Volleyball Hosts Georgia and LSU to Start SEC Slate

Sept. 13, 2012

COLUMBIA, S.C. -


GAMECOCK VOLLEYBALL
September 13, 2012

Gamecocks' Weekend Schedule
Fri., Sept. 14 vs. Georgia, 7 p.m.
Gametracker | Live Video | @GamecockVolley | Season Tickets
Promotion: $1 admission for all, National Cream-Filled Doughnut Day: 1st 100 fans receive a free doughnut

Sun., Sept. 16 vs. LSU, 1:30 p.m.
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Promotions: $1 admission for anyone with ticket stub from Saturday's UAB football game

2012 SC VB Notes (Sept. 13) Get Acrobat Reader
2012 SC VB Stats (Sept. 8) Get Acrobat Reader

South Carolina Team Notes

  • The 11-0 start for the Gamecocks is the second best in the program's NCAA-era history. The 1983 team began the season 12-0.
  • South Carolina enters the weekend as one of 10 teams in NCAA Division I still undefeated.
  • The Gamecocks have the largest difference between their hitting percentage and their foes in the SEC. The .185 difference (.323-.165) tops Missouri (.303-.163) for that honor.
  • Only two opponents have hit over .200 against South Carolina: East Tennessee State (.207) and UAB (.285).
  • South Carolina has only been out-blocked twice thus far in 2012 (2-0), while the 2011 team was topped on 13 occasions (1-12 in those matches).
  • South Carolina has posted a better hitting percentage than its opposition in all 11 matches and more kills and digs than all but one foe in non-conference play.
  • Out of the six hitters who have played in half the sets and averaged at least one kill per set, five hit over .250 and three are at .340 or better.
  • The Gamecocks have not lost a second set this season.

More on the Winning Streak

  • The 11-match winning streak is tied for the third-longest skein in program history, matching stretches the 2002 and 2008 teams posted.
  • The two longest winning streaks both came in 1983, as the team opened the year with a 12-win skein and added a 14-match streak later in the year.
  • For the second-consecutive year, South Carolina is the last undefeated team in the Southeastern Conference.

Gamecocks in the SEC Stats

  • As a team, the Gamecocks rank second the SEC in hitting percentage (.323).
  • They are first in assists (13.78) and second in kills (14.70), both per-set rates.
  • Juliette Thévenin is fourth in kills (4.11) and fifth in points (4.46).
  • Cara Howley stands fourth in hitting percentage (.398), while Darian Dozier (.360, 10th) and Thévenin (.343, 15th) are also ranked.
  • Howley also stands tied for 18th in service aces (0.29).
  • Taylor Bruns is 11th (8.57) in assists per set.
  • Dozier is tied for ninth in blocks per set (1.00).
  • Paige Wheeler is fifth in the SEC in digs per set (4.25).
  • South Carolina hit the highest percentage for an SEC in four-set match (.370 vs. Niagara) and the second best in a five-setter (.297 vs. ETSU).

Attacking the Record Book

  • Taylor Bruns is seventh in assists (2,205) and eighth in assists per set (7.11).
  • Juliette Thévenin stands 18th in SC history with 815 kills and 17th with 2,142 attacks.
  • With 15 more kills, Thévenin will tie Colleen McKenzie for 17th.
  • Thévenin's now second in kills per set (3.72) and 10th in digs per set (2.83) on the career charts.
  • Paige Wheeler is third on SC's career charts in digs per set (3.52).

Record-Charting Single-Match Performances

  • Sophomore Bethanie Thomas's three solo blocks vs. ETSU (8/25) tied for second on the five-set match listing.

Preseason Tournament Accolades

  • Cara Howley earned Gamecock Invitational MVP honors.
  • Joining Howley on the all-tournament team were Christina Vereb and Paige Wheeler.
  • Juliette Thévenin took Patriot Invitational Most Outstanding Player and Best Hitter honors.
  • Taylor Bruns was named Best Setter, and Wheeler claimed Best Defender accolades.
  • Bruns claimed the MVP award for the Carolina Clash, and joining her on the all-tournament team was Howley and Thévenin.

Historical Records

  • South Carolina is 717-536 (.572) all-time in volleyball.
  • In the Volleyball Competition Facility, the team stands at 144-70 (.673).

Competition Level Rising

  • The three opponents in the 2012 Carolina Clash held better final 2011 RPIs than all but one of SC's first eight foes.
  • Clemson finished at 54, UAB 84 and Winthrop 149 in the last RPI of 2011 (Niagara was 146).
  • Georgia finished 2011 with an RPI of 123; LSU at 66 (South Carolina ended 2011 at 113).

Home Matches Notes

  • South Carolina is playing 17 matches plus one exhibition in the Volleyball Competition Facility this fall, the most since moving into the building in 1996.
  • It's one more than the inaugural season of the VCF, when SC hosted the 1996 SEC Tournament.
  • The most home matches ever for South Carolina came in 1990, when the team hosted 21 contests.
  • The match against Clemson on Sept. 7 had 1,512 fans in attendance, the third-largest crowd in the history of the Volleyball Competition Facility.
  • It was the largest crowd since 2001 in the building, when 1,793 people packed the stands for the Sept. 21 match against Florida.
  • The 1,512 fans were nearly 250 over the capacity of the gym in the setup the team utilized starting during SEC play last fall.

(Recent) Home Tournament History

  • South Carolina has hosted a home tournament every year since 2000 except for 2001 and 2005.
  • The Gamecocks have won six of the last seven home non-conference events, including perfect marks in both tourneys this fall.
  • This is the first year since 2003 that the Gamecocks have hosted two pre-conference tournaments.

South Carolina Overview

  • South Carolina returns four starters and its starting libero from the 2011 team.
  • That 2011 team, the first coached by Scott Swanson, doubled the win total from the previous year.
  • The leading attacker by kills, junior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin, is back.
  • The top defender by digs, junior libero Paige Wheeler, returns.
  • Setters Taylor Bruns and Lexie Pawlik make up the vast majority of the 97 percent of assists back.
  • The Gamecocks lost almost 50 percent of the team blocks from last season.
  • The next highest total of "lost" stats are kills, where 32.2 percent departed.
  • Last season, the Gamecocks led the SEC in digs per set. Only 12.2 percent of those departed.

Roster Notes

  • Eight freshman, including seven true rookies, are a part of the 17-person roster.
  • Three players hail from each South Carolina and Texas, the most on the team.
  • A pair of student-athletes both hail from California and Maryland.
  • Six other states and another country are represented by the seven remaining athletes.
  • A total of 15 players have appeared on the court so far. Only freshmen Sarah Blomgren and Kira Speer have not seen any action.

Scouting Georgia
The Bulldogs bring a 6-3 record into the SEC opening weekend, with two of the losses in an opponent's gym, including a four-set loss at No. 8 Florida State. Georgia has dropped three of their last four, including the last two contests against IPFW and Michigan State. The Bulldogs are strong at the net, posting 2.74 blocks per set, which stands third in the SEC. The Bulldogs are sixth in the league in opponent hitting percentage.

Tirah Le'au leads the Bulldogs' offense, posting 3.32 kills per set. Returning starter Brittany Northcutt missed last weekend's action, but she stands second on the team with 2.87 kills per set. Chloe Buckendahl is third with 2.39 kills per set, but she's second on the team with 3.46 digs per set, not far behind libero Allison Summers' 4.26 digs average. Elena Perri leads the Bulldogs with 1.19 blocks per set, while three others (Jasmine Eatmon, Briana Bahr, Northcutt) hold blocks averages of 0.80 or better. Northcutt is also the best Bulldog server, with a 0.33 ace average. Kaylee Kehoe and Maggie Baumert serve as the setters, averaging 5.97 and 5.33 assists per set, respectively.

Series History vs. the Bulldogs
The most-played series for South Carolina, Georgia owns a 45-17 advantage in the contests that date back to 1975. Since joining the SEC, the Gamecocks have gone 16-28 against the Bulldogs, including a 9-12 mark at home. In the history of the Volleyball Competition Facility, South Carolina holds an 8-7 lead. The two teams split last year's series, with each team winning on its home court.

The Last Time vs. Georgia - Nov. 20, 2011
Behind a relentless defensive effort and big days from Teresa Stenlund and Cara Howley, South Carolina downed Georgia in four sets, 15-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-15, at the Volleyball Competition Facility.

Howley led all attackers with her 14 kills, while Stenlund had 12, with both hitting over .300 to lead the Gamecocks. Stenlund also posted a team-high four blocks. Juliette Thévenin added a double-double with 10 kills and 13 digs. Paige Wheeler tallied 28 digs, and Taylor Bruns contributed 45 assists and nine digs. Christina Glover posted eight kills and 11 digs in her reserve appearance, while Megan Kent added eight kills and three block assists.

Kathleen Luft led Georgia with 12 kills, while Elizabeth Reid and Briana Bahr had 11 and 10, respectively. Reid also topped the Bulldogs with five blocks. Carla Tietz had 19 digs, Allison Summers made 13 and Brittany Northcutt 11. Kathleen Gates had 37 assists, six kills, seven digs and two aces.

Scouting LSU
The defending SEC West champs enter conference action with a 4-5 record, with four of their five losses coming to nationally-ranked teams. The Tigers are strong in the serving game, standing third in the SEC standings with 1.54 aces per set. As a team, LSU is in the bottom two in hitting percentage, kills, assists, digs and opponent hitting percentage.

Desiree Elliott leads LSU with her 3.46 kills per set, while Madie Jones ranks second with 3.07 a frame. Setter Malorie Pardo is back guiding the offense, averaging 10.11 assists a set, and she adds 0.32 aces a frame. Meghan Mannari leads LSU's back-line defense with 4.18 digs per set and the service game with 0.36 aces a set. Sam Delahoussaye is third in digs with 2.14, while Cati Leak, the third offensive option with 2.29 kills a set, is second in digs with 2.36. Khourtni Fears tops the Tigers and stands third in the SEC with 1.23 blocks per set.

Series History vs. the Tigers
LSU holds a 18-12 lead in the all-time series that began when South Carolina entered the SEC. The Tigers have won seven straight, going back to 2008. In the Volleyball Competition Facility, the teams have split the 12 contests. South Carolina's last two wins came at home in 2007 and 2008.

The Last Time vs. LSU - Nov. 13, 2011
South Carolina came out strong at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, taking the first two sets, but LSU fought back and claimed the final three sets in a five-set win 22-25, 24-26, 25-21, 25-21, 15-6.

Madie Jones led LSU with 23 kills and six blocks, three solo. Michele Williams added 15 kills, while Helen Boyle and Desiree Elliott both posted 12 kills. Meghan Mannari tallied a match-high 39 digs, with Lauren Waclawczyk contributing 15. Malorie Pardo added 56 assists and 12 digs.

Paige Wheeler led the Gamecocks with 27 digs. Juliette Thévenin (19 kills and 10 digs) and Taylor Bruns (47 assists and 14 digs) both tallied double-doubles. Teresa Stenlund and Cara Howley both tallied 11 kills and three blocks, while Howley also posted a career-best three aces. Megan Kent posted a career-best 10 kills. Lindsey Craft added 14 digs, and Bethanie Thomas contributed 12.