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April 6, 2012

BATON ROUGE, La. – No. 38 South Carolina narrowly missed out on its first win over LSU in eight tries as the No. 27 Tigers eked out two wins in the last three matches on court to earn a 4-3 victory Friday afternoon at W.T. Dub Robinson Stadium. The top three singles matches all went to three sets with momentum in each swinging wildly throughout. In the end, it was the higher-ranked Tigers that prevailed in the top two spots, while freshman Andrew Adams outlasted his freshman counterpart, No. 98 Chris Simpson in the No. 3 match for his second-straight win over a ranked opponent. Thiago Pinheiro and Chip Cox also added singles victories to the South Carolina tally.

“It was a great college match today,” South Carolina head coach Josh Goffi said. “I am proud of our team because they left their hearts on the court. We didn’t come out with the win, but we competed extremely well in all spots. That’s all I can ask for and, consequently, we got better today.”

The Gamecocks were sluggish out of the gate, falling behind in two of the three doubles matches. But the fight came back to them, and South Carolina did everything it could to hold off the Tigers’ tandems. After falling behind 0-7 in the No. 1 match, sophomores Cox and Nick Jones won five games straight to get back in the match. At the same time, both the other doubles matches were on serve. LSU’s Neal Skupski and Chris Simpson finally managed to close out the win at the top of the order, winning 8-5. In the No. 2 match, Ivan Machado and Pinheiro were even at 6-6, while freshmen Kyle Koch and Carl Eguez had just fallen behind 5-7 in the No. 3 match. The Gamecocks’ Brazilian tandem scored a late service break to win the No. 2 match 9-7, putting the weight of the point on the No. 3 contest. The Tigers’ Tom Knights and Stefan Szacinski managed to hold off Koch and Eguez in the final two games to score an 8-6 win and give LSU the first point of the match. It was the first SEC loss of the season for Koch and Eguez, ending their eight-match win streak.

The Tigers went up 2-0 quickly as Szacinski scored a 6-3, 6-3 win over Koch in the No. 6 matchup, but the Gamecocks were ahead in three of the other five matches on court and were on serve in the other two. After jumping out to a 3-0 lead, Pinheiro scored a 6-2 first-set win over James Turbervill in the No. 4 spot just as the Tigers won first sets on the Nos. 1 and 3 contests. Jones and Cox closed out their first sets minutes later in the Nos. 2 and 5 matches, respectively.

Bouyed by their teammates leading on three of the other courts, Machado and Adams began mounting their comebacks in the Nos. 1 and 3 contests. Machado broke through for a 5-2 lead in his second set and went on to win it 6-2, taking No. 55 Olivier Borsos to a third set. Adams was on serve late in his second set, pressuring No. 98 Simpson throughout. In the No. 2 match, however, Jones dropped his second set to No. 73 Skupski 2-6.

Back in the No. 4 match, Pinheiro stormed past Turbervill 6-1 in the second set to cut the LSU team lead in half. Soon after, Cox finished off Knights 6-3 in the second set to earn his second league win in his last three matches and knot the team score a 2-2. With a late service break, Adams leveled his match with a 7-5 second-set win, meaning the team result would come down to third sets in all three of the top spots in the lineup.

At the top of the lineup, Machado and Borsos were locked into an even battle. One spot down, however, Jones fell behind Skupski 1-4. Adams was grinding his way ahead of Simpson 3-0. From there, the momentum switched on all three courts. With a 5-4 lead, Machado yielded the next three games to fall to Borsos 5-7, bringing the Tigers within a point of winning the contest. Meanwhile, Jones battled his way back on serve, tying his set 5-5, but Adams saw Simpson win the next three games to even his set a 3-3. As Jones and Skupski went into a tiebreak, Simpson continued his hot streak to take a 5-3 lead over Adams. The Tigers’ senior edged out Jones in the tiebreak to win the No. 2 match 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5), sealing the team victory for LSU.

Adams stopped the Simpson run with back-to-back wins to draw even at 5-5. The two freshmen traded games, sending the final match to a tiebreak in the final set, which Adams dominated to complete his hard-fought 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1) comeback.

South Carolina heads to No. 41 Arkansas for a 2 p.m. (ET) match on Sun., April 8, before closing out the season at No. 9 Florida on Sat., April 14.

No. 27 LSU 4, No. 38 South Carolina 3

Doubles (Order of Finish: 1, 2, 3)
1. Neal Skupski/Chris Simpson (LSU) def. (47) Chip Cox/Nick Jones (SC) 8-5
2. Ivan Machado/Thiago Pinheiro (SC) def. Olivier Borsos/Roger Anderson (LSU) 9-7
3. Tom Knights/Stefan Szacinski (LSU) def. Kyle Koch/Carl Eguez (SC) 8-6

Singles (Order of Finish: 6, 4, 5, 1, 2, 3)
1. (55) Olivier Borsos (LSU) def. (121) Ivan Machado (SC) 6-4, 2-6, 7-5
2. (73) Neal Skupski (LSU) def. Nick Jones (SC) 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (5)
3. Andrew Adams (SC) def. (98) Chris Simpson (LSU) 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (1)
4. Thiago Pinheiro (SC) def. James Turbervill (LSU), 6-2, 6-1
5. Chip Cox (SC) def. Tom Knights (LSU) 6-4, 6-3
6. Stefan Szacinski (LSU) def. Kyle Koch (SC) 6-3, 6-3