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Aug. 30, 2008

Box Score

TEMPE, Ariz. – Redshirt senior middle blocker Belita Salters set new career bests with 21 kills and a .543 hitting percentage as South Carolina won its final match in the ASU Sheraton Classic against UNLV, 3-2, on Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena. The win moved the Gamecocks to 2-1 on the young season, while the Rebels fall to 1-2.

Salters’ hitting percentage is the third-best output all-time in a five-set match for Carolina, while her 21 kills set a career best. Salters also added six blocks. Junior outside hitter Ivana Kujundzic collected a double-double with 13 kills and 12 digs, while sophomore middle blocker Megan Laughlin nearly had her first career double-double with 13 kills and nine digs. Sophomore outside hitter Annie Thomas tallied 10 kills, while junior setter Bridget Denson-Dorman got her second-consecutive double-double with 52 assists and 12 digs. Senior libero Dinelia Concepcion had 12 digs in three games. For the Rebels, Erin Greenwood led the way with 20 kills, while Jessica Walters had 16. Libero Camille Cunningham had 24 digs and a match-best four aces.

Three early Gamecock errors in the first set gave UNLV a 5-1 lead, but Salters and Laughlin and junior outside hitter Meredith Moorhead had consecutive kills to force the Rebels to call a timeout at 5-4. A Moorhead solo block knotted up the frame at 5-5. Back-to-back aces by Cunningham helped UNLV take a 15-12 lead. South Carolina tied it up at 18-18 after Laughlin perfectly placed a shot across the net and the Rebels made a hitting error. The Gamecocks got ahead again at 20-19, but the Rebels got the next six points to capture the set, 25-20. Cunningham had seven digs, while Greenwood tallied six kills in 10 attempts to lead UNLV to the win.

Salters led the way in the early part of the second set, getting four of South Carolina’s five kills that helped the squad take a 7-4 advantage. A Laughlin kill, block with Denson-Dorman and ace put the Gamecocks up, 12-7. A pair of Thomas kills around a Concepcion ace led to a 17-11 Garnet advantage. A block and two kills by Greenwood plus a kill by Monika Karney nearly tied up the frame, but Laughlin stopped the five-point run with a kill to put the Gamecocks back up by two. A block by Laughlin and Thomas and a Thomas kill gave Carolina a 20-16 lead and forced UNLV to use its final timeout of the frame. That did not change the momentum, as a Rebel error and a Laughlin smash made it 22-16. Samantha Richard brought UNLV back to within four, but a Denson-Dorman dump, a Lawing ace and a UNLV hitting error wrapped up the set, 25-18. South Carolina hit .382 (15-2-34) in the frame, led by Salters’ 4-for-4 and Thomas’ 5-for-8.

A kill by Walters and an ace by Cunningham put the Rebels on top, 12-9, in the third set. UNLV didn’t let up, getting the lead up to 17-11 after a block by Samantha Noland and Gerryn Moran. Walters wrapped up the set at 25-16 by spiking an overpass. Walters had six kills to top the Rebels, while Noland hit .833 (5-0-6) in the frame.

South Carolina came out looking inspired in the fourth set, running out to a 6-2 lead thanks in part to a pair of blocks by Salters and Moorhead. After the Rebels came back to within two, the Garnet stretched the lead to 19-14 behind kills by Laughlin and Kujundzic and an ace by Hannah Lawing. UNLV responded with three consecutive points to draw within two after a pair of kills by Greenwood. The Gamecocks retook control, going up 24-19 after three Salters kills and a block with Denson-Dorman. Salters wrapped up the frame with her fifth kill, leading South Carolina to a 25-20 win. The redshirt senior also had three blocks in the fourth.

Before the Rebels realized it, it was 6-1 in the fifth for South Carolina, with Kujundzic and Salters both getting a pair of kills in the early going. But after a UNLV timeout, the Rebels ran off three straight points, causing Carolina to halt play. Back-to-back kills by Thomas and Moorhead put the Gamecocks back up by four, 8-4. UNLV used its final timeout after the Gamecock lead grew to 11-6. A block by Moorhead and Salters put the Garnet at match point, where Kujundzic put it away with a shot down the line. Kujundzic had four kills to lead the victors.

South Carolina’s 15-8, fifth-set victory puts the team in position to possibly win the ASU Sheraton Classic, pending the outcome of Dayton-Arizona State contest.

The Gamecocks head north next weekend to take part in the Ram Classic Invitational at the University of Rhode Island next Fri.-Sat., Sept. 5-6.