Sept. 21, 2012
AUBURN, Ala. - Despite a strong effort from reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week Juliette Thévenin, South Carolina (13-1, 2-1 SEC) saw its best winning streak to start a season broken as Auburn (11-2, 2-1 SEC) claimed a four-set win, 25-27, 25-16, 25-18, 25-22, in front of 947 fans at the Student Activities Center.
The junior Thévenin posted her seventh double-double of the year, tallying 22 kills and 18 digs while hitting .370 in the loss. Junior libero Paige Wheeler tallied a match-best 20 digs. Senior setter Taylor Bruns had 40 assists, four kills, eight digs, two aces and two blocks.
Sarah Bullock led Auburn with 20 kills and 13 digs, hitting .391. Katherine Culwell added 19 kills, 12 digs and six blocks, and Camila Jersonsky had 10 kills and seven blocks. Chelsea Wintzinger compiled 28 assists and 12 digs, while Ciara Richards added 27 assists, 14 digs and three aces. Sarah Wroblicky topped Auburn in digs with 17.
A back-and-forth first set went South Carolina's way, 27-25. The Gamecocks sustained the only three-point run early, tying the frame at 6-6 on a Bethanie Thomas kill, a Bruns solo block and a Tiger set error. The teams stayed within two of each other the rest of the way. Two consecutive kills from Thévenin put the Gamecocks to set point at 24-23, but the Tigers tied it on Bullock's sixth kill of the set. Another set point got away from South Carolina, but not a third. An Auburn error handed the third chance to the Gamecocks, and freshman Sarah Blomgren, substituted in for the point, put away the kill to end it 27-25. Thévenin had seven kills without an error in the first, while Wheeler had nine digs.
The Gamecocks got out to a 4-0 lead in the second set, but the Tigers took over with a 14-2 run that included three aces, two by Wroblicky. South Carolina had a four-point run to close the gap to 14-10, but Auburn closed out the frame with a 25-16 win. The Tigers hit .462, led by four kills each from Culwell and Jersonsky.
Auburn claimed the third set, 25-18, hitting .486 in the process. Both Bullock and Culwell had seven kills each. A 5-1 run by the Tigers made it 10-7, and the Gamecocks would not get closer than two the rest of the way. Bullock had two kills in that run, while her backrow tip came in the middle of a three-point stand that stretched the Tiger lead to 16-11.
South Carolina ran out to a 7-2 lead in the fourth, but Auburn fought back, tying the frame at 12-12 with a three-point run. A four-point Auburn run gave the Tigers control with a 21-18 lead. Bullock had the last two kills in that run. The teams traded points till the end, when the Gamecocks served one wide to end it at 25-22.
Auburn won every stat category, including an 8-3 lead in aces and a 10-4 advantage in blocks. The loss ended the Gamecocks' 13-match winning streak, the second-longest skein in program history.
The Gamecocks close the weekend trip with a 1 p.m. EDT contest at No. 21 Tennessee on Sunday.
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