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Oct. 26, 2012

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – Despite a career-best 12 kills from freshman middle blocker Darian Dozier, South Carolina (15-9, 3-9 SEC) could not overcome Auburn (14-8, 5-7 SEC), as the Tigers took a 25-21, 25-15, 25-19 win on Friday night at the Volleyball Competition Facility.

Dozier had those 12 kills on a .400 hitting percentage. Junior libero Paige Wheeler added 10 digs, while junior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin had 10 kills and two solo blocks, matching her career high.

Sarah Bullock topped Auburn with 13 digs and added 12 kills without an error. Katherine Culwell posted a match-high 14 kills. Camila Jersonsky had nine kills without an error, while Halle Kearney posted seven and hit over .500. The Tigers hit .474 on the night while holding the Gamecocks to a .228 mark.

A one-point set turned into a five-point Auburn lead on Ciara Richards’ serve, helping Auburn to a 25-21 set-one win. Culwell ended the run at 15-10 with two kills, putting the Tigers up for good. South Carolina tried to claw back at 23-18, closing to within two on a four-point run capped by freshman outside hitter Jenna Allen’s ace. But two Gamecock attacking errors ended the frame in the Tigers’ favor. Culwell had five kills in the first, while Dozier and Thévenin had four each for South Carolina.

Auburn claimed the second set, 25-15, behind a stronger defense. The Tigers only allowed consecutive Gamecock points on four occasions in the frame and held South Carolina to a match-low .182 hitting percentage. Bullock had six kills without an error and seven digs in the second, while Jersonsky had five on five swings, including the set clincher.

A lineup change helped the Gamecocks in the third set, but a seven-point Tiger run turned the momentum to Auburn in the 25-19 match-clinching third set. Moving redshirt sophomore Cara Howley to the opposite spot helped the Gamecocks take a 11-8 lead, but the Tigers responded with the stand, powered by four Culwell kills, to take a 15-11 lead, one they would never relinquish. A South Carolina attack error closed the match. Auburn hit .679 in the final set with only one attack error. Culwell had seven kills in the third, while four other Tiger attackers had multiple kills without making an error.

The two teams tied with five blocks each, and the Gamecocks won the ace battle, 3-1. Auburn won the rest of the stat categories.

South Carolina closes the home weekend on Sunday against Texas A&M, with first serve scheduled for 1:30 p.m. EDT.