Nov. 27, 2004
Columbia, S.C. – South Carolina volleyball closed out the 2004 season with a loss as the Gamecocks fell 3-1 to the North Carolina Tar Heels Saturday afternoon. Game scores were close in the early rounds as USC lost 31-29, 33-35, 30-21, 30-15. Sophomore outside hitter Shonda Cole recorded a career high 24 kills, while junior Sarah Morgan registered a season high 18 digs. USC finishes the season 12-15 overall and 5-11 in the SEC.
“First of all I would like to thank those who have supported us throughout the season. It has been a tough year and I appreciate everyone’s support,” said head coach Kim Hudson. “As for the match, it probably sums up our year in that we had some bright spots but we continued to have trouble putting it all together at once.”
The Gamecocks were down 15-9 in game one before rallying back to tie the score 24-24 on a kill by Cole and an attack error by UNC. After a service error put the Tar Heels back up, UNC then collected four kills by Molly Pyles, who recorded 22 kills, to go up 29-27. The Gamecocks then held UNC as Cole put down back-to-back kills to tie it 29-29. After a timeout by UNC, Cole then hit an attack error and Jayme Mitchell recorded a service ace to win 31-29.
Game two proved to be an even closer battle as the Gamecocks led by four at one point early in the game. But that would be the biggest lead USC would see as the score stayed within three points for the remainder of the game. An attack error by Nicole Miller put UNC ahead 29-28, giving the Tar Heels within game point, but a kill by Morgan then tied it for USC, 29-29. From there, the score would be tied four more times. After a service error by USC put UNC up 33-32, the Gamecocks were able to then capitalize on three straight attack errors by the Tar Heels and clinched their first game win since Nov. 7 against Arkansas by a score of 35-33.
The 35 points USC collected in game two was the second time this season. Carolina also recorded 35 points in the game one win over Mississippi State in Starkville back on Oct. 10.
After the break, North Carolina came out in a different form and was able to control the match more. In game three, USC recorded seven straight attack errors to put the Tar Heels up 9-2. UNC hit .293 and had 19 kills while the Gamecocks hit .125 and had 11 kills. The closest USC would come again to the Tar Heels was two points at the 19-17 mark in the game. From there UNC went on an 11-4 run to claim a 2-1 lead in the match and won game three 30-21.
The Gamecocks hit their worst in game four as they posted only nine kills and had eight errors to hit .025, the lowest of the match. USC was down 5-6 in the game before the Tar Heels went on a 10-0 run to establish a 16-5 lead. The Gamecocks could not find their rhythm and eventually fell to UNC 30-15 for the game and 3-1 for the match.
The loss marked the fourth straight for the Gamecocks and the second season in a row end below .500. Despite the loss, USC was able to produce some notable achievements.
In addition to Cole’s career high in kills, the Kings Mountain, N.C. native also recorded her 23rd double-figure kills match of the year (23 of 27) and posted her fourth double-double of the year with her 14 digs, also a career high. With Morgan’s 10 kills and 18 digs, she recorded her fifth double-double of the season.
Cole finished the season with 379 kills, the most for a Gamecock player since Heather Larkin back in 1997 with 380. For her career, Cole now has 658 kills.
Lauren Ford had four block assists for the day, which gave her a final total of 107 for the year. This marks the most block assists since Cindy Robarge in 1998. Ford also recorded 118 total blocks for the season, the most in a single year since Danika Taylor in 1998 with 124.