Nov. 21, 2008
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Behind solid efforts from all seven starters that led to a .355 team hitting percentage, South Carolina swept past Alabama, 25-14, 33-31, 25-21, on Friday evening in the Volleyball Competition Facility.
Junior outside hitter Ivana Kujundzic had a team-best 18.5 points on 16 kills, three blocks and one ace, while also leading the Gamecocks (20-8, 11-7 SEC) with a .433 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Hannah Lawing added 12 kills, two aces and a solo block, while redshirt senior middle blocker Belita Salters added 10 kills and a .412 hitting percentage. Sophomore middle blocker Megan Laughlin contributed nine kills, an ace and three block assists. Junior libero Sarah Cline had a match-best 18 digs, while senior Petra Lorenzi added 11. Junior setter Bridget Denson-Dorman made 39 assists and a season-best six kills. Brooks Webster had a match-high 17 kills to go with nine digs lead the Tide (15-12, 8-10 SEC). Libero Amy Pauly had 11 digs.
The Gamecocks dominated the first set of play, hitting .435 in the 25-14 win. South Carolina ran out to a 9-2 lead and never let the Tide any closer than six the rest of the way. Lawing had five kills on seven swings in the first frame alone. The Crimson Tide did not help their own cause, making eight attack errors to ring up a -.077 hitting percentage in the first.
The second set was much closer after Alabama rebounded from an early 7-3 deficit. A four-point run tied up the match at 7-7, and more than two points never separated the two teams until late. An Alabama service error and a Kujundzic ace pushed the Gamecocks advantage to 23-20, but the Gamecocks gave the points right back on a service error and an Ashley Frazier ace to bring the Crimson Tide back to within one, causing the Gamecocks to use their first timeout. A Webster kill followed by a Buteyn smash gave Alabama the first opportunity to win the set, but South Carolina head coach Ben Somera used his final timeout to try to stop the momentum. It worked, as Lawing’s cross-court shot found the floor to tie things up at 24-24. Alabama would get two more shots at set point, first after a Webster kill and later after a South Carolina hitting error. But a service error and a Salters kill dashed the Crimson Tide’s hopes. The Gamecocks would then get five tries at set point before coming through, as Lawing rejected a shot to end the frame at 33-31 in favor of the Garnet and Black. Both teams hit extremely well in the frame, with South Carolina just edging past Alabama, .373 to .362.
In the third frame, South Carolina used a three-point run to take an 11-7 advantage. Kujundzic and Denson-Dorman both had kills in the stretch. Alabama came right back with three points of their own, but a service error kept the Tide from tying up the set. South Carolina stayed one step ahead until a Webster kill and a Gamecock attack error knotted up the frame at 19-19. After trading side outs, the Gamecocks pulled it together, getting kills from Kujundzic and Denson-Dorman in a four-point stretch to get to set point. A Carolina service error extended the match a point, but Alabama gave it right back with a service error of its own to end the final frame, 25-21. Kujundzic had six kills, while Cline had six digs and Lorenzi five for the Gamecocks in the final set.
South Carolina held advantages in hitting percentage, assists, kills and digs, while the Crimson Tide had more aces and blocks than the Gamecocks. With the win, South Carolina earned its first season sweep over Alabama since 2002.
The Gamecocks wrap up the weekend with a 1:30 p.m. match against Mississippi State on Sunday. The squad will honor its three seniors prior to the match at the Volleyball Competition Facility.