Skip to main content
Partner logo
Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Mobile Icon Link Gamecocks+

Nov. 5, 2009

Notes Package in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

Coach Somera

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina returns home after a tough road trip that saw the Gamecocks suffer two losses to face Auburn and Georgia with thoughts of bouncing back. The Gamecocks host Auburn on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Volleyball Competition Facility, where fans can pick up free drawstring backpacks while supplies last. The Bulldogs come to town for a Sunday matinee. First serve for Military and Veterans Appreciation Day against Georgia is set for 1:30 p.m.

Auburn ranks fifth overall in the SEC and second in the Western Division with a 14-10 overall record and 6-7 league mark. Georgia brings a matching 14-10 overall mark into the weekend, while it stands at 5-8 in league outings.

Defensive Minded
South Carolina has been outstanding defensively as a team, ranking 32nd in the country in digs in Monday’s report. The squad claimed a 23-dig advantage in the win over Clemson, the largest margin of the season, while the team has won the digs battle 14 times in 2009. When winning the digs battle, the Gamecocks are 11-6. Last season, the Gamecocks finished second in the league in digs per set, leaping up from fifth in 2007.

Experience Back, Experience Packed
South Carolina returns five starters and its starting libero from the 2008 squad that finished with 21 wins, the first 20+ win season from a Gamecock club since 2002. While good, it is not far and above the best in the Southeastern Conference. While every SEC team lost at least one starter, there are five others that match the Gamecocks with five coming back. In fact, only one team, Mississippi, lists losing more than two starters.

What We Lost
Overall, from the four letterwinners who did not return, the Gamecocks lost 30.3 percent of their kills, 31.6 percent of their total blocks and 21.9 percent of their digs. Nearly 70 percent of the kills and blocks are back, leading one to think that would be a lot. But that’s nothing compared to the 2008 squad, which returned 86 percent of its kills and 74 percent of its blocks, not to mention 94 percent in both assists and digs and 85 percent of its aces from the 2007 edition.

SEC East Holds Home Court Advantage
While playing on the road is always tough, it gets even rougher when traveling to an SEC Eastern Division team’s gym. In the league last year, the home team went 62-48 overall (.563), while in 2007 the home team won 64 percent of its matches in league play. But in the East, the home team won 80 percent of its matches (40-10), compared to the West’s 22-38 (.367) mark. South Carolina was right in the line with its East cohorts, going 8-2 at the Volleyball Competition Facility in 2008. They are 2-5 at the facility in 2009 during SEC play, with four of the losses coming against the top tier of the league.

The Gamecocks nearly broke a six-year road losing streak in league play, going 4-6 last year. But that was a considerable improvement over 2003-07, when South Carolina won just nine road matches in 43 tries. The Garnet and Black are 2-5 on the road in league action this fall.

Cline Looking For Her Place In History
Senior libero Sarah Cline has become the vocal leader on the court for the Gamecocks the past two years while also leading the team in digs. A two-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III selection by CoSIDA, the senior will attempt to become the first three-time honoree from CoSIDA in program history while also helping the squad improve on its second-place ranking in 2008’s final SEC defensive statistical rankings.

The Rock Hill, S.C., product made the all-tournament team in each of the pre-conference season events, capturing the Gamecock Invitational’s most outstanding libero award as well. She’s recorded double-digit digs in every contest, leading South Carolina in the category 17 times while adding six 20+ dig matches. She jumped from 11th to second on the career digs chart, passing three people in the first match of the year. She needs 92 digs to tie Diane Denton for the program record. She’s 125 digs from tying for 10th on the SEC career list. Cline has already broken the rally-scoring era digs mark with 404 this seaosn, and she’s 121 scoops from tying the all-time single-season mark of Denton’s.

Kujundzic Continuing International Successes At South Carolina
International student-athletes have often found success at South Carolina, and Ivana Kujundzic continues that tradition. The Subotica, Serbia, native, who was the squad’s only Preseason All-SEC selection, has led the Gamecocks in kills per set for two years running, joining Canadian Lori Rowe (1983-86) as the only non-American to top the squad in consecutive seasons. Kujundzic held the longest consecutive-sets played streak among current players until an injury dropped her out of the lineup to start the third set against No. 23 Wichita State, ending the string at 233 sets. Kujundzic has continued a stretch of 14 years for Carolina to have at least one international student-athlete on the roster.

The senior outside hitter is the 11th Gamecock to record 1,000 career kills, entering the top 10 during the Missisippi match on Oct. 23. She ranks seventh in kills (1,118), ninth in career kills per set (2.92) and fifth in attacks (2,984).

The Awards Season Has Started, And Cline Is First Rewarded
While there’s still four weeks left in the season, awards have already started coming out. Senior Sarah Cline became the first three-time ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III honoree, picking up first-team accolades for the second straight year. That goes with her SEC Defensive Player of the Week certificate she took home in week three of the year. Classmate Ivana Kujundzic brought home the first award of the year when she garnered SEC Offensive Player of the Week status after the first weekend of play in the Big Orange Bash. The Academic All-America group of 2009 will be announced by CoSIDA on Nov. 23, while the SEC’s yearly awards will come out the next week.

Gamecock Offense Survived Stretch Without Kujundzic
South Carolina holds a 12-9 record on the season, but they went just 3-3 while preseason All-SEC attacker Ivana Kujundzic was held out with an ankle injury. Offensively, the Gamecocks did not miss much without the senior, hitting percentage-wise just under their mark with her while actually getting more kills per set. The problem was defense. The Gamecocks’ digs fell by over one per frame (17.57-16.41), and the blocking slipped by nearly a half-block a set (1.57-1.09). With those numbers going down, South Carolina’s foes piled up a better kills-per-set mark (11.25-13.05) and hitting percentage (.145-.228). Kujundzic returned to the court in the home weekend against Tennessee and No. 15 Kentucky.

South Carolina In The National Stats
The Garnet and Black hangs its hat on its defense and for good reason. The squad stands 32nd in digs in the NCAA’s weekly statistical rankings that come out Monday afternoons. The team also is in the top 60 in two offensive categories: kills and assists. Individually, Ivana Kujundzic is among the nation’s top 40 in kills and points per set. The full list is in the PDF version of the notes.

Lawing Breaks Out In Houston
After spending two years filling in as an attacker when injuries arose, Hannah Lawing has staked out a starting job as an outside hitter. During the first half of last season, she played exclusively on the back row before taking the job with her all-around play. She improved her kills average from 0.27 in the back to 2.30 while playing full rotations, finishing the year with a 1.30 mark. Her hitting percentage jumped from .049 as a freshman to .138 as a sophomore, including a .175 mark during the final 15 matches of 2008 when pressed into full-court duty.

The junior set a program high for the 25-point scoring era, posting 28 kills in the win over Harvard. That’s the most for a Gamecock since Shonda Cole’s 29 in her final collegiate match on Nov. 22, 2006. Those 28 kills are also the most for any player in the SEC this season.

Lawing has tallied double-doubles in 12 matches this season, including during each match of the Big Orange Bash and the Mizuno Invitational II. She now has 20 career double-doubles. She missed three of the last four matches with a lower leg injury, but she returned with a double-double at Alabama.

Legacy Fulfilled With Addition Of Glover
Four new players grace the 2009 roster for South Carolina volleyball, with one of those following in the footsteps of her mother. Christina Glover, the 2007 and 2008 South Carolina 4A State Player of the Year, is the daughter of Alexis Homer Glover, who played during the AIAW days of the program (lettering in 1978-80). With the spotty records prior to 1985, no one is sure if Christina is the first “legacy” player in Gamecock history. If there are any alumnae who have had their daughter come through the program, they are urged to contact Koby Padgett at or via the phone number listed on page two of these notes.

Glover played the majority of the time in Ivana Kujundzic’s absence and had her best match against Alabama. Against the Crimson Tide, Glover hit .381 while recording 10 kills, her best in her short career. She started again for Hannah Lawing in the Mississippi win. The Gamecocks are 2-0 when Glover starts.

Gamecocks Claim South Carolina State Title Again
The Gamecocks won the “Palmetto State” title for the second-consecutive year, defeating Clemson, College of Charleston and Winthrop in the 19th-annual Big Orange Bash. And already this season, South Carolina added a sweep of former system school Coastal Carolina, stretching the in-state win streak to eight matches. Last season, the Gamecocks went 4-0 against in-state schools, adding South Carolina State to the Big Orange Bash list from above. The Garnet and Black look to make it nine when it returns last year’s match against the SCSU Bulldogs in November.

South Carolina In The SEC Stats
A couple of the Gamecocks stand out in the Southeastern Conference statistical rankings. Monday’s update shows the Garnet and Black leading the SEC in digs per set at 16.64. The squad also ranks fourth in kills and assists per set. Senior Sarah Cline ranks second in the SEC with her 4.59 digs per set, while classmate Ivana Kujundzic is also second in kills per set (4.12).

Is It That Simple? It Was Last Year
In 2008, the Gamecocks had a simple formula for winning: have a higher hitting percentage than their foe. The Garnet and Black went 21-0 when it out-hit the opposition. The Gamecocks’ worst performance in a win was at Arkansas, when the squad hit .182. Carolina also went 19-0 when it had fewer hitting errors and 18-1 when it had more assists and more kills than the other side.

The Gamecocks have won the hitting battle 12 times this season, losing just one of those matches. That one came against Alabama.

Scouting Auburn
Auburn is in the middle of the road in each of the league’s stat categories overall, with their hitting efficiency leading the way at fourth (.234). If there is a weakness, it’s in front-row defense, as the Tigers stand ninth in blocks at 1.88.

The Tigers run a very balanced offense, with four players averaging over two kills a set. Kelly Fidero, who recorded a career high in kills in the earlier meeting, leads Auburn at 2.56 kills, while Sarah Bullock is just behind her at 2.52. The two-setter system Auburn runs is very balanced, as Christina Solverson and Sara Shanks both check in with over five assists per set. Liz Crouch leads the backline defense, scooping 4.04 attack attempts per set. Lauren Mellor tops the front line with 0.89 blocks a frame.

Series History vs. The Tigers
The Gamecocks hold an 19-8 advantage in the series against Auburn. But the Tigers snapped a three-match Gamecock winning streak with a four-set win on Sunday, Oct. 18. South Carolina has done better at Auburn (10-3) than at home (8-5) in the series.

Scouting Georgia
Georgia enters the weekend a game ahead of South Carolina in the SEC East. The Bulldogs have relied on a strong block (2.24/3rd) and a big service (1.44/1st) game, though they have dropped to fifth (2.25 bps) and fourth (1.17 aps), respectively, in SEC play. Georgia has improved its digs ranking in conference play, moving from last (13.41) overall to seventh (14.70) in league outings.

Erika Clark leads the offense at 3.06 kills, Valentina Gonzalez and Ann Dylla rank fifth and sixth in the SEC in blocks, while Gonzalez is the Dogs’ second-leading attacker. Kathleen Gates guides the offense with a 9.93 assists average. Carla Tietz is Georgia’s libero

Series History vs. The Bulldogs
South Carolina has not played any team more than Georgia, as the squads have clashed 57 times. Georgia holds a 41-16 advantage in the series, including a win last season in Athens. The Gamecocks are 8-18 at home against the Bulldogs but 8-10 since joining the SEC prior to the 1991 season.