Aug. 26, 2011
by Koby Padgett
Assistant Media Relations Director
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – South Carolina (1-0) fought through a tight first set to sweep Montana (0-1) in three sets on the first day of the Temple Invitational. Gamecock head coach Scott Swanson tallied his first win at South Carolina with 34-32, 25-15, 25-15 set scores.
South Carolina sophomore outside hitter Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin led the way with 21 kills on a .340 hitting percentage to go with 18 digs. Junior setter Taylor Bruns tallied a match-high 20 digs, 36 assists, two kills, two aces and four block assists. Sophomore libero Paige Wheeler had 14 digs while freshman outside hitter Bethanie Thomas added 11 to go with nine kills. Redshirt freshman Cara Howley added four block assists, and sophomore Megan Kent tallied three kills and three block assists in the victory. Kayla Reno led Montana with 13 kills and 19 digs.
“Being the first match of the season, I thought we were a little tentative,” said Swanson. “We made some adjustments, putting Megan Kent and Cara Howley in the middle to mix things up, and it made a difference for us defensively at the net.”
The Gamecocks prevailed in the first set, 34-32, in a frame that had 13 ties and three lead changes. South Carolina fought off four set points before claiming the win with three-consecutive points, including the team’s first block of the match. After a solo block by Montana’s Kayla Reno gave the Grizzlies a chance to end the set, Bruns completed a successful dump to tie things at 32-32. ThÃƒÂ©venin put away her 10th kill of the frame to give South Carolina its sixth set-point chance. The block came through in the end, as Kent and Thomas stopped the Grizzly shot to end it at 34-32. ThÃƒÂ©venin had 14 digs in the first to go with those 10 kills, while Bruns had eight digs.
The second set went South Carolina’s way from the start. Starting with a 6-2 advantage, the Gamecocks saw the lead shrink to two before pulling away again, taking 11 of the next 14 points. Bruns ended the set with a swinging kill at 25-15. Hitting .282 as a team in the frame, the Gamecocks held the Grizzlies to a .045 mark, helped by three Carolina blocks. ThÃƒÂ©venin had five kills, while Kent added two on four swings. Bruns and Howley combined on two blocks, while both Bruns and Wheeler added five digs.
The third closed just like the second, but the Gamecocks broke away earlier. With the frame tied at eight, South Carolina took seven of the next eight to put some distance between the Gamecocks and Grizzlies. During that run’s final three points, ThÃƒÂ©venin posted kills around an ace that made it 15-9. The Gamecocks had a five-point skein later, helped by two blocks from Bruns and Howley. The junior setter wrapped the set with an ace. South Carolina hit .242 in the final frames and landed the only three aces of the match in that period.
For the contest, the Gamecocks held advantages in every statistical category except digs, which the Grizzlies won, 75-73. South Carolina made 54 serve receptions without an error and had just two service errors, compared to Montana’s nine.
South Carolina closes out the Temple Invitational with two matches on Saturday, but the schedule has changed due to the threat of Hurricane Irene. The Gamecocks now face Stony Brook at 10 a.m. EDT before closing the tournament against Temple at 1 p.m.