Oct. 1, 2017
SOUTH CAROLINA 3, TENNESSEE 1
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina volleyball team celebrated its annual Dig Pink match Sunday afternoon, and rode a strong offensive performance to take a 3-1 win over Tennessee (8-5, 1-3 SEC). The Gamecocks hit .301 for the match, with Mikayla Shields leading the way with 21 kills. With the win, the team improves to 9-6 this season, 2-1 in conference play.
SET 1: It was an all-out slugfest in the opening game, with the two sides combining to hit .446. There would be 10 ties and four lead changes, but the Gamecocks got the key run late to take the 25-23 win. Jess Vastine served the team to a 3-0 run that broke a 21-all tie, with Abreia Epps, Shields and Alicia Starr contributing kills in the run. That trio would account for 15 of the team’s 20 kills in the set, and Starr would put down the clinching point to give the team a 1-0 lead.
SET 2: The team had flashbacks to Friday’s setback to LSU, as the Volunteers routed Carolina, 25-17, to even the match. The Volunteers held the Gamecocks to a .095 hitting percentage in the game and blocked down five balls to take control early and cruise to the big win.
SET 3: Tennessee held the lead to start the third set as well, but South Carolina was able to break old habits and stormed back to claim the critical third set, 27-25. The Volunteers led 16-10 early thanks to their big block and an efficient attack through their middle hitters. The Gamecocks rallied again behind Vastine’s serve, and chipped away to tie the set back up at 18 to set up the dramatic home stretch.
The set would be tied up at 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 before the Gamecocks had serve for set point with a 24-23 lead. The Vols sided out, then used an ace to give them the set point serve. Shields got the kills to tie the set up at 25, then went back to serve and got an ace for the lead. Vastine capped the big win with a kill to give Carolina the 2-1 advantage. All told, the set featured seven lead changes and 10 ties.
SET 4: With the lead back, South Carolina would not let Tennessee hang around and closed out the match with a 25-17 win in the fourth. The Gamecocks led 9-8 early, but broke the set up with a 10-3 run from that point on. All five hitters on the court posted at least two kills each in the set, led by five from Shields and a 4-for-4 game from Mikayla Robinson on the attack. All together, South Carolina hit a match-high .483 in the fourth to cruise to the win.
Stat of the Match
The South Carolina offense was able to adjust to Tennessee’s big block and hit .301 in the match. The Gamecocks made just five unforced attack errors for the match, and had two sets with a hitting percentage above .450.
The team has one more match left in its home stand. Next weekend will feature just one match, a showdown with Georgia at the Carolina Volleyball Center at 7 p.m. Friday. The game will air on WatchESPN.
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