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Sept. 19, 2004

Columbia, S.C. –
South Carolina (7-2) volleyball claimed their first tournament win of the season as they defeated the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-4) 3-1 in the final round of the Gamecock Invitational Sunday. USC won 30-28, 25-30, 30-22, 30-23 to extend its win streak to four matches, its longest since 2002. Junior Lauren Ford was named tournament MVP while junior Sarah Morgan and sophomore Shonda Cole were named to the all-tournament team. For Notre Dame, Ashley Tarutis and Lauren Brewster were named to the all-tournament team.

“This was a great weekend for us. I am very happy with how low our attacking errors were because that means we are handling the ball better and taking care of our mistakes,” said head coach Kim Hudson. “We played some good teams in Michigan State and Notre Dame and to come out with two wins is a good accomplishment.”

The Gamecocks were down 13-5 in game one before going on a 12-3 run to gain their first lead of the match. Up 27-26, Cole recorded a service error to give ND a point to tie but the Irish had an attack error and block assists by Ford and Lynae Vanden Hull put USC up by two, 29-27. The Gamecocks failed to get game point on that try but on the next play, Vanden Hull came down with a kill to give Carolina an exciting 30-28 win.

Notre Dame came back in game two and evened the match 1-1 as the Irish recorded 21 kills and hit .409 to beat USC 30-25. That would be the only game win as the Gamecocks came back in the second half to win 30-22 and 30-23.

In game three, USC was up by one 18-17 before winning the next seven points to build an eight point lead. The Irish finally scored on a kill by Ellem Heintzman but it wasn’t enough as the Gamecocks held ND to just four more points in the game and took a 2-1 lead in the match. At 28-22, Nicole Miller connected on a kill and Katelyn Panzau followed with a service ace to put the game in the books for Carolina.

Carolina controlled most of game four and led by as much as nine. The Irish got to within three points at the 25-22 mark but an error and back-to-back kills by Cole pulled the Gamecocks out to a 27-22 lead. Adrianna Stasiuk recorded Notre Dame’s final point of the match with hopes of forcing a game five after a kill, but a service error by Stasiuk made the score 28-23, USC. A service ace by Cole and block assists by Morgan and Miller clinched the game 30-12 and the tournament title for the Gamecocks.

Defensively, USC recorded 14 total team blocks to Notre Dame’s six and 56 digs to the Irish’s 53. Carolina recorded three block solos, including two from Ford. Ford hit a career high .500 and had 12 kills, two errors and seven blocks. USC out-hit their tournament opponents .311 to .159 and out-blocked them 27-12.

For the weekend, Ford recorded 23 kills and let the team with a .452 average. Cole led the team in kills with 36 and averaged 4.00 kills per game. Morgan also recorded 23 kills and led the team with 23 digs.

Carolina returns to action on Friday, Sept. 24 when they open SEC play and host Mississippi State at 7 p.m. at the Volleyball Competition Facility.

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