Sept. 12, 2013
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina volleyball team returns to the road this week as it is set to open play in the Duke Invitational on Friday at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.
The Gamecocks will play Utah State (10 a.m.) and Liberty (5 p.m.) on Friday and Duke (1:30 p.m.) on Saturday.
South Carolina Quick Hits
â€¢ South Carolina enters its third season with head coach Scott Swanson.
â€¢ Last year’s team went 18-14, the program’s second winning season in the last decade and the most wins since 2008 (21).
â€¢ The Gamecocks return five letterwinners from a year ago, including two starters (senior Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin, sophomore Darian Dozier).
â€¢ With the departure of 11 letterwinners, South Carolina lost 97 percent of its production from last season in assists (1,346), 78.1 percent in digs (1,252) and 58.9 percent in kills (876).
â€¢ The 2012 Gamecocks improved their offensive efficiency for the second straight year, raising their hitting percentage 29 points to .255, which ranked third in the SEC.
â€¢ South Carolina returns its leader in kills (Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin, 453) and its second-leading blocker (Darian Dozier, 67).
Last Time Out
After winning the Gamecock Invitational title to open the season, the Gamecocks hit the road to Clemson, S.C., for the Big Orange Bash. South Carolina dropped three close matches, falling to rival Clemson and Winthrop in five sets and Furman in four sets. The Gamecocks are now 3-3 on the season. Senior outside hitter Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin garnered All-Tournament honors after averaging 5.57 kills per set while hitting .322 on the weekend. Sophomore setter Kellie McNeil had a solid weekend as well with an average of 11.3 assists per set, including a double-double against Clemson with 54 assists and 10 digs.
Setting the Scene
South Carolina will look to rebound after losing all three matches at the Big Orange Bash last week to even its record at 3-3. This week’s trip takes the Gamecocks to Durham, N.C., where they will play three matches in the Duke Invitational at historic Cameron Indoor Stadium. South Carolina will face Utah State (10 a.m.) and Liberty (5 p.m.) on Friday and will take on Duke on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Utah State enters the weekend with a 5-2 record. The Lady Flames are 1-6 on the season, while the host Blue Devils are 4-2.
Scouting Utah State
The Aggies enter the weekend with a 5-2 record and have won three straight matches. Both of Utah State’s losses have gone to five sets. Junior outside hitter Rachel Orr has been the go-to option for the Aggies this season. Orr, a first-team All-WAC selection last season, is leading the team in kills, averaging 3.65 per set. She also ranks second on the team in digs with an average of 2.74 per set. Tumua Etimani and Elle Brainard have also been solid options as they average 2.61 and 2.45 kills per set, respectively. Junior Paige Neves has been responsible for setting Orr up for most of her kills. A first-team All-WAC selection last season, Neves is the team’s primary setter, averaging 9.57 assists per set. At the net, senior middle blocker Alyssa Everett has led the way, averaging 1.10 blocks per frame.
Series History vs. Utah State
Friday will be the first-ever meeting between the Gamecocks and Aggies. However, it won’t be the first time Utah State has matched up with an opponent from the SEC. The Aggies are 16-7 all-time against SEC programs.
The Flames are 1-6 heading into Friday’s opening match. Liberty went 25-8 last season, winning the Big South regular-season title for the sixth straight year and the Big South tournament title for the second consecutive season. The Flames return five starters from that team, including Big South Player of the Year Caroline Douglas, three-time All-Big South setter Jade Craycraft and two-time All-Big South outside hitter Lillie Happel. Douglas has not played this season, and in her absence Happel has led the team in kills, averaging 2.62 per set. Craycraft has distributed a team-best 7.32 assists per set, while senior middle blocker Kendle Rollins leads the team in blocks with an average of 1.00 per set. Liberty has been tested early this season with matchups against a pair of top-25 opponents. The Flames lost in three sets to then-No. 23 Ohio State to open the season and dropped a three-set match at No. 21 Kentucky last week.
Series History vs. Liberty
Friday will be South Carolina’s second all-time meeting with Liberty. The Gamecocks won the first meeting in three sets on Sept. 1, 2000.
Duke has posted a 4-2 record this season, going 2-1 in both tournaments it has played in. The Blue Devils went 15-17 last season and have plenty of experience back in 2013 as they return five starters and the libero. Duke’s top offensive performer this year has been sophomore outside hitter Emily Sklar, a 2012 ACC All-Freshman Team selection. Sklar leads the team in kills, averaging 3.87 per set. Duke has four other players averaging two or more digs per set in Jeme Obeime (2.61), Elizabeth Campbell (2.47), Jordan Tucker (2.41) and Chelsea Cook (2.06). The Blue Devils’ primary setter is Maggie Deichmeister. The 6-2 junior is averaging 9.06 assists per set and is second on the team in digs per set (2.22). Cook is also the Blue Devils’ top blocker, averaging 1.00 blocks per set. Freshman Sasha Karelov leads the squad in digs with an average of 4.33 per set.
Series History vs. Duke
Saturday will be the 17th all-time meeting between Duke and South Carolina. The Blue Devils hold a 7-9 advantage in the series. The teams last met on Sept. 10, 2004, a 3-0 Duke win. The Gamecocks have won four out of the last five meetings.
Leaving Her Mark
Senior outside hitter Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin has been a regular in the starting lineup during her Gamecock career and her name will be scattered throughout the school record book when she’s done. ThÃƒÂ©venin currently ranks in the top 10 in five career categories at South Carolina. She is second in kills per set (3.98), fourth in points per set (4.38), fifth in attacks (3,172), fifth in kills (1,241) and ninth in points per set (4.38).
Gamecocks in the SEC/NCAA Stats
Senior outside hitter Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin has had a stellar start to her final year in Garnet and Black as she currently leads the SEC and ranks sixth in the nation in kills with an average of 5.09 per set. ThÃƒÂ©venin, who is hitting .312 on the season, also leads the conference in points per set with an average of 5.35, which ranks 11th nationally. Sophomore middle blocker Darian Dozier is fourth in the conference in blocks with an average of 1.22 per frame. Sophomore setter Kellie McNeil is sixth in the SEC in assists per set (10.41), while junior libero Michaela Christiaansen is 10th in digs per set (3.70).
Through two weeks of the regular season, South Carolina has become very familiar with the tournament setting. The Gamecocks have played in two tournaments to date (Gamecock Invitational and Big Orange Bash) and will have play in four tournaments before conference play begins, including this weekend’s Duke Invitational. It’s the most tournaments a South Carolina team has played in before conference play since 2003, when the Gamecocks played in four that season.
The Gamecocks have played in two tournaments this season and have been well represented during the post tournament awards ceremonies. Senior Juliette ThÃƒÂ©venin was named MVP of the Gamecock Invitational, while sophomore Kellie McNeil earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team. ThÃƒÂ©venin was also named to the All-Tournament Team at the Big Orange Bash.
This year’s South Carolina squad doesn’t have a lot of familiarity to it, as only five letterwinners return from a year ago. Head coach Scott Swanson brought in 12 newcomers this season, including a freshman class of 10 players. The Gamecocks have received some immediate help from transfers Kellie McNeil (Minnesota) and Michaela Christiaansen (Pepperdine).
â€¢ South Carolina holds a 727-558 (.566) record.
â€¢ The Gamecocks are 192-218 (.468) in SEC play.
â€¢ In matches played at the Volleyball Competition Facility, South Carolina is 151-76 (.665).