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Aug. 8, 2011

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina started its 39th year of volleyball with a pair of practices on Monday, kicking off a new era under first-year head coach Scott Swanson.

Four incoming freshmen joined 12 returning players in the morning and afternoon sessions, working on all facets of the game with the new staff. Drills focused on passing and defense took up a good amount of time, while the team worked on some offensive plays toward the end of the day. A spirited conditioning session ended the afternoon, with agilities and strength work guided by assistant strength and conditioning coach Jon Vaden.

“I thought it was exciting,” said Swanson. “Everyone came in ready. They all did a really nice job this summer staying strong, staying fit and playing together. That’s a big advantage for us because we don’t have a ton of two-a-days. Having the new kids come in with an idea of how we do things is huge.

“We’ve talked about our defensive and blocking system. We’ve gone over our offensive play set, a lot of ball control and movement. We’ve just scratched the surface, though. A lot of those things we’ll talk about in meetings.”

In between sessions, the Gamecocks took their yearly photos, with each player also participating in a quick question-and-answer session for future features on

Swanson felt good at the end of the day, saying, “Overall, we’re right where we’d like to be. Now it’s time to get people comfortable in the positions where we’ll be training them. We’re doing well though. I’m very pleased with the new kids coming in ready to go as well as the returners. Everybody is going to be fighting for a spot.”

South Carolina fans can get their first glimpse of the Gamecocks on Sunday, Aug. 14, in an open scrimmage at the Volleyball Competition Facility, which will follow Fan Appreciation Day festivities at Colonial Life Arena.