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Nov. 11, 2007

Final Stats

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Junior middle blocker Belita Salters matched her career high with 20 kills, but that was not enough to turn away Tennessee, as the Lady Vols defeated the Gamecocks in five games, 30-28, 30-17, 27-30, 33-35, 15-11, on Sunday afternoon at the Stokely Athletic Center. Tennessee moves to 10-16 on the season, 5-13 in Southeastern Conference play, while Carolina drops to 12-15, 5-13 in league action.

Freshman Megan Laughlin also matched a career high with 17 kills. Sophomore Meredith Moorhead tallied 15 kills, while sophomore Ivana Kujundzic compiled her 12th double-double of the season with 14 kills and 16 digs. Setters Petra Lorenzi and Jordan Bradosky also tallied double-doubles , as Lorenzi had a season-best 50 assists and 14 digs and Bradosky had 20 assists and 14 digs. Sophomore libero Sarah Cline had 26 digs in the match. Laughlin and Salters led the squad with five blocks each.

Nikki Fowler led all players with 28 kills and added 13 digs. Leah Hinkey and Farren Powe contributed 14 kills each. Hinkey also had a career-high 14 blocks. Jena Berg had a double-double with 62 assists and 12 digs. Libero Chloe Goldman had 31 digs, while Kylie Marshall added 24. Jaye Loyd also had 10 digs.

The Gamecocks came back from an early 3-1 deficit to take an 11-9 advantage after getting five out of six points in one stretch. Salters had two kills, while Moorhead added one to go with a block from the duo in the run. Tennessee answered with a similar skein to take a 14-12 lead, getting a kill and block from Hinkey in there. Carolina came back to get a 25-22 advantage after three consecutive kills from freshman Dani Bedore. After the squads traded side outs, the Lady Vols went on a five-point run to get the lead they needed. Three straight Gamecock errors started the stretch that was continued by a kill from Marshall and an ace from Loyd. Fowler closed out the frame with two of her five kills in the game. Carolina had 20 kills in the frame but also had 10 hitting errors, five coming on Tennessee blocks.

In game two, Carolina got a 5-2 lead thanks in part to three Lady Vol errors. The Big Orange came back to take an 8-6 advantage, getting two kills and a block from Yuliya Stoyanova. After the Gamecocks tied it up at 10-10, Tennessee went back up 13-10 after back-to-back kills from Fowler. That lead grew to 18-12 before the Garnet and Black closed to within three at 19-16 behind a pair of Bedore kills and a Moorhead smash. But that would be as close as the Gamecocks got, as Tennessee ran off nine straight points, the first four coming on USC errors. Laughlin stopped the run with a kill, but the Lady Vols ended the frame with kills from Powe and Fowler. Fowler had eight kills, while Tennessee had a .364 hitting percentage in the game.

The Gamecocks got an 8-4 lead in game three, getting two kills each from Laughlin and Kujundzic and a block from the duo. Two kills also came on overpasses by the Lady Vols. Tennessee got within one at 16-15 after a block from Berg and Powe. But Carolina went back up by four after a three-point run, led by kills from Laughlin and Bradosky. Tennessee would get within one at 28-27 after a Stoyanova and Powe block and a Fowler kill, but South Carolina closed out the game behind Salters’ 10th kill and a block from Salters and freshman Erin Kennedy. Laughlin had seven kills in the frame.

Game four started much like the previous two, with the Gamecocks getting out to a 5-3 lead. However, things went south from there, as the Lady Vols got nine consecutive points, getting two blocks and two kills from Hinkey in the stretch. Marshall also had an ace and a back-row kill in the skein. Carolina chipped away at the lead, bringing it to 20-18 after a Laughlin kill and a block by Laughlin and freshman Lisa Shelley. The advantage shrank to one after a Salters spike and a handling error by the Lady Vols. After Tennessee stretched it back out to three, 27-24, South Carolina made it one again after a UT service error and a Laughlin kill. Shelley tied up the match, 28-28, with her first career kill. A Laughlin ace put Carolina at game point, but Fowler kept UT alive with a kill. A USC hitting error put the Lady Vols on the brink of the match win. But Salters drilled one to tie the match back up at 30-30. The drama kept building with long rallies, but with the teams trading side outs. Carolina got its first game-point opportunity at 33-32 following a block from Laughlin and Kujundzic. A Gamecock hitting error continued the match, but the Lady Vols gave the advantage back on a blocking error. After another long rally, Moorhead stepped up and hit a ball cross court that Tennessee couldn’t handle, giving the Gamecocks the 35-33 victory. Salters had eight kills and hit .700 in the frame to lead USC.

In the deciding game, Tennessee got a 7-4 lead on a Hinkey kill on an overpass and a block from Hinkey and Marshall. The advantage grew to 9-5 after another Hinkey smash and a block from Hiinkey and Berg. After kills from Hinkey and Powe put UT on top, 12-6, Gamecock head coach Ben Somera called a timeout to try to stop the Lady Vols’ momentum. The move worked, as the Gamecocks got four of the next five points to bring it within three at 13-10. But a service error would push the Lady Vols back to match point. Salters extended it with her kill, but Fowler hit a smash down the line to clinch the victory for Tennessee.

Carolina had an advantage in kills, digs and assists, while Tennessee had more blocks and an advantage in hitting percentage.

South Carolina closes out the 2007 season with home matches against Mississippi State and Alabama next weekend. The Bulldogs are in for a Friday night contest, set for a 7 p.m. start at the Volleyball Competition Facility.