Gamecocks Fall to No. 25 Kentucky, 3-0
Oct. 12, 2008
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Despite great efforts from redshirt senior Belita Salters and junior Meredith Moorhead, the Gamecocks could not overcome 25th-ranked Kentucky in a 25-22, 25-18, 25-22 loss at the Volleyball Competition Facility on Sunday afternoon. The setback moves South Carolina to 14-3 on the season and 6-2 in the Southeastern Conference. The Wildcats take sole possession of second place in the SEC with a 7-1 mark in league play to go with their 16-3 overall record.
Salters led all players with 13 kills while hitting .565 in the contest. Moorhead topped everyone with her .667 hitting percentage on eight kills. Junior Ivana Kujundzic had nine kills, while redshirt freshman Tory Anderson, making just her fourth career due to an injury to sophomore Megan Laughlin, added seven kills. Senior Dinelia Concepcion had a team-high nine digs. Sarah Mendoza led Kentucky with 12 kills and added 12 digs, while Queen Nzenwa and Lauren Rapp added 11 and 10 kills, respectively. UK libero BriAnne Sauer finished with a match-high 13 digs.
Kentucky had leads of 7-4, 10-7 and 14-11 early in the first set, but the Gamecocks would tie the match at 16-16 after three-consecutive Wildcat attacking errors. The squads kept trading points until Rapp got her third and final kill of the frame to put Kentucky up by one at 22-21. That started a three-point UK run that saw Nzenwa collect two-straight kills, the first on an overpass by South Carolina, to put the visitors to set point. Anderson kept the frame alive with a kill, but Nzenwa answered with a spike to end the frame. An uncharacteristic three service errors doomed the Gamecocks.
After getting down 5-1 in the second set, South Carolina would rebound to take a 10-9 lead after consecutive Kentucky attacking errors. The Big Blue got the advantage back at 14-12 after a Mendoza kill and a block from Nzenwa and Rapp. That lead grew to 18-13 after a four-point string that was bookended by Rapp kills. Kentucky closed out the frame with a block from Becky Pavan and Rapp. The Gamecocks had just seven digs in the frame and hit a match-worst .129.
South Carolina came out of the break looking energized and took a 3-0 lead behind kills from Moorhead and Salters and a block by Salters and junior Bridget Denson-Dorman. The Gamecocks kept the advantage until a three-point swing, when Rapp got two kills and a solo block to put the Wildcats back on top, 12-10. The Garnet and Black would get the advantage again late at 20-19 thanks to another Denson-Dorman and Salters block. But Kentucky would not be denied, getting to match point after a kill by setter Sarah Rumely, a block by Rumely and Nzenwa and a Rapp ace. Kujundzic kept the match alive one more point, but Nzenwa closed the match with her fifth kill of the set. Kentucky hit .394 in the final frame.
The Wildcats held the advantage in kills, hitting percentage, assists, aces, digs and blocks over the Gamecocks.
South Carolina heads south to play top-10 squad Florida on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center in Gainesville, Fla. Sun Sports TV will show the game live in the Sunshine State.