Oct. 4, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. - South Carolina (10-5, 2-4 SEC) made a valiant comeback attempt after dropping the first two sets to No. 15 Kentucky (15-1, 5-0 SEC), but the Gamecocks' upset bid fell points short in the Wildcats' 25-20, 25-21, 23-25, 19-25, 15-13 win in front of 706 fans at the Volleyball Competition Facility on Sunday afternoon.
Gamecock senior outside hitter Ivana Kujundzic led the Gamecocks offensively with 22 kills while adding 12 digs. Junior outside hitter Hannah Lawing also had a double-double with a match-high 20 digs and 15 kills. Senior setter Bridget-Denson Dorman had 35 assists and 12 digs, while senior libero Sarah Cline added 14 digs. Junior middle blocker Megan Laughlin had 13 kills, while senior Meredith Moorhead and sophomore Teresa Stenlund added five block assists. Sarah Mendoza led the Wildcats with her double-double of 21 kills and 12 digs. Becky Pavan added 16 kills and a match-best seven blocks, while Lauren Rapp posted 10 kills. Sarah Rumely had double digits in both assists with 51 and digs with 11. BriAnne Sauer had 18 digs to lead Kentucky with Stephanie Klefot adding 10.
Kentucky had control throughout the first set, getting up 20-11 at one point while keeping South Carolina from getting consecutive points. The Gamecocks put together a six-point string, however, to make it a contest, getting three kills from Kujundzic in the run. But Kentucky would prevail, taking the frame at 25-20 on a Rumely dump. The setter had 10 assists and three kills in the first while guiding UK to a .297 hitting percentage.
The Wildcats took a 10-5 lead in the second before the Gamecocks tried to interrupt their momentum with a timeout. It helped for a spell, as South Carolina ran off three straight points to get back in the set. The Garnet and Black would make the gap just one on consecutive Laughlin kills before tying it later at 15-15 on another Laughlin swing. The squads traded points for a bit until a four-point Kentucky run put Big Blue back up by three, 20-17. That gap was all the Wildcats needed, as Mendoza wrapped up the second on her fourth kill of the frame. Pavan also had four kills in the second.
No team really got control in the third set, as there were 16 tie scores and eight lead changes in the frame. South Carolina took a 24-21 advantage after a three-point skein capped by a Laughlin kill. Kentucky staved off two Gamecock set points before Kujundzic could find the floor with a shot to end it at 25-23. The Serbian senior had seven kills in the third. The Wildcats, however, out-hit the Gamecocks, .382-.351, in the frame.
A five-point Kentucky run gave the Big Blue an 11-5 advantage in the fourth. Pavan had two blocks and a kill during the stretch. But South Carolina stormed back behind reserve setter Taylor Bruns. The freshman helped the Gamecocks put together a nine-point run on her serves to take an 18-16 advantage. Carolina did not look back, taking a 25-19 win when Bruns posted just her second career kill. Kujundzic had five kills in the frame, while the Wildcats were held to a .105 hitting percentage.
Kentucky got a two-point advantage three times before the changeover in the fifth, but that didn't occur until a Pavan kill broke the final tie at 8-7. The Wildcats got a 10-7 advantage after a block from Rapp and Pavan. South Carolina got back to within one, but Kentucky pressed again, getting to set point after a four-point swing capped by a Mendoza kill at 14-9. There was still fight in the Gamecocks, as Bruns stepped behind the end line to serve. Lawing and Stenlund had kills ahead of two Wildcat attacking errors, closing it to 14-13. But Mendoza silenced the crowd for the last time with her fourth kill in the final set. Two Kentucky aces were the difference in the frame's outcome.
South Carolina held the advantage in kills (66-65) and digs (70-66), while Kentucky had the lead in aces (6-5), blocks (14.0-7.0) and hitting percentage (.222-.218). Kujundzic became the 11th student-athlete in South Carolina history with 1,000 kills in her career on her first in the fourth set.
The Gamecocks close out the five-match homestand on Wednesday night when nationally ranked Florida comes to the Volleyball Competition Facility. First serve for the match that will be broadcast by ESPNU is set for 7:05 p.m. EDT.
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