Nov. 3, 2011
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Gamecocks return home to take on Ole Miss and Alabama at the Volleyball Competition Facility, and SportSouth will broadcast both matches to its regional audience. Friday’s match against the Rebels starts at 7 p.m., while Sunday’s matchup with the Crimson Tide begins at 1 p.m. While GamecocksOnline.com will still have Gametracker live stats, fans outside the SportSouth footprint will need to turn to ESPN3.com to watch live on the web.
700 And Counting
In the 39th year of sponsoring volleyball, South Carolina has made seven NCAA Tournament appearances and posted 17 20-win seasons in history. On Sept. 10, the Gamecocks tallied the 700th win in program history, dispatching College of Charleston in five for the win. Not content there, the Gamecocks started the climb to 800 with a sweep of Winthrop. South Carolina is the sixth team in the SEC to compile 700 wins all-time, following Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU and Tennessee.
The Improvement Is Easy to See
South Carolina surpassed its win total from 2010 before starting SEC play. The 2011 edition won its first seven matches inside the first eight days of the schedule. To put that in perspective, the Gamecocks did not win their seventh match of 2010 until the 27th match last season on Nov. 13, 79 days into the season. They did not win their first match of the year until Sept. 10, which was the third weekend of play.
Once Again, South Carolina Among the Youngest
After tying for the nation’s lead with nine freshmen on the roster last year, the Gamecocks are still among one of the youngest teams in the country. According to data compiled by Brian Wolff at Buffalo, the 12 underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) rank eighth in the country in number. By percentage of roster members, the Gamecocks’ 75 percent mark stands sixth in the country. A pair of historically-strong programs also make the list, with Penn State and Hawaii also making the top 10 in both.
South Carolina Among Nation’s Best
Halfway into the season, the Gamecocks are among the nation’s leaders in digs, ranking 40th with a 16.91 per-set average. Offensively, South Carolina is 64th in assists (12.57), 73rd in kills (13.42) and 65th in hitting (.234). The full stats breakdown for the Gamecocks comes on page seven of the notes.
Competition on Career Digs Chart
Currently, three Gamecocks appear in a row on the all-time digs list at South Carolina. Sophomore Paige Wheeler jumped ahead of the group into 44th with 455 career digs. In 46th now is junior Taylor Bruns with 449 digs, three ahead of sophomore Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin in 47th. In between Wheeler and her two teammates are Katelyn Panzau, who had 451 digs in her two-year career. The next people on the list to pass are Tina Grutsch and Nadia Sefferovich, who both had 468 digs in their career.
Top 50 in Gamecock History
A quartet of Gamecocks continue to climb in the top 50 on South Carolina’s all-time lists in 2011. Senior Teresa Stenlund stands 47th in kills (431) and 48th in attack attempts (1108) for her career, while sophomore libero Paige Wheeler ranks 44th in digs with 455. Sophomore Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin ranks in the top 50 in kills (586, 32nd), attacks (1,576, 31st), digs (446, 47th) and points (658.5, 42nd) while Stenlund is in the top 50 in points (541.5, 50th) and in the top 40 in blocks solo (30, T-24th), block assists (145, 31st) and total blocks (175, 31st).
Junior setter Taylor Bruns ranks 11th in school history in assists (1,636), passing Petra Lorenzi during the College of Charleston Invitational. She’s now 47th in aces with 51 and stands 46th in digs with 449.
Belgian Sensation Picking up Where She Left Off
Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin started 2011 much as she finished 2010, when she earned SEC All-Freshman Team honors and became the fifth freshman since 1983 to lead the Gamecocks in kills, joining Lori Rowe, Cally Plummer, Berna Dwyer and Lynae Vanden Hull with that distinction.
The sophomore returned to action at Ole Miss after missing five matches due to concussion symptoms and picked up where she left off, posting a double-double with 17 kills and 10 digs in the four-set victory. ThÃƒÂ©venin ranks fourth in the SEC in kills, sixth in points and ninth in digs.
ThÃƒÂ©venin Return Brings About Season Best
South Carolina posted a season-best .394 hitting percentage in the win at Ole Miss. That ranks as the third-best four-set match mark in Gamecock history and the highest in the rally-scoring era. The return of sophomore outside hitter Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin seemed to spark the Gamecock offense and open things up for other hitters.
Opportunity Knocks, Howley Answers
When Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin was out due to injury, it created the chance for some other players to show their skills in the lineup. Redshirt freshman Cara Howley took the opportunity and ran with it, putting herself back in the rotation with her stellar play. The McKinney, Texas, product tied for the team lead with a 2.50 kills average and helped better the team’s hitting percentage during the five-match stretch with her .225 mark. When ThÃƒÂ©venin returned against Ole Miss, Howley shined, posting 12 kills and a .524 hitting percentage. She continued that roll with consecutive 10-point performances against No. 13 Florida and Mississippi State.
In 2010, Howley saw her true freshman season cut short due to a knee injury in her first career SEC match. At the time of the injury, she ranked third on the team in hitting percentage and kills per set.
Gamecocks Look to Change Results in TV Matches
South Carolina has both of its matches on television this weekend. Overall, the Gamecocks are 12-14 when the big cameras come out. The chart of South Carolina’s TV matches appears in the PDF version of the notes linked at the top of this story.
Wheeler Posting Gaudy Numbers
Sophomore Paige Wheeler came into the season fighting to be the one to fill the huge shoes of Hannah Lawing and, before her, Sarah Cline in the libero role. So far, she has played well, leading the team and ranking third in the SEC with 4.34 digs per set. The sophomore earned all-tournament team honors at the College of Charleston Invitational, averaging five digs per set during the event. She posted the third 30+ dig contest in the SEC this season with 31 in the win over College of Charleston.
She averaged 5.86 digs per set during the LSU/Arkansas home weekend on Oct. 7-9, including posting 25 digs against the Tigers on Friday night.
Libero Leaders Face Off Friday
Two of the top four liberos in the SEC face off on Friday night. South Carolina’s Paige Wheeler (3rd, 4.34 digs per set) and Ole Miss’s Morgan Springer (4th, 4.06 digs per set) will wear the off-colored jersey for the Gamecocks and Rebels, respectively.
Scouting Ole Miss
The Rebels bring an 8-14 overall record and a 4-10 SEC mark into Friday’s match. The Rebels are on a three-match winning streak, however, winning at LSU in five before taking a four-set match vs. Auburn and sweeping Georgia. In the streak, Ole Miss has been the better blocking team and has also posted 11 aces in the last two outings.
Ole Miss’s offensive attack starts with Regina Thomas, who hits .386 and ranks third on the team with 2.20 kills per set. The middle blocker also leads the team at the net with 1.07 blocks per set. Allegra Wells (2.58 kills average) and Kara Morgan (2.40 kills average) help take some pressure off Thomas, and Whitney Craven has posted 16 kills in the past seven sets on the outside. Amanda Philpot ranks as one of the most active setters in the league, tallying 1.47 kills per set while making 8.55 assists a frame. Morgan Springer captains the back row, making 4.06 digs per set.
Series History vs. the Rebels
South Carolina holds a 24-12 advantage all-time against Ole Miss, winning four of the last six outings. In Columbia, that mark stands at 12-3, though the two teams have split the last four matches in the Volleyball Competition Facility. The Gamecocks took the earlier meeting in Oxford in four sets.
Getzin Has South Carolina Ties
Ole Miss head coach Joe Getzin should feel quite at home on Friday night, as he once roamed the sidelines regularly at the VCF. Getzin served as an assistant coach twice under former Gamecock leader Kim Hudson, first in 1994-95 and again in 2000-01.
Reuniting Club Members
Three Gamecocks get to see former club teammates this weekend. Junior Brandi Byers and sophomore Lindsey Craft played with the same A5 club that Alabama junior Leigh Moyer and Ole Miss junior Ashley Veach once played for in the Atlanta area. And Ole Miss freshman Ty Laporte came out of the Columbia-based Magnum club that redshirt freshman Kellie Schmidt played with prior to her college days.
Pair of Top Outside Hitters on Opposite Sides Sunday
Sunday’s contest features two of the top outside hitters in the SEC, both of who missed the earlier meeting. The Tide’s Kayla Fitterer and the Gamecocks’ Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin rank third and fourth in the SEC in kills per set, while they are third and fifth, respectively, in points. Fitterer missed four SEC matches due to an abdominal strain, while ThÃƒÂ©venin sat out five due to concussion symptoms.
The Crimson Tide bring an 11-14 record overall and a 4-10 SEC mark into the weekend’s matches. In SEC play, Alabama’s been low in every category, ranking 10th or 11th in everything but service aces (6th, 0.96) and digs (9th, 14.10).
Kayla Fitterer powers the Alabama offense, averaging 4.12 kills per set, while she also ranks second on the team in aces (0.26 per set) and third in digs (2.68 per set). Cortney Warren adds 2.61 kills per set, while Andrea McQuaid is third with 1.85 kills per set. McQuaid also stands second on the Tide in assists, third in aces and fourth in digs. Cristina Arenas tops Alabama with 3.46 digs per set. Stephanie Riley leads the team with 5.39 assists per set.
Series History vs. the Crimson Tide
Alabama owns a 22-16 lead in the all-time series that dates back to 1979. Recently, the Tide have taken four of the last five meetings, including the earlier meeting this year in Tuscaloosa. In Columbia, the Gamecocks are 10-5 against Alabama, taking last year’s meeting at the VCF in four sets.
Gamecocks’ Crimson Tide Connection
South Carolina’s graduate assistant, Amy Pauly, is a four-year letter winner at Alabama, holding the Crimson Tide’s all-time digs record.
You Never Know What You’ll Hear
The Gamecocks have people who can speak in many different tongues. Student-athletes Teresa Stenlund and Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin both list four languages in their grasp, while assistant coach Michelle Collier can speak three. If the staff’s kids (each coach has a child aged two or under) picked up all the languages one might hear from that trio, they would be working on seven languages (Dutch, English, French, German, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish).
Roster Filled from All Over
Out of 16 players on South Carolina’s 2011 roster, a mere handful come from the same states. Four hail from South Carolina, and two come from Georgia. The rest come from states as far away as California, Indiana and Maryland. One even comes from Belgium, making this the 16th-consecutive season at least one Gamecock hailed from a different country.
The Gamecocks have posted outstanding individual efforts this fall, with some ranking on the program’s single-match charts. Sophomore Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin registered on two lists during the team’s season-opening win over Montana. Her 21 kills and 50 attacks both tied for fourth on the three-set match list.
During the Gamecock Invitational, freshman Bethanie Thomas’s .577 hitting percentage against Elon became the fifth-best performance on the four-set match list. And sophomore Paige Wheeler tallied 28 digs against the Phoenix, tied for third on that list.
Thomas Standing Tall
Freshman outside hitter Bethanie Thomas impressed the Gamecock coaching staff from the first day of practice this fall. They got the early glimpse at what was to come, as the freshman has played in every match and ranks second on the team in kills (2.35 per set) and third in digs (2.82 per set). She also leads the team in serve-reception percentage (.956), fielding the most serves on the team. The MVP of the Gamecock Invitational, she hit .391 and ranked second on the team in kills and third in digs during the event.
Thomas has shifted to the left side recently, tying for the team lead with 2.50 kills per set while Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin was out for five matches. She also stood second on the squad with 3.19 digs per set in that stretch.