South Carolina Drops First Five-Set Affair of 2008 at Georgia
Oct. 24, 2008
ATHENS, Ga. - In a back-and-forth affair at the Ramsey Student Center, the Carolina Gamecocks came out on the short end of the five-set match against host Georgia, 17-25, 25-20, 25-23, 22-25, 15-8, on Friday evening. The loss, South Carolina's first in five sets in 2008, moved the team's record to 16-5 overall and 7-4 in Southeastern Conference play. Georgia improved to 13-9 on the year and 6-5 in league play.
Redshirt senior middle blocker Belita Salters led the Gamecocks with 15 kills and a season-best seven blocks. Outside hitters Ivana Kujundzic and Hannah Lawing both collected double-doubles, as Kujundzic had 14 kills and 14 digs to go with Lawing's 10 kills and 17 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Megan Laughlin added 12 kills and eight digs. Junior libero Sarah Cline had a match- and season-high 22 digs. Maria Taylor topped all players with 17 kills to go with 16 digs, while Erika Clark had 11 kills and 20 digs. Lindsay Gehan contributed 11 kills, while libero Carla Tietz had 18 digs.
The Gamecocks ran out to a 9-5 lead in the first set behind three kills and an ace from Laughlin. The lead grew to 16-10 after a three-point run that included a Laughlin kill and a block by Laughlin and redshirt freshman Tory Anderson. A late four-point run on Laughlin's serve pushed the South Carolina advantage to 22-15. The Bulldogs got consecutive kills from Ann Dylla, but the Gamecocks closed out the frame at 25-17 with back-to-back kills by Lawing and a smash by Salters. Laughlin had 6.5 points in the frame to lead South Carolina, while the squad hit .317 overall.
Georgia got a 10-5 lead in the second set after a four-point run that contained three Gamecocks errors, including one blocking error. The Bulldogs extended the advantage to 17-10 after getting seven out of nine points. South Carolina put together a three-point run on kills by Salters and a block by the redshirt senior and Denson-Dorman to close to within four at 21-17. But the squads traded side outs from there, with Taylor ending the second at 25-20 with her fifth kill of the frame. The Bulldogs had six blocks in the second set alone.
The third set started much like the second for the home team, as Georgia got an 11-5 lead after a pair of dumps by setter Kathleen Gates came around a Gamecock setting error. The Red and Black continually grew the lead throughout the frame, making it 21-12 after another Gates kill capped a three-point skein. South Carolina tried to make a stand there, putting together a four-point string around a pair of Laughlin kills. Consecutive kills by Kujundzic, including one from the back row, got the Gamecocks within four. After a set error, South Carolina tied up the match with a five-point run that included two block assists by Salters, first with Hannah Lawing, then with Anderson. After using its final timeout, Georgia got to set point after a Gehan kill. Taylor then wrapped up the frame, 25-23, with her shot off the block, her fifth kill of the frame. The Bulldogs made 21 digs in the third.
In the fourth, the Bulldogs got out to a 5-2 advantage before the Gamecocks came back behind three Lawing kills to take a 7-6 lead. That would be short-lived, as Georgia took four-straight points to garner a 10-7 lead. That stretched to 12-8 before the Gamecocks closed the gap to one at 13-12. A Taylor smash and a Bulldog block pushed the Georgia lead back to three at 15-12. The advantage grew to 18-14 before a block by freshman Teresa Stenlund and a Georgia error got the Gamecocks to within two. After a service error, South Carolina tied up the frame at 19-19 on kills by Salters and Lawing and a Bulldog hitting error. The Garnet and Black took its second lead in the fourth at 21-20 after a Salters kill and a Georgia setting error, forcing Georgia to use a timeout. But it did not stop Carolina, as the Gamecocks got two more points, including a Lawing ace, to get it to 23-20. After a Gates dump, Kujundzic collected her third kill of the frame to put the Garnet and Black to set point. Valentina Gonzalez extended the set, but just by a point as Kujundzic smashed another ball to give the Gamecocks the 25-22 set win. Cline had five digs, while Lawing added four kills.
Georgia got the first advantage in the final set at 5-2 after kills by Gonzalez and Taylor and a Gamecock error. After the Carolina timeout, Taylor put away another ahead of consecutive kills by Clark to put the Bulldogs up, 8-2. A block by Dylla and Taylor pushed the Bulldog run to seven, but Kujundzic got a kill and an ace to give South Carolina hope at 9-4. But that hope was dashed in the end, as Georgia got to set point on Taylor's final kill. A set error by the Gamecocks ended the set at 15-8 and the match in Georgia's favor. The Bulldogs hit .692 in the final frame.
South Carolina had an edge only in digs over Georgia, who out-hit and out-blocked the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks close out the road trip at LSU on Sunday. First serve is set for 1:30 p.m. CDT in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center.