Sept. 28, 2012
COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina (13-3, 2-3 SEC) showed its fighting spirit Friday night against No. 12 Florida (10-2, 4-0 SEC), but the Gators came away with a hard-fought four-set win 25-14, 25-23, 21-25, 25-17, in front of 1,031 fans at the Volleyball Competition Facility on Friday night.
The Gators’ Chloe Mann posted 20 kills on a .621 hitting percentage in the contest, while Ziva Recek added 12 kills and nine digs. Tangerine Wiggs had 10 kills on a .500 percentage to go with a match-best five blocks. Taylor Unroe added 17 digs, and Madison Monserez had 10.
Gamecock sophomore outside hitter Bethanie Thomas posted 14 kills on a .444 hitting percentage and added nine digs on the night. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Cara Howley had 16 points on 12 kills, two aces and three blocks, one of those solo. She hit .400 in the contest. Freshman outside hitter Jenna Allen had the best offensive night of her young career, posting 10 kills on a .412 hitting percentage. Senior setter Taylor Bruns tied Howley with two aces and compiled 45 assists and eight digs. Junior libero Paige Wheeler had 10 digs.
The Gators took the first set 25-14, hitting .519 in the frame with only one error as a team. Recek did the most damage, with five kills on 10 swings. Mann had four kills in the same number of swings, while the Gators only made one attacking error in the frame. Redshirt freshman Christina Vereb had three of the Gamecocks’ kills in the first.
A close second set tipped Florida’s way 25-23. South Carolina held a lead as late as 14-12 before the Gators swung the momentum with a four-point run capped by Taylor Brauneis’s ace to hand UF a 16-14 lead. The Gamecocks tied it back up at 16-16 thanks to a kill and ace from Howley, but the Gators used two South Carolina attacking errors to take the lead for good at 18-16. Mann had the last two kills for the Gators, part of her eight without an error in the frame. Howley landed four kills on four swings for the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks took the third set 25-21 behind Thomas’s stellar offense. The sophomore had eight kills without an error in the frame, and her serve helped South Carolina stake a 12-5 advantage early in the set. Thomas’s serves helped make up the back half of a 10-1 skein for the Gamecocks, with Thomas posting three kills early during junior Lindsey Craft’s serves, and Howley added three more with two block assists in the sequence. The Gators drew within two at 13-11 on Holly Pole’s serve, as Wiggs landed three kills and Pole posted an ace in the five-point Florida run. But South Carolina kept Florida at bay, with Howley ending the set with a solo block. South Carolina hit .361 in the third while holding the Gators to a .188 mark.
Florida rebounded in the fourth set, claiming it 25-17 behind a .552 hitting percentage. Recek had seven kills and Mann five in the final frame. Allen had five kills on six swings for the Gamecocks. The Gators ran out to an 11-3 advantage and never looked back. South Carolina had one three-point run, bookended by Howley kills.
The two teams both had four aces and 11 service errors on the night. The Gators won the other statistical categories, including a .410-.260 advantage in hitting percentage. The 1,031 fans in attendance is the second-largest crowd this year for the Gamecocks at the VCF and the third over 1,000 this season.
South Carolina closes the weekend with a Sunday showdown against Ole Miss. First serve is set for 1:30 p.m. at the VCF, and the first 50 children ages 12 and under will receive a free water bottle in honor of International Fitness Day.