Gamecocks Hit the Road to Auburn and No. 21 Tennessee
Sept. 20, 2012
COACH SWANSON PREVIEW
September 20, 2012
Gamecocks' Weekend Schedule
Fri., Sept. 21 at Auburn | 8 p.m. EDT | Gametracker | Live Video | @GamecockVolley
Sun., Sept. 23 at No. 21 Tennessee | 1 p.m. EDT | Gametracker | Live Video | @GamecockVolley
2012 SC VB Notes (9/20)
2012 SC VB Stats (Sept. 16)
South Carolina Team Notes
- The 13-0 start for the Gamecocks is the best in the program's NCAA-era history. The 1983 team began the season 12-0.
- South Carolina ranks as one of seven teams in NCAA Division I still undefeated entering Thursday's action.
- Four teams went undefeated in the opening weekend of SEC play: Florida, Missouri, Texas A&M and South Carolina.
- The Gamecocks have the second-largest difference between their hitting percentage and their foes in the SEC. The .134 difference (.311-.177) is only bettered by Missouri (.306-.164).
- Only two non-conference opponents hit over .200 against South Carolina: East Tennessee State (.207) and UAB (.285). Both Georgia (.214) and LSU (.256) topped the mark.
- South Carolina has only been out-blocked three times thus far in 2012 (3-0), while the 2011 team was topped on 13 occasions (1-12 in those matches).
- South Carolina has posted a better hitting percentage, more kills and more digs than all but one foe in 2012.
- Out of the six hitters who have played in half the sets and averaged at least one kill per set, five hit over .240 and three are at .325 or better.
- For the second-consecutive year, South Carolina is the last undefeated team in the Southeastern Conference.
More on the Winning Streak
- The 13-match winning streak is the second-longest documented skein in program history.
- The longest winning streak came in 1983, as the team posted a 14-match streak from Oct. 15-Nov. 18.
- The loss that ended the longest skein came in the 1983 Metro Conference Tournament final. Florida State won the five-set match to earn the automatic berth to the third NCAA Tournament. The field only had 28 teams at the time.
Attacking the Record Book
- Taylor Bruns is seventh in assists (2,289) and eighth in assists per set (7.20).
- Juliette Thévenin stands 15th in SC history with 855 kills and 2,239 attacks.
- With 37 more kills, Thévenin will tie Belita Salters for 14th. Eleven more attacks move Thévenin past Colleen McKenzie for 14th on that list.
- Thévenin's now second in kills per set (3.77) and 10th in digs per set (2.80) on the career charts.
- Paige Wheeler is third on SC's career charts in digs per set (3.54).
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.
Gamecocks in the SEC Stat Superlatives
- South Carolina hit the second-highest hitting percentage in four-set match (.370 vs. Niagara) and t in a five-setter (.297 vs. ETSU) for an SEC team this fall.
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.
- South Carolina is 719-536 (.573) all-time in volleyball.
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.
- Auburn closed last year at 120. Tennessee stood at 14 (South Carolina ended 2011 at 113).
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.
- 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.
- For the 17th-consecutive season, the Gamecocks have had at least one international player.
- A total of 16 players have appeared on the court so far. Only freshman Kira Speer has not seen any action and is on track for a redshirt year.
Looking to Change Fortune vs. Ranked Teams
Since 1991, the Gamecocks hold a 8-92 record against ranked opponents. Half of those wins over ranked teams have come against SEC foes, two over a Florida team (1994 and 2006). Also, never has a win over a ranked team come on the road in SEC play. Only once have the Gamecocks won a match against a ranked team at its gym (Notre Dame, 9/14/2003).
Auburn enters Friday's contest with a 10-2 record after going 1-1 during the SEC opening weekend, sweeping Mississippi State before falling in four at Texas A&M. The Tigers defense has been strong, holding foes to a .153 hitting percentage, third in the league. That's helped by the 2.46 blocks per set the team averages, fifth in the SEC, and 17.05 digs per set, third in the SEC. Auburn is seventh in kills, ninth in assists and 11th in service aces in the SEC stat rankings.
In the 6-2 alignment, Auburn has a balanced offensive attack, led by Sarah Bullock's 3.21 kills per set. Bullock also stands second on the team with 3.11 digs per set, but she may be out after leaving the Texas A&M contest. Katherine Culwell stands second on the team with 2.93 kills per set, while she's blocking 0.83 attacks a frame. Camila Jersonsky hits at .387 and holds a 1.24 blocks average, both best on the team, while she's third in kills at a 2.46 per-set average. Chelsea Wintzinger and Ciara Richards do the setting, with both averaging over five assists a set, and libero Sarah Wroblicky ranks third in the SEC with 4.95 digs per set. Richards is the toughest server, posting 0.37 aces a set, third in the SEC.
Series History vs. the Tigers
South Carolina owns a 21-11 advantage in the all-time series against the Tigers, including a 10-5 mark in Auburn. The Gamecocks had a 10-match winning streak on the plains snapped in 2009, and the Tigers have won the last two years in the Student Activities Center as well. The two teams split last year's outings.
The Last Time vs. Auburn - Nov. 18, 2011
In a hard-fought match on Senior Night, South Carolina came through with a four-set win over Auburn, taking the sets 25-17, 25-19, 20-25, 30-28 in front of 706 fans at the VCF.
Middle blocker Teresa Stenlund posted 10 kills for the Gamecocks. Setter Taylor Bruns and outside hitter Juliette Thévenin both had double-doubles, as Bruns posted 42 assists and 10 digs to compliment Thévenin's 19 kills and 15 digs. Thévenin also led South Carolina in hitting with her .306 mark. Libero Paige Wheeler compiled a match-best 18 digs, and outside hitter Bethanie Thomas added 11. Outside hitter Cara Howley had 11 points on eight kills and a team-best four block assists.
Auburn's Brittany Rhude and Chloe Rowand both posted career bests in kills, with 17 and 12, respectively. Kathia Rud also had 16 kills. MacKenzy Harper and Sarah Bullock both made 16 digs, while Chelsea Wintzinger posted 30 assists and 11 digs.
Scouting No. 21 Tennessee
The preseason choice of the league's coaches to take the SEC title, the Lady Vols begin the weekend with an 8-3 record and a 1-1 SEC mark. Tennessee is the second-best blocking team in the league so far, averaging 2.65 blocks a set. The Lady Vols stand fourth in hitting percentage and kills.
Leading the Lady Vols is Kelsey Robinson, who tops the SEC with 4.95 kills per set. An all-around threat, she also leads Tennessee with 3.71 digs a set and 0.34 aces a frame. Leslie Cikra hits .330, blocks one attack a frame, best on the team, and stands second with 2.98 kills per set. Tiffany Baker stands third with 2.95 kills per set. Mary Pollmiller guides the Lady Vol attack, averaging 11 assists, while she also contributes 2.23 digs per set. Ellen Mullins posts 3.68 digs per set as the libero.
Series History vs. the Lady Vols
The earliest documented foe of South Carolina, Tennessee holds a 31-25 advantage in the series, including seven-straight Lady Vol wins. When playing in Knoxville, the Gamecocks are 9-18, last winning on Nov. 8, 2002.
The Last Time vs. Tennessee - Nov. 13, 2011
No. 20 Tennessee swept South Carolina, 25-13, 25-20, 25-14 at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Tiffany Baker topped Tennessee, hitting .519 with 15 kills and 12 digs. Kelsey Robinson added 13 kills and 10 digs, while Ellen Mullins posted 11 digs. Dee Dee Harrison had seven kills and four blocks, two of those solo, and Leslie Cikra contributed eight kills on a .636 hitting percentage.
South Carolina middle blocker Megan Kent posted a .545 hitting percentage and seven kills, and outside hitter Juliette Thévenin made nine kills and 11 digs. Libero Paige Wheeler compiled a team-high 12 digs.