Gamecocks Drop a Four-Set Decision to Tennessee
Sept. 23, 2011
by Koby Padgett
COLUMBIA, S.C. - In front of 1,064 fans at the Volleyball Competition Facility, South Carolina (9-3, 0-2 SEC) dropped a tough four-set match to Tennessee (10-2, 3-0 SEC), as the Lady Vols claimed the victory 28-30, 25-12, 25-15, 28-26, on Friday evening.
Junior setter Taylor Bruns and freshman outside hitter Bethanie Thomas both tallied double-doubles for the Gamecocks. Bruns had 33 assists and 12 digs, both leading the team, while Thomas added 10 kills and 10 digs and hit a team-best .259. Sophomore outside hitter Juliette Thévenin posted a team-best 19 kills and added eight digs, and sophomore libero Paige Wheeler compiled 11 digs.
Kelsey Robinson led Tennessee with 22 kills, 12 digs and three aces. Carly Sahagian posted a double-double as well with 12 kills and 13 digs. Ellen Mullins added 18 digs, while DeeDee Harrison compiled 11 kills and eight blocks.
South Carolina claimed the first set with a 30-28 final, with the teams battling back and forth throughout the set. The Gamecocks came back to take an edge late with a kill from freshman outside hitter Hanna Forst and a block from sophomore middle blocker Frankie Vain and Bruns to gain the 20-19 lead. South Carolina got to set point at 24-23 thanks to a blocking error by the Lady Vols. But it would be a while till the frame ended. A Tennessee service error ended its only chance at taking the set. A Thévenin kill put the Gamecocks back on top, but a Gamecock blocking error tied it again at 28. Thévenin put away the next two, including one down the block, to close the first. Carolina had four set-point opportunities compared to one by Tennessee. Thévenin had seven kills in the frame.
Tennessee came back to take the next set, 25-12, closing with a flurry. The Gamecocks owned a 5-4 lead before the Lady Vols took over. Runs of three and four put the Lady Vols up, 14-8, and the Gamecocks would only get to within five from there. An eight-point string ended it for UT, with Robinson getting two back-row kills and two aces in the final stretch. The Lady Vols hit .385 in the second, getting three or more kills from four different players.
The Lady Vols' roll continued into the third, as they claimed the set, 25-15. Tennessee took a three-point lead early that grew to 14-4 after a seven-point skein. Robinson again played a big roll in the run, posting three kills and a block assist. The Gamecocks tried to make a late stand, but a service error ended the set at 25-15. Tennessee made seven blocks in the set, helping hold the Gamecocks to a -.059 hitting percentage.
The Gamecocks almost forced a fifth set, ultimately falling in the fourth, 26-28. In a frame featuring 13 tie scores and two lead changes, Tennessee took the frame behind seven kills each from Robinson and Sahagian. South Carolina knotted things at 21-21 thanks to a three-point run started by a block from Vain and Forst. Tennessee kept the advantage thanks to a Sahagian kill. That started a series where the teams traded points up until Sahagian's penultimate kill that made it 27-26. She ended the match with her eighth point of the frame, giving UT the four-set win. The Lady Vols hit .271 in the final set.
Tennessee won every stat category, including a .267-.108 advantage in hitting and doubling up the Gamecocks in aces (6-3) and blocks (14.0-7.0). The crowd of 1,068 fans marked the largest in the Volleyball Competition Facility since Sept. 10, 2002, when 1,246 watched the Gamecocks beat Clemson in five.
South Carolina hosts Kentucky on Sunday afternoon at the VCF, with first serve scheduled for 1:30 p.m. EDT. Fans with Vanderbilt football ticket stubs can gain admittance for a dollar to Sunday's match.