South Carolina Volleyball Falls in Hard-Fought Match to Kentucky, 3-1
Oct. 7, 2007
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Freshman middle blocker Megan Laughlin led South Carolina with a career-high-tying 17 kills, but Kentucky's Queen Nzenwa had 20 kills to lead the Wildcats to a 3-1 victory over the Gamecocks, 34-36, 30-28, 30-27, 30-26, at the Volleyball Competition Facility on Sunday afternoon. Kentucky moves to 15-4 on the campaign and 6-2 in Southeastern Conference play, while Carolina falls to 9-8, 2-6 in league action.
Sophomore outside hitter Ivana Kujundzic compiled her fourth-consecutive double-double, tallying 15 kills and 10 digs. Laughlin also topped the squad with four blocks, three aces and a .364 hitting percentage. Junior middle blocker Belita Salters and freshman outside hitter Dani Bedore both collected 10 kills, while Bedore tied Laughlin with three service aces. Sophomore libero Sarah Cline led the team with 24 digs, her third straight match over 20, while freshman Hannah Lawing had 11 digs. Junior setter Petra Lorenzi had her second double-double of the year with 32 assists and 10 digs.
Nicole Britenriker had 17 kills for the Wildcats, while Brooke Bartek had 14. Setter Sarah Rumely nearly had a triple-double after amassing 65 assists, 12 digs and eight kills. Alisa Pierce paced the Blue and White with 18 digs.
Neither team wanted to give up in game one, with the Gamecocks eventually getting the win, 36-34. South Carolina took leads of 4-1, 12-9 and 18-15 before Kentucky moved ahead, 19-18, on an ace by Pierce. The Wildcats would stretch it to 22-19 before Lawing ended a run. The teams traded side-outs until the Gamecocks went back ahead at 28-26 behind a Kujundzic ace, a Laughlin kill and a block by Lawing and Laughlin. The Big Blue would respond with a three-point run of their own, getting a point away from ended the frame after a handling error by the Garnet. But South Carolina would answer back on a Laughlin kill. USC took back the lead, 31-30 after a block from Lawing and Salters and an ace from Bedore. Kentucky would get back the advantage after a Nzenwa kill and a Gamecock error. However, the Wildcats could not shut the door, putting Carolina back on the brink of the win with two consecutive hitting errors. Blaire Hiler would stop the slide and tie the match back up at 34-34, before the Gamecocks would end it with kills from Kujundzic and Laughlin. The Cornell, Ill., native Laughlin had six of her kills in the frame.
The second game proved to be a back-and-forth affair, with neither team getting a good advantage until Kentucky's 15-13 lead. South Carolina fought back to take a 19-17 lead, helped by three UK errors and a Bedore ace. The Wildcats responded with a four-point run, led by consecutive kills from Bartek. The Gamecocks tried to fight back, getting consecutive points to bring it within one at 25-26 after a Bedore kill and a Kentucky hitting error. But the Wildcats would benefit from a USC hitting error, and a Nzenwa kill pushed the lead out to 28-25. With Kentucky at game point, Salters got a kill, while a UK error gave the Gamecocks hope. But Bartek would end the threat with her seventh kill of the game. The Wildcats had one more kill and one more block than the Gamecocks in the frame, while Carolina actually had the advantage in hitting percentage and digs.
After falling down, 2-6, in the third game, Carolina knotted it up at 6-6 after kills from sophomore outside hitter Meredith Moorhead and Laughlin. Kentucky would run again, this time getting five consecutive points on two kills from Britenriker and one from Sarah Mendoza and a block from the duo. After chipping away with two three-point runs, Carolina went on top at 19-17 on a Kujundzic kill and punctuated by a Bedore smash after a long serve reception came back over the net. After a timeout, the Wildcats rebounded with four points of their own to take a 21-19 lead, as three straight points came from Britenriker before she would fall to the floor on the fourth after a USC error. The Wildcats' leading attacker would not return after hopping off the playing surface. The Gamecocks tied it up at 22-22 behind Laughlin's third ace of the game, but Kentucky ran off three more points behind a pair of kills from Nzenwa. South Carolina closed the gap to one, 26-25, after kills from Moorhead and Kujundzic, but Kentucky would hold on, closing out the frame with kills from Lauren Rapp and Hiler. Nzenwa hit a perfect 7-for-7 in the game, helping the Wildcats to a .425 hitting percentage.
Carolina got out to a 17-11 lead behind a run of four points that included a Laughlin kill and solo block and a Jordan Bradosky ace. As they had all afternoon, the Wildcats fought back, taking 10 of the next 11 points, to capture a 21-18 lead. Mendoza had two kills and a solo block in that stretch. South Carolina would move to within one after a UK blocking error, but a Gamecock service error, attack error and a Big Blue block from Nzenwa and Mendoza put Kentucky up, 27-23. Laughlin tried to bring the Garnet and Black back with consecutive kills, but the Wildcats would get three of the final four points, including two from Hiler, to seal the win.
For the match, the Wildcats hit .274, while the Gamecocks tallied a .210 percentage. Kentucky blocked 14 balls, second-most by a Carolina opponent this season. The Big Blue also had advantages in kills, assists and digs.
The Gamecocks head south for a match against No. 6 Florida on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the O'Connell Center before flying to Fayetteville for a Sunday showdown against Arkansas.