tennessee next weekend, facing the Tigers first on Friday night at 8 p.m. EDT.
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