Nov. 2, 2008
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Behind redshirt senior Belita Salters’ 17 kills, the Gamecocks prevailed over the Ole Miss Rebels in four sets, 22-25, 25-19, 30-28, 25-19, on Sunday afternoon in Southeastern Conference action at the Volleyball Competition Facility.
South Carolina (18-6, 9-5 SEC) got double-doubles from juniors Ivana Kujundzic and Bridget Denson-Dorman as well. Kujundzic had 14 kills and 15 digs, while Denson-Dorman added 11 digs to her match-high 50 assists. Sophomore Megan Laughlin contributed 11 kills and a match-best five blocks. Junior libero Sarah Cline made 20 digs, while senior Petra Lorenzi added 12. Salters’ .467 hitting percentage just edged out Meredith Moorhead’s .400 clip (9-1-20) for top honors in that category. For Ole Miss (10-12, 6-7 SEC), Katie Norris had 19 kills to lead the team. Emily Jones had 18 digs, while Rachel Kieckhaefer and Morgan Springer both made 11. Kieckhaefer also had 36 assists.
The Gamecocks and Rebels battled throughout the first set, with neither team getting more than a three-point advantage. After going down, 20-18, South Carolina responded with a three-point string to take a one-point advantage. The teams swapped side outs, putting the Gamecocks up, 22-21, before back-to-back kills by Miranda Kitts swung the momentum and the lead back to the Rebels. Ole Miss captured the final two points on blocks by Kitts and Kieckhaefer to take the frame, 25-22. Kitts collected four kills and three blocks in the first set.
South Carolina dominated the second set, running out to a 10-3 lead early on two aces by Lorenzi and three kills by Salters. Mississippi got as close as 12-8 before the Gamecocks stretched the advantage to 17-9 behind two Hannah Lawing kills. Denson-Dorman wrapped it up at 25-19 with a kill. Lorenzi had six digs in the second alone, while Cline had five. The Gamecocks hit .500 in the frame, led by Salters’ six kills on seven attempts.
The third set started much like the second for the Garnet and Black, taking an 8-3 lead behind one solo and one assisted block by Laughlin. This time the Rebels responded, coming back to tie up the match at 9-9 behind two Kitts aces. South Carolina finally got the advantage back at 18-15 on a three-point run that included a Laughlin kill. Ole Miss came right back with a four-point string to take a 19-18 lead, getting back-to-back kills from Norris to start the run. The Gamecocks came back to take the 22-20 lead thanks to consecutive Kujundzic kills. After a three-point Rebel run made it 23-22, Carolina got back-to-back kills by Moorhead to get to set point first. The Red and Blue fought back again, taking away the advantage after a Gamecock service error and a service ace by Emily Kvitle. But Laughlin would tie the match up again at 25-25 with her kill. The squads traded side outs until Denson-Dorman made a successful dump after setting up a Salters kill to take the advantage back for South Carolina at 27-26. The teams swapped points twice more before Salters knocked down another kill at 29-28. Cline clinched the third set with an ace, giving the Gamecocks a 30-28 win in the longest set played by Carolina this season. Salters’ five and Moorhead’s four kills trumped the seven put away by Ole Miss’ Norris. Kujundzic and Denson-Dorman both had six digs for the Gamecocks.
In the fourth, the Rebels got the first advantage at 11-8 on a four-point run than included a Caitlin Keefe block, a Caitlin Weiss kill and a Springer ace. South Carolina came back immediately with its own five-point streak to take a 13-11 lead. Salters had two kills along with a block by the redshirt senior and Denson-Dorman to help turn the tide. Later, with the Gamecocks up, 17-16, the squad posted a six-point skein to take a 23-16 advantage. Kujundzic had two service aces during that run. Norris got two more kills ahead of a Kieckhaefer ace to bring Ole Miss within four at 23-19, but the Gamecocks’ Laughlin got a kill out of the timeout to put the squad to match point. Lawing ended it there with her smash to give South Carolina the 25-19 set four win. Cline had six digs in the final set, while Denson-Dorman, Laughlin and Salters all added two block assists.
South Carolina had advantages in kills, hitting percentage, assists and digs, while Mississippi end the match with more aces and blocks than the Gamecocks. The Gamecock victory stops the Rebels’ four-match winning streak in the series.
South Carolina closes its three-match home stand on Friday evening against Auburn at 7 p.m. in the Volleyball Competition Facility.