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Nov. 18, 2011

Box Score | Photo Gallery media-icon-photogallery.gif

by Koby Padgett
Assistant Media Relations Director

November 18, 2011
Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th
Auburn 17 19 25 28
South Carolina 25 25 20 30
Senior Ceremony
Coach Swanson Teresa Stenlund

COLUMBIA, S.C. – In a hard-fought match on Senior Night, South Carolina (13-15, 4-14 SEC) came through with a four-set win over Auburn (10-18, 4-14 SEC), taking the sets 25-17, 25-19, 20-25, 30-28 in front of 706 fans at the Volleyball Competition Facility on Friday.

Middle blocker Teresa Stenlund, South Carolina’s lone playing senior, posted 10 kills for the Gamecocks. Junior setter Taylor Bruns and sophomore outside hitter Juliette Thévenin both had double-doubles, as Bruns posted 42 assists and 10 digs to compliment Thévenin’s 19 kills and 15 digs. Thévenin also led South Carolina in hitting with her .306 mark on the evening. Sophomore libero Paige Wheeler compiled a match-best 18 digs, and freshman outside hitter Bethanie Thomas added 11. Redshirt freshman outside hitter Cara Howley had 11 points on eight kills and a team-best four block assists.

Auburn’s Brittany Rhude and Chloe Rowand both posted career bests in kills, with 17 and 12, respectively. Kathia Rud also had 16 kills. MacKenzy Harper and Sarah Bullock both made 16 digs, while Chelsea Wintzinger posted 30 assists and 11 digs.

A late surge pushed the Gamecocks to a 25-17 set one win. Consecutive Auburn blocks brought the Tigers within one at 13-12, and they tied it at 14-14 after kills from Rud and Kelly Fidero. South Carolina responded, taking 11 of the final 14 points to claim the win. Howley had two kills, an ace and a block assist with Stenlund in the stretch, which ended with six-consecutive Gamecock points on Bruns’ serve. Thévenin had four kills and four digs in the frame.

South Carolina never trailed in the second set, taking it 25-19. Making three three-point stands helped, the first coming on Stenlund’s serve that made it 6-2. Wheeler’s serves made it 13-9 later, with Bruns getting a kill in the stretch. The final stand came at the close, as Bruns landed an ace before Howley ended the frame with her big line shot. The Gamecock defense held the Tigers to a .171 hitting percentage, their lowest of the match. Thévenin again posted four kills and six digs and added a solo block.

With 11 ties and four lead changes, the third set stood in stark contrast to the second. No team held more than a three-point advantage until Auburn’s last stand, where they claimed five of the final six points for a 25-20 victory. Vesela Zapryanova had two kills in the run, while Rowand finished off the frame with her fifth kill of the set. Auburn hit .400 in the frame and got five digs from Harper, who played libero for the first time in the match in the third.

The Gamecocks started the fourth set strong, holding a lead for most of the frame before Auburn fought back to tie it at 24-24. Rud and Zapryanova put down consecutive kills to tie the frame. Gamecock sophomore middle blocker Megan Kent put down a slide to hand the advantage back to the home team, but Rud tallied the next two kills to give Auburn a chance to take the set. A service error tied up the match at 26-26 before Rowand once again gave the Tigers a chance to force set five. This time, Thévenin posted a kill to knot it up at 27-27. An Auburn attack error gave South Carolina the chance to end it, but Rowand again extended the frame. Thévenin again put the Gamecocks to the brink, and Howley came through with a big shot down the line to end the frame at 30-28 and the match. Stenlund had seven of the Gamecocks’ kills in the final frame, helping the team hit .340 in the set.

South Carolina held advantages in blocks (6-4) and aces (5-5), while Auburn outhit the Gamecocks, 292-.268, and had more kills, assists and digs. The Tigers also recorded 13 service errors to the Gamecocks’ five and were whistled for six handling errors, while South Carolina had none, the true difference in the match. It is South Carolina’s first win this season when having the lower number in kills, assists or hitting percentage.

The Gamecocks close their home schedule on Sunday afternoon against Georgia, with first serve set for 1:30 p.m.