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Aug. 29, 2003

Los Angeles, Calif. – Despite getting swept 3-0 in the season opener by No. 8 Northern Iowa, South Carolina volleyball has a lot to look forward to this season. The Gamecocks lost 30-24, 30-19, 30-25 against the Panthers but head coach Kim Hudson Christopher saw several positive things out of the young team.

“There were parts of the match that we were very competitive and I was very pleased with that. This was such great experience to play that caliber of volleyball,” said Hudson Christopher. “We had some breakdowns and with their experience they were able to capitalize on that.”

Sophomore Sarah Morgan led the team in kills with nine, followed by Niece Curry and freshman Shonda Cole with eight apiece. Curry and sophomore transfer Lauren Ford led the team with three blocks each. Freshman setter Katelyn Panzau recorded 36 assists and six digs in her first outing.

“I thought Katelyn did a great job running this team since it was her first time out,” said Hudson Christopher. “I am really excited at what this team is capable of doing.”

The Gamecocks were not intimidated by the Panthers as they held their own in game one despite losing 24-30. Carolina outhit NIU .282 to .256 as they recorded 16 kills and five errors in 39 attempts. Carolina posted five total team blocks to NIU’s one. Ford had two block assists and a block solo while Cole registered her first collegiate solo. Morgan led Carolina in kills with five followed by Curry and Cole, each with four. With those four kills, Cole led game one in hitting percentage with .667. A block by Ford tied the game for Carolina 22-22, but NIU eventually pulled away and held the Gamecocks to just two more points and took a 1-0 lead in the match.

In game two, the Panthers outblocked the Gamecocks 4-1 and held Carolina to just .000 hitting percentage with nine kills and nine errors. Carolina could not find its groove in game two and with 17 kills, NIU hit .281 to take the game 30-19 and a 2-0 lead in the match.

Carolina led most of game three and forced the Panthers to come from behind twice in order to take game three. Carolina led by as much as six in the game before the Panthers tied the game 17-17. The Gamecocks reclaimed the lead and held on 22-19 before NIU came back and tied it 22-22 on a kill by Steph Germann. An error by Cole gave NIU the 23-22 lead and the Panthers built on that to take game three 30-25.

This marks the first season opener loss for Carolina under Hudson Christopher but it is also the first time the Gamecocks have opened against a ranked team.

Carolina will conclude the tournament on Saturday when they face No. 1 Southern California at 3 p.m. (ET) and Ball State at 8 p.m. (ET). The match against Southern California can be heard on internet broadcast on