Nov. 10, 2006
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina volleyball team played its school-record tying ninth five-game match of the year Friday night in Columbia, S.C., and registered a 3-2 (30-27, 20-30, 30-25, 29-31, 15-12) victory over the Kentucky Wildcats. The Gamecocks upped their record to 13-15 overall and 6-11 in the SEC while snapping a five-match losing streak to UK, which dropped to 16-9 and 9-8 in the league.
USC freshman Meredith Moorhead tallied a career-high 15 kills and made just two errors on 25 attempts for a stellar .520 hitting percentage. Shonda Cole led all attackers with 21 kills while adding 14 digs for her eighth double-double of the season. Marija Milosevic reached double digits in kills as well with 10. Alexis Thomson had 45 assists, six digs, six kills and three blocks. Dinelia Concepcion led Carolina’s defense with 17 digs to tie her personal best for the year.
Three Wildcats reached double figures in kills with Queen Nzenwa leading the way with 16. Ashlee Fisher had 13, but made 14 hitting errors, and Nicole Britenriker recorded 10 kills. Setter Sarah Rumely totaled 46 assists, 15 digs and fell two kills shy of a triple-double. Jenni Casper dug 14 balls and Julie Gagnon had 10.
South Carolina out-hit Kentucky .204 (65-31-167) to .147 (62-37-170) and held a 60-56 advantage on digs. The Gamecocks also had 10 blocks to the Wildcats’ six.
The Gamecocks raced out to a 10-4 lead in game one following consecutive service aces by Cole, who finished the night with four. Kentucky slowly crept back into the match and took an 18-17 lead when Britenriker ripped a kill. USC responded by going on a 9-1 run to snatch a 26-19 advantage before closing out the frame by a three-point margin.
USC seemed poised to run away with the second game, as it took a 5-0 lead behind the serving of Concepcion. The Wildcats came back and eventually knotted the score up at 10-all. The Gamecocks proceeded to go on another 5-0 spurt, but the remainder of the stanza belonged to UK. Kentucky outscored South Carolina 20-5 and held USC to just seven kills.
With the score tied 16-16 in game three, Crystal Johnson took the serve for South Carolina and helped lead her team to seven consecutive points. Milosevic had two kills during the stretch and the Wildcats made three hitting mistakes. The seven-point margin was too much for Kentucky to overcome, as it never closed to within more than three.
South Carolina and Kentucky battled to a 23-23 stalemate in the fourth game. Cole then served the Gamecocks to four straight points, and USC later had four match points up 29-25. After a service error by Moorhead and two hitting miscues by the Gamecocks, the Wildcats received three consecutive kills from Melissa Popp to force a fifth game.
Carolina quickly fell behind 5-1 in the decisive game, but the Gamecocks regrouped with a 5-1 run of their own in which Cole tallied three kills to tie the score at 6-all. USC had an 11-9 advantage when Kentucky made two costly mistakes with Britenriker serving a ball into the net and Fisher rifling an attack wide. UK did managed to win the next three points and slash South Carolina’s lead to 13-12, but Cole blasted a shot for her final kill of the match on the ensuing rally. Johnson and Thomson teamed up for a block on the right side against Fisher to give the Gamecocks the victory.
South Carolina returns to the hardwood Sunday when it hosts Tennessee at 2 p.m. Comcast/Charter Sports SouthEast (CSS) will air the match live.