Nov. 8, 2009
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina (13-12, 5-11 SEC) suffered a heartbreaking loss on Sunday to Georgia (15-11, 6-9 SEC), falling in three sets, 25-27, 26-28, 26-28, at the Volleyball Competition Facility.
Junior Megan Laughlin and senior Ivana Kujundzic led the Gamecocks with 10 kills each. Senior Sarah Cline posted 11 digs, while junior Hannah Lawing had 10 digs, nine kills and three aces. Valentina Gonzalez hit .650 with 15 kills to top Georgia, while Erika Clark added 12 kills. Nicole Choi had 14 digs, while Bulldog libero Carla Tietz added 11 with three aces. Ann Dylla posted a match-best five blocks and contributed nine kills.
Georgia raced out to an 8-1 lead in the first behind two kills and a block assist from Clark. The Gamecocks fought back, taking two points to every one for Georgia during one stretch. The Gamecocks finally got within striking distance at 19-18 after a pair of aces by senior Meredith Moorhead. The Bulldogs got kills from Clark and Briana Bahr to get a cushion back, but South Carolina responded with a five-point run that included a kill and an ace from Lawing, giving the Gamecocks the 23-21 advantage. Georgia tied it on a Clark kill and block assist with Dylla, but Carolina got the first chance at set point after a Kujundzic kill. The next serve, however, went into the net, and the Bulldogs got the advantage back on a Kathleen Gates dump. Kujundzic tied it again at 25-25 on her fifth kill of the frame. But Georgia got kills from both Dylla and Gonzalez to take the set, 27-25. The Bulldogs hit .361 in the first.
The Bulldogs once again got an early lead in the second, making it 5-2 after a pair of blocks. South Carolina came back to take a 10-7 lead on Kujundzic’s serve, with the senior landing an ace during the five-point stand. Gonzalez tied it at 10-10 with back-to-back kills. From there, neither team got more than two points ahead. South Carolina had chances to end it after a Laughlin ace, but Clark tied it with consecutive kills. Kujundzic handed South Carolina another chance at 25-24, but the Bulldogs stood their ground, with Clark tying up the set. Dylla put Georgia up, 26-25, but Moorhead put a ball on the floor to tie it again. A Gamecock service error gave Georgia another set point, and the Bulldogs would take it at 28-26 after an errant Gamecock attack. Clark and Gonzalez both had six kills in the second.
Tietz led Georgia to a 9-5 lead in the third, getting two aces after a pair of Gonzalez kills started the five-point skein. South Carolina came back with five of its own on Bridget Denson-Dorman’s serve, getting two unassisted kills thanks to the senior to take a 12-11 lead. The teams both posted runs to keep the lead swinging back and forth. The Gamecocks seemed to have control at 23-20 after a five-point string led by freshman Taylor Bruns’ two aces. Georgia came back to tie it at 23-23 on kills by Dylla and Clark and an ace by Tietz. A wide Bulldog attack once again handed South Carolina a set-point opportunity, but Georgia’s Simone May got a kill to tie it again at 24-24. Moorhead gave South Carolina another chance to claim the set, but May again answered to tie things up at 25-25. Bahr’s unassisted kill gave Georgia a chance to end it, but Moorhead staved it off with a kill. Gonzalez came back with a point to give the Dogs one more chance, and she put it away with an ace that clipped off the top of the net and fell to the floor. Gonzalez had five kills in the final frame.
South Carolina won the service ace battle, 11-5, but lost all other statistical categories to Georgia.
The Gamecocks head to Orangeburg on Friday night to face South Carolina State for the second time in history. Match time is set for 7 p.m.