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Nov. 18, 2010

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Jordan Bradosky Feature

COLUMBIA, S.C. – After a big home weekend sweep, the South Carolina volleyball team embarks on its final road trip of 2010. The LSU Tigers, ranked 16th in the latest national poll from the AVCA, and Gamecocks tangle at 8 p.m. EST in the Pete Maravich Assembly Center on Friday. Sunday’s match at Barnhill Arena is scheduled for a 2:30 p.m. EST first serve. Live stats will be provided for both outings, while score updates are posted at

Outstanding Senior Night
On Nov. 13, South Carolina honored its three seniors prior to the match. And those three players all played significant roles in the five-set win over Mississippi State. Megan Laughlin tallied a team-leading 15 kills, becoming the 12th Gamecock in history with 1,000 kills, while hitting .353. Jordan Bradosky added a double-double with 18 assists, which made her the 12th Gamecock with career 1,000 assists, and 13 digs. And Hannah Lawing etched her name atop the program’s single-match charts in digs, hoisting 38 balls. She also led the team with two aces, did not have a reception error in 18 tries, and posted 11 kills during three sets in the rotation. Their efforts propelled the team to a season sweep of the Bulldogs.

Almost the End for Senior Trio
South Carolina honored the three seniors who have been with Ben Somera since the beginning of his head-coaching tenure prior to the Nov. 13 match against Mississippi State. The trio of Jordan Bradosky, Megan Laughlin and Hannah Lawing have all played big roles on and off the court for the Gamecocks during their four years, all starting as freshmen. All have reaped honors, as Laughlin garnered SEC All-Freshman Team honors and both Laughlin and Bradosky have garnered three SEC Academic Honor Roll mentions. Lawing, who currently leads the league in digs, is a three-time SEC Defensive Player of the Week winner.

Juliette Thévenin Leading the Offense
Freshman Juliette Thévenin leads the Gamecocks in kills per set and stands third in hitting percentage among active players. Despite missing the first weekend of the year, she has led the team in kills 17 times, the most on the squad. If she continues to top South Carolina in kills, she would be just the fifth freshman since 1983 to accomplish that feat, joining Lori Rowe, Cally Plummer, Berna Dwyer and Lynae Vanden Hull with that distinction.

Thévenin became the second Gamecock in history to earn SEC Freshman of the Week honors after averaging 5.17 kills per set during the Kentucky/Tennessee home weekend. Her 17 kills helped South Carolina defeat Kentucky for the first time since 2006, while she posted a then-career-best .345 hitting percentage against the 21st-ranked Lady Vols. It was the Gamecocks’ second weekly award this season.

Lawing Takes Over as (Back-row) Leader with Resounding Performance
Senior Hannah Lawing spent time both as a back-row specialist and as a full-rotation player during her first three years. This year, the Marietta, Ga., product has played almost exclusively at libero, and she’s been great. At the State Farm Illini Classic, Lawing dug 5.91 balls per set, nearly 2.5 more than the next closest person. For her efforts, she claimed a spot on the all-tournament team while also earning the SEC Defensive Player of the Week award for the second time in her career. Lawing continued her great work through the pre-conference schedule, claiming all-tourney honors at the Carolina Challenge and Most Outstanding Libero accolades at the Gamecock Invitational.

She has not let up in league play, leading the SEC in digs overall (4.98) and in conference matches only (4.75). Lawing has compiled those numbers in league play despite spending 15 sets now and the nine of the past 14 in the regular rotation at outside hitter. She’s also the only player in the SEC this season to post a 30-dig match, doing it twice.

Climbing the Single-Season Charts
Senior Hannah Lawing has joined some elite company in 27 matches. She ranks second in digs during the rally-scoring era on the single-season charts. Already on the career digs list, Lawing needs 16 digs to surpass former teammate Sarah Cline’s rally-scoring single-season mark of 498 set last year,. Lawing needs 42 to tie Diane Denton’s all-time single-season mark of 525, set in 1987.

More on Single-Season (Class) Records
Hannah Lawing isn’t the only Gamecock chasing spots in the record books. In the class records, freshman Juliette Thévenin is looking for spots on three lists. If the season ended today, she’d stand second in kills per set by a freshman. She’s just outside the top three in kills by a freshman, needing 45 to tie Cally Plummer, while she’s 14 away from tying Lynae Vanden Hull for third in attacks.

Lawing is second in digs by a senior behind Sarah Cline’s rally-scoring era single-season mark set last year. Lawing is on pace for the senior digs-per-set mark.

Gamecocks Suffer on Sundays
South Carolina holds a 1-7 record on Sundays this season, picking up its only win against The Citadel in non-conference play. The Gamecocks have not put up a great fight either on the Sabbath, forcing an extra set in just two of those seven Sunday setbacks.

Single-Match Superlatives
South Carolina’s players have posted outstanding individual efforts this fall, with many registering on the single-match charts for the Gamecocks. Setters Jordan Bradosky and Taylor Bruns posted six aces in a match this season. Bradosky’s six against The Citadel tied her for third on the four-set match charts, while Bruns’ six against BYU tied her for second in a five-set outing.

Lawing now owns the second-highest digs mark in a three-match set with 26 against Furman and the top spot on the five-set match and all-time match charts with 38 against Mississippi State. She also owns a tie for sixth in five-set matches, that coming against BYU. Her record against Mississippi State helped the Gamecocks tie the second-most digs in a five-set match and the fifth-most in any match as a team in history, as South Carolina dug 114 balls in the win over Mississippi State. Teresa Stenlund tied a record in three-set matches with five solo blocks against Lipscomb. She tied Lori Rowe’s mark set against Western Carolina in 1983. That helped the Gamecocks tie the third-most solo stops in a three-set match, done three times previously.

Scouting No. 16 LSU
With one of the SEC’s most prolific offenses, the Tigers own a 23-3 overall record and a 14-3 mark in SEC play. LSU holds considerable advanrages in every state over its foes on the year. In the SEC stat rankings for league matches only, the Tigers lead the way in kills, assists and digs and rank third in hitting percentage, blocks and opponent hitting percentage. The only low spot is service aces, as LSU is sixth there, just ahead of the Gamecocks.

Angela Bensend leads LSU in kills (3.87 per set) while standing second on the team in digs (2.65 per set). Michele Williams leads the hitters with a .313 hitting percentage while posting 3.15 kills per set. Madie Jones hits .298 while ranking third with 2.67 kills per set. Desiree Elliott leads the Tigers with 1.05 blocks per set, while she’s fourth in kills at 2.35. Setter Brittney Johnson distributes 10.73 assists per set, while she also posts 1.47 kills per set. Lauren Waclawczyk tops the Tigers in digs at 4.13 and aces at 0.28.

Series History vs. the Tigers
In 27 previous volleyball meetings, the second-least amount of matches for South Carolina against an SEC opponent (one more than against Arkansas), LSU holds a slim 15-12 advantage over the Gamecocks. The Tigers have one four straight, the last three in three sets. LSU owns a 7-6 advantage in meetings in Louisiana’s capital city.

Scouting Arkansas
The Razorbacks have been on a roller coaster this season while holding a 13-15 overall record coming into this weekend and a 7-10 mark in SEC play. Starting 6-1, Arkansas went 1-6 next before two-consecutive wins, including one over South Carolina. From there, the Hogs lost six straight before reboudning with a four-match winning streak, including three wins at home. On the road last weekend, the Razorbacks lost at both Kentucky and Tennessee. Statistically, the Hogs are only in the top half of the league in service aces, posting 1.07 per set in SEC play.

Much like Auburn, Arkansas gets contributions from everyone on its roster. Jasmine Norton, however, is the focal point, as she leads the team with 3.92 kills per set, which leads the SEC. Kelli Stipanovic ranks second in both kills (2.32 per set) and hitting percentage (.256). Janeliss Torres is among the league leaders in blocks (1.11 per set) and ranks third on the team in kills and hitting percentage. Amanda Anderson leads Arkansas with her .278 hitting percentage. Brooke Fournier leads the Razorbacks with 3.06 digs per set. Arkansas is the only team in the SEC without a representative in the digs’ top 10.

Series History vs. the Razorbacks
For South Carolina, the least-played conference opponent is Arkansas, for a good reason, too. The Razorbacks have taken 17 of the 26 matches all-time. The Razorbacks have won three straight in the series and hold an 8-4 advantage in the meetings in Fayetteville.

This Is Not Normal
The Gamecocks have been in a different position than they’ve been in recently. In 2008 and 2009, the team posted more digs than their foes in 60 percent of the matches (36 of 60), going 27-9 in those matches. This season, South Carolina has won the digs war nine times while tying once, owning a 5-5 record in those matches.

Lots of New Faces, But We’ve Been There Before
The Gamecocks started 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, seven have seen court time, with six drawing at least one start.

Not Quite as Young as 2007
South Carolina is one of the youngest teams in the country, as the nine freshmen on the roster tie for the most in the country in NCAA Division I. That doesn’t mean they are being relied upon as much as it seems. In similar circumstances back in 2007, when nine freshmen (one of those being a redshirt) were on the roster, the team drew 86 starts out of the group, or one less than half in the six rotation spots in 29 matches. Also, the 2007 group played in 463 sets combined in 106 frames. This season, the freshmen have compiled 55 starts in 27 matches and played in 327 sets thus far out of 97.

But Could We Repeat That Ending?
The 2007 team, as it gained experience and confidence, came together to go .500 in the final half of SEC play. The Gamecocks would welcome that this season after going 1-9 thru the first meeting against each team.

Can We Just Play on Friday?
The Gamecocks have had problems on days starting in “S.” Five of South Carolina’s wins have come on Friday, including the only SEC road win in Starkville earlier this year. On Saturday and Sunday, the record is 2-12.

I Said O . . . Olivia Ryder
After missing most of her senior season in high school and her true freshman year, redshirt sophomore Olivia Ryder has started showing what made her a top recruit. The Detroit area outside hitter posted then-career bests in kills (10), attempts (25) and hitting percentage (.320) when she came in against No. 18 Tennessee. She’s since bested those, including a .500 hitting percentage and 15 kills in the victory over Kentucky on Oct. 22. Among Gamecocks, she leads the team in hitting percentage overall (.246) and second in SEC play with a 2.10 kills average.

Stenlund Stuffing
Junior middle blocker Teresa Stenlund has stepped up in the middle for the Gamecocks. The 6-2 California native blocked a then-career best seven balls against Lipscomb, including five solo stuffs. That’s the most solo blocks for a Gamecock since Ben Somera joined South Carolina in 2005. That Lipscomb outing matched what Stenlund had done in her previous two seasons at South Carolina. She also posted six blocks in the win over The Citadel before besting her Lipscomb output with nine blocks against Arkansas, including a career-best eight assisted. In the home weekend against Alabama and Mississippi State, she posted seven block assists in each outing. She now leads the team with a 0.73 blocks average.

Looking for Some Help
South Carolina has made a mark with its serve reception and passing numbers in previous seasons. This season, senior libero Hannah Lawing is posting gaudy numbers, but there’s not much help. She’s just one of two Gamecocks who average more than two digs a set, as freshman Juliette Thévenin joined her after 21 matches. The Gamecocks have primarily tried to help Lawing by using the 6-2, relying on setters Jordan Bradosky and Taylor Bruns in defensive roles while also getting better passing from outside hitters Christina Glover and Thévenin.

Another option was tried against LSU and seven more times since, when Lawing moved out of the libero spot into the full rotation, while Wheeler took the off-colored jersey. It worked in serve receive against the LSU Tigers, as Wheeler had no errors in 14 tries. And Wheeler posted 16 digs in the home win over Mississippi State.

Is It That Simple?
In 2008 and 2009, the Gamecocks had a simple formula for winning: have a higher hitting percentage than their foe. South Carolina owns a 29-1 mark when it out-hits the opposition since the start of 2008. That includes a 5-0 record in 2010 when winning the hitting percentage battle. The two wins when not topping the foes in hitting percentage both came against Mississippi State.

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).

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.

Howley Out for the Year
A promising rookie season was cut short as Cara Howley injured her knee at Tennessee. The outside hitter from the greater Dallas area came down awkwardly from an attack, and the resulting MRI showed a torn ACL in her left knee. She underwent surgery on Oct. 14 to repair the damage. Howley had led the team twice in kills and stood third in both kills per set and hitting percentage. She also topped regular rotation players in blocks at the time of the injury.

Looking to Change Fortune
Since 1991, the Gamecocks hold a 8-86 record against ranked opponents, including an 0-6 mark this season. Half of those eight wins over ranked teams have come against SEC foes, twice over Florida. Against top-10 teams, that mark falls to 1-45, with the lone win coming over a sixth-ranked Gator team in 2006.