Nov. 24, 2017
SOUTH CAROLINA VS. MISS. STATE
COLUMBIA, S.C. - The South Carolina volleyball team will play its final match of the 2017 season at home Friday night, hosting Mississippi State at 7 p.m. The team will honor seniors Abreia Epps and Courtney McKeag prior to the start of the match, and admission is free for fans.
SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE
The Bulldogs brought a large contingent of newcomers into the season, as the program lost five starters from 2016 and welcomed in 10 new student-athletes for third-year head coach David McFatrich. That has come with growing pains in SEC play, with MSU still winless through 16 matches entering the final week and has taken just five sets total in conference play. Pacing the offense are returning letterwinnners Jelena Vujcin (3.47 kills per set) and Kris Carr (2.71 kills), with freshman Sara Maddox adding in 2.36 kills per set from the right side. Defensively, freshmen middles Laura Rose Gray and Liv Benner lead the team in blocks, and senior DS/libero Peyton Harris leads the team with 3.05 digs per set. The Bulldogs rank fourth in the SEC for service aces, but dead last in team hitting percentage and opponent hitting percentage.
LAST TIME VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE...
South Carolina volleyball opened the SEC season with a 3-2 win at Mississippi State on Sept. 22, 19-25, 25-17, 26-24, 22-25, 15-6. The team opened the conference slate with a road win for the first time since 2003. South Carolina out-blocked Mississippi State 10-2 for the night, and the Bulldogs hit just .079 in the match, the lowest by a Gamecock opponent since Gardner-Webb on Sept. 17, 2016. Mikayla Shields and Aubrey Ezell each went over 20 digs in the match, but 18 service errors from the Gamecocks kept the Bulldogs hanging around until a convincing 15-6 win in the fifth set.
PREVIOUS MATCH NOTABLES (OLE MISS)
Ole Miss' defense came into the night ranked second in the SEC in digs per set with a 16.08 average, and the Rebels were even better on Wednesday. They finished with 83 digs, including 27 in the first set alone, to limit Carolina to a .174 hitting percentage. The 83 digs are the most by a Gamecock opponent all season; two more than second-place Alabama had over five sets on Oct. 22.
Courtney Koehler earned her 10th double-double of the season behind her 38 assists and 14 digs. She has four double-doubles in the last seven matches, and has either set or matched her career high for digs twice in the last three matches.
Aubrey Ezell matched her personal best with her 47th ace of the season in the third set. The junior now has the two highest ace totals of the last 15 years.
Thanks to her team-high 19 digs, Ezell became the fourth Gamecock ever with 500 digs in a single season. The previous three were Mikaela Christiaansen (2014), Hannah Lawing (2010) and Diane Denton (1987).
Freshman Mikayla Robinson moved into the top five in the rally-scoring era for solo blocks, block assists and total blocks after finishing with eight Wednesday night. She has the most block assists by a Gamecock freshman since 1990.
Mikayla Shields moved into the rally-scoring era top 10 for career points, now with 860.0 in her career. The sophomore's 17 kills also moved up to ninth for career kills in the rally-scoring era, with 751.
Alicia Starr shined with five kills in the second set; Starr hadn't posted five kills in a whole game since Oct. 22, a span of five matches. The sophomore also set a career high for digs, with 13.