Behind Bruns & Wheeler, Gamecock Volleyball Sweeps Alabama
Nov. 6, 2011
by Koby Padgett
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Behind the serving and setting of junior Taylor Bruns and the defense of sophomore Paige Wheeler, South Carolina (12-13, 3-12 SEC) swept past Alabama (11-16, 4-12 SEC) 25-14, 28-26, 25-22, in front of 605 fans at the Volleyball Competition Facility on Sunday afternoon.
Bruns matched a career best with six aces, tallied seven kills and dished out 30 assists in the victory, with her six aces ranking fourth on South Carolina's all-time list for a three-set match. Freshman outside hitter Hanna Forst tied Bruns with a team-high 14 points, as Forst tallied a team-high 12 kills, an ace and a solo block. The libero Wheeler posted a match-best 20 digs and added an ace. Sophomore outside hitter Juliette Thévenin had a double-double with 10 kills and 17 digs. Senior middle blocker Teresa Stenlund added a match-best four block assists, five digs and six kills.
Kayla Fitterer posted 12 kills and 11 digs to lead Alabama. Andrea McQuaid tallied 11 kills and a team-best 15 digs. Cristina Arenas compiled 11 digs, while Stephanie Riley had 30 assists and 10 digs.
The Gamecocks stormed to a 25-14 first-set win behind a .500 hitting percentage and five aces. Bruns started the match with two service aces, while Thévenin posted one in a three-point run that made it 5-1. The Crimson Tide never got closer than the 5-2 score after McQuaid's kill. The Gamecocks closed the set with a 9-3 stand. Bruns had two kills in that stretch, while Thévenin close the frame with a kill.
A tight second set went to the Gamecocks in the end, 28-26, thanks to four blocks in the set. Featuring seven ties and four lead changes, South Carolina came back from a seven-point deficit to tie the frame at 21-21 behind consecutive Forst kills. Alabama got the first try at set point after Leigh Moyer's spike, but a Tide service error gave South Carolina life. A block from Bruns and Stenlund knotted the set at 24-24. The teams traded service errors before Thévenin handed the Gamecocks the advantage with a kill. McQuaid answered to tie it at 26-26, but Thévenin responded again with a kill to give South Carolina a chance to end it. Forst did that with her solo stuff of the Alabama attack, closing it at 28-26. South Carolina recorded 30 digs in the second alone, with Thévenin and Wheeler both posting nine.
South Carolina ran out to an 8-1 lead in the third set and hung on to take it 25-22. Bruns serving gave the Crimson Tide fits to start, with an ace and an unassisted kill from Thévenin part of the 5-0 run that started the set. But Alabama charged back, posting seven-straight points that brought the Tide to within one at 17-16. Both Moyer and Brianne Vande Griend had two kills in the run. Alabama tied it later after a 4-1 skein, with Fitterer providing three of the kills. South Carolina head coach Scott Swanson called timeout and got his team refocused, as the Gamecocks came out and took the final three points to claim the set and match. Stenlund started the run with a kill, followed by a Thévenin ace and punctuated by Forst's kill. Forst, Thévenin and Bruns all had three kills in the final frame.
South Carolina won every stat battle, including an 11-2 advantage in aces and a 7-5 lead in blocks.
The Gamecocks hit the road next weekend to face the top two teams in the SEC Western Division, playing at Arkansas on Friday night and at LSU on Sunday.