Nov. 20, 2011
by Koby Padgett
Assistant Media Relations Director
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Behind a relentless defensive effort and big offensive days from senior middle blocker Teresa Stenlund and redshirt freshman outside hitter Cara Howley, South Carolina (14-15, 5-14 SEC) downed Georgia (11-18, 7-12 SEC) in four sets, 15-25, 25-22, 26-24, 25-15, on Sunday afternoon at the Volleyball Competition Facility.
Howley led all attackers with her 14 kills, while Stenlund had 12, with both hitting over .300 to lead the Gamecocks. Stenlund also posted a team-high four blocks. Sophomore outside hitter Juliette Thevenin added a double-double with 10 kills and 13 digs. Sophomore libero Paige Wheeler tallied 28 digs, and junior setter Taylor Bruns contributed 45 assists and nine digs. Junior outside hitter Christina Glover posted eight kills and 11 digs in her reserve appearance, while sophomore middle blocker Megan Kent added eight kills and three block assists.
Kathleen Luft led Georgia with 12 kills, while Elizabeth Reid and Briana Bahr had 11 and 10, respectively. Reid also topped the Bulldogs with five blocks. Carla Tietz had 19 digs, Allison Summers made 13 and Brittany Northcutt 11. Kathleen Gates had 37 assists, six kills, seven digs and two aces.
Georgia took the first set behind some stellar defense 25-15. The Bulldogs held the Gamecocks to a -.031 hitting percentage, blocking four shots in the frame. South Carolina held a 7-6 advantage before Georgia took control. A four-point run handed the Bulldogs a 10-7 lead that they would never relinquish. They closed the set on a six-point stand, with Gates posting two aces to start the run and two blocks ending it. Georgia had a balanced attack, with five players getting at least two kills. Wheeler made seven digs for the Gamecocks.
The second set went South Carolina’s way from the outset. The Gamecocks took a 7-5 lead on a three-point skein that included two Howley kills. That lead grew to 15-11 after another three-point stand. Georgia tried to come back late, posting a six-point string to draw within one, but South Carolina came back to take three of the final four points to claim the set 25-22. Kent started the sequence with her fourth kill of the frame, and Stenlund ended it with her fourth kill of the second.
South Carolina held on to take the third set, 26-24. The Gamecocks held as large of a lead as six in the frame before Georgia fought back. A three-point Georgia run on Elena Perri’s serve drew the Bulldogs within three at 18-15. The Bulldogs tied things after a 5-1 run made it 23-23, but the Gamecocks took back the advantage with a kill from Glover. A Gamecock service error tied it again at 24-24, but Glover came back with another kill to give South Carolina a set point again. Georgia missed with its next attack, ending the frame at 26-24 for South Carolina. Wheeler had nine digs in the set, while Glover, Howley and Thevenin all had four kills in the frame, Glover without making an error.
The Gamecocks ran away with the fourth set, taking a 25-15 win the clincher. Three early Georgia attack errors set the Bulldogs back, but they came back to tie it at 4-4 thanks to kills from Luft and Gates. South Carolina took over from there with a three-point run to gain control. The Gamecocks closed the match on a 12-4 skein, with Howley ending the match for the second outing in a row. Howley had five kills without an error in the fourth, while Stenlund had four without a mistake in the frame, her final one at the VCF.
South Carolina held advantages in kills, assists and digs and outhit Georgia, .204-.182. The Bulldogs had 10 digs and five aces compared to seven and four, respectively, for the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks close the 2011 season on Wednesday at Florida, with first serve scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.