Sept. 3, 2011
by Koby Padgett
Assistant Media Relations Director
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Behind a stellar offensive and defensive effort that produced career highs for a pair of Gamecocks, South Carolina (6-0) got past Elon (6-2) in four set, 25-20, 25-12, 22-25, 25-9, in front of 403 fans at the Volleyball Competition Facility on Saturday afternoon.
Sophomore libero Paige Wheeler posted a career-best 28 digs, which ties her for third on the four-set match list at South Carolina. Freshman outside hitter Bethanie Thomas led all players with 16 kills and tallied a .577 hitting percentage. Sophomore outside hitter Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin added her fifth double-double of the season with 14 kills and 16 digs. Freshman outside hitter Hanna Forst had 10 digs. Junior setter Taylor Bruns nearly had a double-double with eight kills and 46 assists. Middle blockers Frankie Vain and Teresa Stenlund helped out again, posting eight and nine kills each.
Carly Ledbetter and Allison Johnson led the Phoenix with nine kills each. Johnson had 10 digs and three blocks, while Ali Deatsch led her side with 16 digs. Caroline Lemke added five blocks and eight kills.
South Carolina claimed the first set, 25-20, behind some amazing defense and dynamic offense. The Gamecocks hit .457 in the frame while nearly doubling Elon’s dig total, 19-10. Two four-point runs put the Gamecocks up, 14-8. The last run had two Carolina blocks, both involving freshman outside hitter Hanna Forst. Elon put together a three-point stand to make it 19-16, but South Carolina answered with their own, helped by two ThÃƒÂ©venin kills. A blocking error by the Phoenix ended the frame. Wheeler had seven digs in the frame, while Forst and ThÃƒÂ©venin added five each. Six Gamecocks recorded multiple kills, led by ThÃƒÂ©venin and Vain’s four each.
The Gamecocks dominated the second set, taking a 25-12 win. A 7-1 advantage grew to 19-6 before the Phoenix slowed down the Gamecocks a bit. Thomas had three kills in the middle of that run. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Kellie Schmidt recorded her first career kill in the set, and freshman setter Lexie Pawlik had the final two Gamecock points to end the frame. South Carolina hit .433 while holding Elon to a .088 mark. Both ThÃƒÂ©venin and Thomas had four kills without errors, while sophomore middle blocker Megan Kent added three.
Elon came back to take the third set, 25-22, behind some strong play at the net. The Phoenix posted six blocks in the frame, compared to one by the Gamecocks. South Carolina held a 9-7 lead at one point, but Elon took charge with two four-point skeins, the final one, powered by Johnson’s two kills and a block assist with Danielle Smith, making it 18-13. The Gamecocks fought back to take a 20-18 lead after a seven-point stand, but Elon answered with a five-point run that put them to set point. Lemke ended the frame after an Elon error with a kill. Thomas had five kills in the frame, while Johnson had 5.5 of the Phoenix’s points.
Rebounding from the tough third set, the Gamecocks posted a 25-9 win in the final frame. Stenlund recorded seven of her nine kills in the frame, including the first and last for the Gamecocks, helping South Carolina to a .515 hitting percentage in the frame. Thomas added four kills without an error.
South Carolina held advantages of over 20 in kills, assists and digs over Elon, won the hitting battle, .359-.147, and doubled the Phoenix in aces, 4-2. The teams tied with seven blocks each.
The Gamecocks wrap up the weekend’s action at 7 p.m. tonight against UNC Asheville.