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Aug 24, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina volleyball team got its first taste of playing in a game-like situation on Saturday as it wrapped up the week with the annual Garnet & Black scrimmage at the Volleyball Competition Facility.

The teams played to a 2-2 draw in front of several hundred Gamecock fans, with the Garnet Team winning sets one (25-20) and three (25-22) and the Black Team claiming sets two (25-21) and four (28-26).

After watching his squad go through two weeks of preseason practice, South Carolina head coach Scott Swanson was pleased with the progress he saw from his young team on Saturday.

“I saw a lot of good things,” Swanson said. “I thought that our serve-receive improved as the match went on. I thought we served very tough and put pressure on our passers on both sides of the net. That was really good to see because that’s a priority in our gym. Really just the way they competed was exciting. They went for balls and covered our hitters and were all over the floor. The effort level and the way we competed was really fun to see.”

Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin tallied 25 kills to lead the Garnet Team, while sophomore Sarah Blomgren added 15 kills. Freshman setter Helen Récaborde produced a double-double with 42 assists and 10 digs, and junior libero Michaela Christiaansen added a match-high 21 digs.

For the Black Team, freshman Dessaa Legros had a solid debut with a team-high 16 kills. Freshman KoKo Atoa-Williams came through with a double-double, finishing with 13 kills and 12 digs, and sophomore Elizabeth Johnbull added 11 kills and six block assists. Sophomore setter Kellie McNeil pitched in a double-double with 42 assists and 14 digs.

The Garnet Team built a 19-10 lead in the first set, but the Black went on a 9-2 run to cut its deficit to 21-19 on a kill by Legros. However, Thévenin powered her team to the win by producing three kills to lead a 4-1 run to close out the set.

In the second set, the teams played to a 13-13 tie before the Black team went on a 9-2 run to take a 22-15 lead. The Garnet pulled to as close as three points down the stretch, but Legros delivered a kill off an assist from McNeil to lift Black to a 25-21 win.

Garnet held the lead for a majority of the third set and seemed to be on its way to the win after a Thévenin kill gave it a 24-19 lead. The Black Team reeled off three straight points to pull to within 24-22, but freshman Erin Neuenfeldt then scored the decisive point for Garnet with a kill.

The teams battled back and forth in the fourth set and played to a 26-26 tie before the Black Team claimed the win by scoring the final two points off a ball handling error and an attack error by Garnet.

The Gamecocks will now turn their focus to preparing for next weekend’s Gamecock Invitational. South Carolina will host South Carolina State, Florida International and High Point next Friday and Saturday to open the 2013 campaign. The first match of the invitational will be between the Gamecocks and South Carolina State at 10 a.m. on Friday at the Volleyball Competition Facility. Season tickets for South Carolina’s home dates are on sale. Adult season tickets are $25, while youth 17 and under can get their tickets for $10. For more information, contact the South Carolina Ticket Office at 800-4SC-FANS or visit the ticket office homepage at