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Oct. 13, 2002

Box Score

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Down two games to one, South Carolina was able to rally and remain undefeated in Southeastern Conference play and at home as the Gamecocks defeated Tennessee 3-2. Senior Sam Alban made four crucial kills in game five to lead Carolina to victory. Game scores were 30-27, 27-20, 28-30, 30-22, and 15-10.

South Carolina (14-3, 7-0 SEC) has recorded their second-best start in Southeastern Conference play in the school’s history. Carolina began the 1997 conference season with nine straight wins before falling to Florida.

“First I want to say that our home crowd was the seventh man for us today,” said Carolina Head Coach Kim Christopher. “They stayed with us and had confidence in us throughout the entire match. That was a big factor. Tennessee played very well. I know on paper it may look like they didn’t produce big numbers, but they did what they needed to at critical times. Alban was the spark for us today. She kept us in the game with critical plays and blocks. She led us with 21 kills and that is definitely the key for us today.”

South Carolina is 2-0 in five game matches this year. Tennessee falls to 12-6, 2-4 SEC in the 2002 campaign. The last two meetings between South Carolina and Tennessee both went to five games. Last year, at the SEC Tournament in Knoxville, South Carolina edged Tennessee 3-2 in the first round. South Carolina now leads the all-time series 20-17 over the Lady Vols and leads Tennessee 2-1 in five game matches.

USC recorded 75 digs, the most in a five game match this year. Carolina’s 69 kills is the second most in a five game match. Alban’s 21 kills ties a team season high and she is the second player to reach the 20-plus kill mark this year.

South Carolina took a quick 18-11 lead in game one, but Tennessee battled their way back to tie the game at 22. The Gamecocks were unable to stop the Lady Vols’ outside hitter Janelle Hester. Hester notched six kills against the Gamecocks in the game.

Berna Dwyer lead Carolina with five kills in a close game two while Carolina out hit Tennessee .200 to .081. South Carolina also had nine blocks to UT’s four, yet Tennessee was able to squeak by 30-27 as Carolina committed five service errors in game two.

Alban led South Carolina in game three with seven kills. Once again, USC was not able to hit the ball well, only hitting .167 to Tennessee’s .326 in the game. South Carolina had a 26-23 lead late in game three, but Tennessee was able to rally back and win 30-28 and taking a 2-1 lead in the match.

Carolina made a significant improvement in hitting in game four, hitting .268 while Tennessee was only able to hit .095. Game four was close early on, with South Carolina maintaining a slim 12-10 lead until the Gamecocks broke loose and went on a quick 8-1 run. Tennessee was unable to recover from the run as USC went on to win game four 30-22.

It looked grim for Carolina as UT took a quick 4-1 lead in the pivotal game five, but Alban stepped up and lead the Gamecocks as she registered four kills and hit 1.000. Dwyer also hit 1.000, registering two kills in game five. Tennessee was unable to stop the Alban-Dwyer duo as Carolina took game five 15-10 and won the match.

Next weekend South Carolina travels to Alabama to face the Crimson Tide on Friday night. USC then takes on the Tigers of Auburn Sunday afternoon in Auburn. The Gamecocks next return home on October 25 to host the Georgia Bulldogs at 7:00 p.m.