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Sept. 20, 2013

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina volleyball team opened the Carolina Classic in strong fashion on Friday night with a sweep of Western Carolina by the scores of 25-18, 25-18 and 25-19 in front of a crowd of 903 at the Volleyball Competition Facility.

The Gamecocks (6-4) were in control for most of the match and kept the Catamounts (8-4) off balance with a stellar attack as they outhit the visitors .316-.142, recording 53 kills to Western Carolina’s 30. South Carolina also held the advantage in assists (50-23), digs (62-43) and blocks (6-3).

“I thought overall we played really, really well,” South Carolina head coach Scott Swanson said. “We played good defense and out-dug them by almost 20 balls. We were very efficient on offense, hitting over .300. Our middles were very involved in transition. They got a lot of kills. We had some kids have some stellar nights. I thought we could have passed a little bit better and served a little bit tougher, but there is always stuff to work on. We are going to keep doing that, but tonight was pretty dominant.”

Senior Juliette Thévenin, freshman Jacqy Angermiller and sophomore Darian Dozier carried the load offensively for South Carolina, combining for 42 kills. Thévenin, who hit .395 for the match, led the way with 20 kills as she moved to fourth on the South Carolina career kills list with 1,306. Angermiller tallied a career-high 12 kills with a hitting percentage of .409 and added four block assists, while Dozier hit a career-best .625 to finish with 10 kills.

Sophomore setter Kellie McNeil had another solid outing for the Gamecocks, coming up just shy of a double-double with 44 assists and nine digs. McNeil was also South Carolina’s second-leading blocker with three. Junior libero Michaela Christiansen anchored the back line with a match-high 17 digs, while freshman Gabrielle Rubeis (11) and senior Lindsey Craft (10) also reached double figures in digs.

Junior middle Addy George paced Western Carolina’s attack with nine kills, while junior outside hitter Jordan Timmerman finished with eight. Senior setter Cristina Nazario distributed 20 assists, and junior Caitlin Piechota finished with 11 digs in the loss.

The Gamecocks and Catamounts traded points early in the first set as the teams played to a 10-10 tie. An Angermiller kill off a set by McNeil sparked a 7-2 run that gave South Carolina a 17-12 lead. The Catamounts pulled to within three at 17-14 on a Gamecock attack error but that was as close as they were able to get the rest of the way. McNeil finished off the set with an ace to give South Carolina a 25-18 win.

South Carolina came out on fire in the second set, scoring the first six points behind four kills from Thévenin. However, Western Carolina made things interesting later in the set, as a kill by Brandi Anderson trimmed the Gamecocks’ lead to 16-14. South Carolina ended any hope of a Catamount comeback by scoring the next five points to build a 21-14 cushion on its way to a 25-18 win. The Gamecocks hit .359 for the set, with Thévenin producing eight kills and Dozier and Angermiller recording four apiece.

Western Carolina hung around late in the third set as well, as a Gamecock attack error shrunk South Carolina’s lead to 21-19. But the Gamecocks closed strong, scoring four straight points to win the set and complete the sweep.

South Carolina will look to keep its momentum going on Saturday with two more matches in the Carolina Classic. The Gamecocks will face Robert Morris at 1 p.m. and Presbyterian at 7 p.m. at the Volleyball Competition Facility.