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Nov. 13, 2011

Box Score by Koby Padgett
Assistant Media Relations Director

BATON ROUGE, La. – South Carolina (12-15, 3-14 SEC) came out strong at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, taking the first two sets, but LSU (18-9, 11-6 SEC) fought back and claimed the final three sets in a five-set win 22-25, 24-26, 25-21, 25-21, 15-6 on Sunday afternoon.

Madie Jones led LSU with 23 kills and hit .333. Michele Williams added 15 kills, while Helen Boyle and Desiree Elliott both posted 12 kills. Elliott added six blocks, including three solo. Meghan Mannari tallied a match-high 39 digs, with Lauren Waclawczyk contributing 15. Malorie Pardo added 56 assists and 12 digs.

Sophomore libero Paige Wheeler led the Gamecocks with 27 digs. Sophomore outside hitter Juliette Thévenin (19 kills and 10 digs) and junior setter Taylor Bruns (47 assists and 14 digs) both tallied double-doubles. Senior middle blocker Teresa Stenlund and redshirt freshman outside hitter Cara Howley both tallied 11 kills and three blocks, while Howley also posted a career-best three aces. Sophomore middle blocker Megan Kent posted a career-best 10 kills. Sophomore defensive specialist Lindsey Craft added 14 digs, and freshman outside hitter Bethanie Thomas contributed 12.

Through the midway point of the first set, only three times had either team posted back-to-back points. The Tigers looked to have taken control with a 6-2 run that made it 18-15, but South Carolina responded with a 7-2 skein to take a 23-20 lead. The Tigers drew within one after a Gamecock attack error and Jones’s kill on the overpass. South Carolina, however, closed out the set at 25-22, getting an LSU service error and a solo block from Thomas to close the frame. Thévenin had five kills in the frame to lead the Gamecocks, while Thomas had two kills and seven digs.

The teams matched runs early in the second set, with South Carolina’s four-point skein putting the Gamecocks up 18-15. Stenlund powered that run with two kills and a block assist. But LSU responded with a 5-1 stand to take the 21-20 lead, getting two kills each from Elliott and Boyle in the sequence. The Gamecocks retook the lead after a block from Kent and Howley and a Howley ace, but LSU took three of the next four points, all three coming on Jones kills, to get to set point. South Carolina fought off the attempt, with Thévenin putting a ball in the seam to tie the frame at 24. Stenlund put down a quick set to give the Gamecocks a set point, and Thévenin put away a back-row kill to end the set at 26-24. Thévenin added five more kills in the frame, while Stenlund led the way with six on eight swings. Wheeler also had six digs in the set.

LSU ran out to a 10-5 lead in the third behind a 5-1 run that came behind two block assists and a kill from Elliott. But South Carolina responded with a 7-1 stand to take a 14-12 lead. Thévenin had two kills in the stretch. The Tigers came back, first with a 4-1 run that made it 18-17. After consecutive Gamecock points, LSU responded with a 7-2 run to win the set 25-21. Jones had four kills in the stretch, while Williams ended the frame with a roll shot that the Gamecocks dug but could not pass. Jones had seven kills and Williams five in the third for LSU. Mannari added 11 digs for the second straight set.

The teams traded runs in the fourth set, with the Gamecocks 7-2 streak topped by the Tigers’ six-point skein that made it 12-9. The Gamecocks called timeout and settled down there, coming back with five straight points, four on Howley kills, to take a 18-15 lead. The teams traded the next eight points before Boyle posted a kill and an ace to bring the Tigers within one at 22-21. After a Gamecock kill, the Tigers claimed the next four points to take the set at 25-23, with Jones putting one down the line to end it. LSU took the frame despite South Carolina outhitting the Tigers .316 to .258. Howley had seven kills in the set, while Thévenin added six.

The Tigers came out strong in the fifth set, holding a 10-2 lead at one point. Three of the first four points came from Tiger blocks, with Williams assisting on all three. The Gamecocks got back-to-back points, including a kill from Kent, but it would not be enough, as LSU claimed the frame 15-6 on consecutive Elliott kills. LSU hit .500 in the final set without an error.

LSU won every stat category, including an 11-6 advantage in blocks and a 7-4 lead in aces. LSU also hit .262 in the match, compared to .211 for South Carolina. The Gamecocks played their first five-set match since the SEC opener at Mississippi State.

The Gamecocks return to Columbia for their final two home matches of the year, hosting Auburn on Friday night at 7 p.m. and Georgia on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. South Carolina will honor senior Teresa Stenlund and student assistant coach Olivia Ryder on Friday at the Volleyball Competition Facility.