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Sept. 9, 2010

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Feature on Hannah Lawing
Coach Somera

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina returns home for the first time in 2010 to host the Gamecock Invitational. The Gamecocks face South Carolina State, Furman and Lipxcomb in the two-day event at the Volleyball Competition Facility. Live video will be available for free this season at GamecocksOnline.com, with both of Friday’s matches scheduled for broadcast. Gametracker live stats will be available for every match of the tournament.

People who have liked the Gamecocks’ Facebook fan page that show proof, either on their phone or via a printout, can get a prize from Gamecock Marketing, the first of the “Facebook Friday” promotions this year. Free pom-poms will also be available for Friday’s matches.

Gamecocks Struggle in Early Going
The beginning slate for South Carolina Volleyball in 2010 was known to be tough, but no one could have predicted this start. The Gamecocks enter their home tournament at 0-6, but the losses have come against quality opposition. Three teams (Illinois, Middle Tennessee and Clemson) made appearances in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. Two (Middle Tennessee and College of Charleston) were their respective league’s pick to win at least a division title. Lipscomb will add one more to both lists this weekend, as they are the defending champ and preseason favorite in the Atlantic Sun.

Lawing Takes Over As (Back-row) Leader With Resounding Performance
Senior Hannah Lawing has played as a back-row specialist and as a full-rotation player during her first three years. This year, the Marietta, Ga., product hopes to stick as libero, and if last weekend’s performance is any indication, she will be a great one. At the State Farm Illini Classic, Lawing dug 5.91 balls per set, nearly 2.5 more than the closest person. For her efforts, she claimed a spot on the classic’s all-tournament team while also earning the SEC Defensive Player of the Week award for the second time in her career.

She continued her great work at the Carolina Challenge, claiming all-tourney honors again. She still leads the SEC with a a 5.65 digs average.

Lots of New Faces, But We’ve Been There Before
The Gamecocks start 2010 with one of the youngest teams in the country. There are nine true freshmen on the roster, tying for the most among all NCAA Division I teams. But it’s not new for head coach Ben Somera to have such a young roster. In his first year in 2007, eight true freshmen were on the team, with a redshirt freshman joining that group. Three of those remain on this team as seniors. As for this year’s rookie class, five have already seen time on the court through just one weekend. Two, Cara Howley and Frankie Vain, drew starts during the State Farm Illini Classic.

Roster Filled from All Over
Out of 17 players on South Carolina’s 2010 roster, a mere handful come from the same states. Three each hail from South Carolina and Georgia, while two come from Illinois. The rest come from states as far away as California, Michigan and Maryland. One even comes from Belgium, making this the 15th-consecutive season at least one Gamecock hailed from a different country.

South Carolina In The SEC Stats
A couple of the Gamecocks stand out in the Southeastern Conference statistical rankings. Wednesday’s update shows the Garnet and Black standing second the SEC in digs per set at 16.48.

Senior Hannah Lawing stands atop the SEC with her 5.65 digs per set, while sophomore Taylor Bruns is fifth with 9.35 assists per set. Freshman Juliette Thévenin ranks seventh with 3.50 kills per set. The full table can be found in the PDF version of these notes linked above.

Freshmen Bombing Away on the Outside
South Carolina head coach Ben Somera has put his trust behind two freshman in the early going of 2010. After missing the first weekend waiting on NCAA clearance, Juliette Thévenin made an immediate impact during the Carolina Challenge. She now leads the team and ranks seventh in the SEC with 3.50 kills per set. She also tied for second on the team with 1.75 digs per frame. Cara Howley has now done it through two weekends, ranking third on the squad with a 2.26 kills average. She enters the weekend as second on the team in blocks at 0.61 per set. They have joined Megan Laughlin to make a formidable group of outside hitters.

Glover Shows Promise in Illinois
After playing in spurts as a freshman, Christina Glover claimed one of the starting outside hitter spots to begin 2010. And she showed a bit of her improvement in the first weekend, ranking second on the team with a 2.45 kills average while hitting .148. Her 2.64 digs per set stood third on the team, and she posted her first career double-double with 15 kills and 16 digs in the match against BYU. She resumed a backup role during the second weekend, making eight kills in five sets of action. 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). Christina is believed to be the first “legacy” player in Gamecock history.

You Never Know What You’ll Hear
The Gamecocks have people who can speak in many different tongues. Players Teresa Stenlund and Juliette Thévenin both list four languages in their grasp, while new staff members (and wife-and-husband) Michelle Collier and Rafael Silva both can speak three. If the Silva’s little girl, Tais, picked up all the languages one might hear from those four, she would be working on seven languages (Dutch, English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish).

Scouting South Carolina State
The Bulldogs enter the Gamecock Invitational with a 1-7 record, dropping their last outing on Tuesday night at Western Carolina in five sets. One of SCSU’s main problems has been in serve receive Their opponents have landed 1.6 aces a set, compared to just 0.8 for the Bulldogs. Defense has also been tough, making just 11.2 digs per frame. Jarne Gleaton leads the Bulldogs with 2.93 kills per set.Shabree Roberson has the top hitting percentage at .236. Bria Brimmer is setting again, posting 8.07 assists per set. She’s also second on the team in digs behind Melissa Robinson’s 2.70. Roberson leads the way in blocks at 0.90 per set.

Series History vs. The Bulldogs
The Gamecocks own a 2-0 record over their closest rival by distance in NCAA Division I, sweeping the 2008 meeting at the Volleyball Competition Facility and taking a 3-0 win at SCSU last year.

Scouting Furman
The Paladins hold a 2-4 record on the season, but the losses have come against top competition, including Colorado and Colorado State to start the year. They are quite close to their foes in team stats, with the biggest gap coming in kills (12.6 to 11.7). Furman has out-dug its opponents, 15.85 to 15.05, and out-blocked them as well at 2.10 to 2.05. Junior Kelly Kirby is an all-around threat, topping the team with 2.90 kills per set and a .229 hitting percentage,, standing second in blocks at 0.80 and third in digs at 2.65. Three other Paladins average over two kills per set. Kirby may also be the second setter in the 6-2, as sh’s averagin 3.10 assists per frame. Sophomore Natalie Braun is one of those at 2.30, good enough for third in kills, and she leads the squad with 3.25 digs er set. Freshman Elle Ross starts at libero and ranks second on the team with 3.05 digs per set. Sophomore Caroline Adams leads the squad in blocks, putting down a ball per set. Leading Furman in assists is freshman Sarah McCarthy, posting 6.65 a set.

Series History vs. The Paladins
South Carolina owns a 3-0 mark over Furman, winning three home matches, one each in 1989, 1992 and 1994.

Scouting Lipscomb
The favorite in the Atlantic Sun Conference, Lipscomb enters the weekend with a 4-2 record, already defeating teams from the Missouri Valley, Big Ten West Coast and Conference USA in their pre-conference schedule. A participant in two of the last three NCAA Tournaments, the Lady Bisons have served opponents tough, averaging 1.5 aces per set while giving up only 0.8. They also average almost two kills more per set than their foes on the season. Senior middle blocker Alex Kelly is the top offensive force. She averages 4.38 kills per set and hits .313, second on the squad. The top-ranked hitter by percentage, junior Katie Rose, stands fourth on the team with 2.14 kills per set. Sophomore Kaycee Green tops the outside hitters with a 3.00 kills average and a .171 hitting percentage. Senior Meghan Hinemeyer stands third in kills at 2.33. Running the offense is Stefine “Jake” Pease, who has dished out 11.43 assists per set. Kelly, with 4.43 digs per set, also leads a back-row defense that has five players with over two digs a set. The front row is maybe the only weakness, as Rose (0.90) and Kelly (0.81) both average under a block a set.

Series History vs. The Lady Bisons
The Gamecocks have never face Lipscomb in history.

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