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Sept. 26, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina volleyball team will open its SEC schedule this weekend with a pair of road matches.

The Gamecocks will face Missouri (15-0) on Friday 7:30 p.m. at Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo., and will close out the weekend on Sunday in a match with Tennessee (8-6) at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn.

Friday: at Missouri, 7 p.m. |
Sunday: at Tennessee, 1:30 p.m. |
On Twitter: @GamecockVolley
Weekend Notes

South Carolina Quick Hits
• South Carolina enters its third season with head coach Scott Swanson.
• Last year’s team went 18-14, the program’s second winning season in the last decade and the most wins since 2008 (21).
• The Gamecocks return five letterwinners from a year ago, including two starters (senior Juliette Thévenin, sophomore Darian Dozier).
• 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).
• 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.
• South Carolina returns its leader in kills (Juliette Thévenin, 453) and its second-leading blocker (Darian Dozier, 67).

Last Time Out
The Gamecocks closed out their preseason tournament schedule with three wins over the weekend to claim the Carolina Classic title. South Carolina swept Western Carolina and Presbyterian and defeated Robert Morris in four sets to improve to 8-4 heading into conference play. As a team the Gamecocks hit .306 for the weekend while holding their opponents to a .115 hitting percentage. Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin was named Tournament MVP after averaging 5.70 kills per set while hitting .436. Sophomore Darian Dozier earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team, finishing the weekend with an average of 2.30 kills per set with a hitting percentage of .429 and a team-best average of 1.40 blocks per set. Sophomore setter Kellie McNeil averaged 11.6 assists, 1.90 digs and 1.10 blocks per set for the weekend, while freshman middle Jacqy Angermiller had another strong showing, averaging 2.80 kills and 1.30 blocks per set.

Gamecocks in SEC Openers
Friday’s match at Missouri will be South Carolina’s 23rd SEC opener. The Gamecocks have compiled a 12-10 all-time record in SEC openers, including last year’s sweep of Georgia at the Volleyball Competition Facility. South Carolina is 6-4 when beginning SEC play on the road. Its last win in a road opener was a sweep of LSU on Sept. 26, 2003. The Gamecocks are 1-1 in SEC openers under head coach Scott Swanson.

Scouting Missouri
Missouri enters Friday’s matchup as the only undefeated team in the SEC and is one of only seven unbeatens nationally. The Tigers are off to a 15-0 start, their best since opening the 1982 season at 19-0. Missouri is one of the most experienced teams in the conference as it returns six starters from last season’s squad that went 19-12 overall and 10-10 in the SEC. Offensively, the Tigers have been among the best in the nation, ranking first in hitting percentage (.393), second in assists per set (14.47) and fifth in kills per set (15.23). Senior outside hitter Lisa Henning, a preseason All-SEC selection, has been the go-to option for the Tigers as she ranks second in the SEC in both kills (4.49) and points per set (5.10). Junior middle blocker Whitney Little has also been a key contributor offensively as she leads the nation with a .592 hitting percentage and averages 2.38 kills per set. Senior setter Molly Kreklow, a preseason All-SEC selection, currently leads the country in assists per set with an average of 12.70. Defensively, freshman Emily Thater ranks ninth in the SEC with an average of 1.14 blocks per set.

Wayne Kreklow is the head coach of the Tigers. Kreklow is in his 14th season at Missouri, including his ninth as head coach. He has compiled a 168-98 record during his time with the Tigers.

Series History vs. Missouri
Friday is the second all-time meeting between Missouri and South Carolina. Missouri won last year’s matchup in three sets on Nov. 2 in Columbia, Mo.

Last Time vs. Missouri – Nov. 2, 2012
The Gamecocks lost in three sets by the scores of 22-25, 19-25 and 26-28 in their first-ever meeting with Missouri last season at Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo. Juliette Thévenin led the way as she came up just shy of a double-double with 17 kills and nine digs.

Scouting Tennessee
Tennessee enters the weekend with an 8-6 record. The Lady Vols return only their libero from last year’s squad that went 22-8 overall and 15-5 in conference play to earn a NCAA Tournament berth. Senior libero Ellen Mullins has been the leader of a team that has only three letterwinners back from a year ago. Mullins has been solid anchoring Tennessee’s back line as she leads the nation in digs per set with an average of 6.29. Freshman outside hitter Jamie Lea has taken the role as Tennessee’s leading offensive weapon as she leads the team and ranks 14th in the SEC in kills, averaging 3.38 per set. Freshman Ashley Mariani (2.87 kills per set) and senior Whitney Heeres (2.08 kills per set) have also been solid options for the Lady Vols. Sophomore Lexi Dempsey has been Tennessee’s go-to setter as she leads the team and ranks ninth in the conference in assists per set with an average of 9.33. Freshman Raina Hembry has been Tennessee’s most consistent blocker, averaging 0.95 blocks per set.

Rob Patrick is in his 16th season as head coach of the Lady Vols. Patrick has compiled a 350-168 record at Tennessee.

Series History vs. Tennessee
South Carolina is 25-33 all-time against Tennessee. The Gamecocks have lost nine straight matches to the Lady Vols, with their last win being a 3-0 victory on Oct. 10, 2008. South Carolina is 9-19 in matches played at Tennessee. The Gamecocks’ last win in Knoxville was on Nov. 8, 2002.

Last Time vs. Tennessee – Nov. 11, 2012
The Gamecocks fell in three sets to the Lady Vols at the Volleyball Competition Facility by the scores of 25-27, 16-25 and 18-25. Juliette Thévenin led the Gamecocks with 10 kills and seven digs, while Lindsey Craft added eight digs and Darian Dozier finished with a team-high two blocks.

Thévenin Garners SEC Honor
Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin was named this week’s SEC Offensive Player of the Week. Thévenin earned the award for the third time in her career after leading the Gamecocks to three wins to claim the Carolina Classic title over the weekend. Thévenin, who was named tournament MVP, averaged 5.70 kills per set while hitting .436 for the tournament and averaged 6.00 points and 2.40 digs per set. In South Carolina’s win over Western Carolina, she recorded 20 kills, the most in the league in three sets this season. She hit a career-best .571 to finish with 26 kills in a four-set victory over Robert Morris.

Leaving Her Mark
Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin 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. She is currently in the top-10 in five career categories, ranking fourth in kills (1,343), second in kills per set (4.03), fourth in attacks (3,425), sixth in points (1,477.0) and tied for third in points per set (4.44). On the season she is averaging a league-best 4.98 kills and 5.31 points per set. For a complete list of career records see page eight.

Gamecocks in the SEC/NCAA Stats
Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin has had a stellar start to her final year in Garnet and Black as she currently leads the SEC and ranks fifth in the nation in kills with an average of 4.98 per set. Thévenin, who is hitting .295 on the season, also leads the conference in points per set with an average of 5.10, which ranks ninth nationally. Sophomore middle blocker Darian Dozier has been one of the best blockers in the league as she ranks third in the conference in blocks with an average of 1.25 per frame. Sophomore setter Kellie McNeil is sixth in the SEC in assists per set (10.51), while junior libero Michaela Christiaansen is sixth in digs per set (4.07). Senior Lindsey Craft has also made it on the SEC stats leaders list as she ranks 18th in digs with an average of 2.88. As a team, South Carolina is in the top half of the SEC in two categories, ranking fifth in hitting percentage (.264) and fifth in blocks (2.44).

Filling a Need
Freshman middle blocker Jacqy Angermiller has stepped into the lineup and made her presence felt at the net after missing the first six matches of the season with an injury. Angermiller came up big at the Duke Invitational, averaging a team-best 1.70 blocks per set. She posted a season-high nine blocks to lead the team against Duke. On the season she is averaging 2.30 kills per set while hitting .343 and is averaging 1.50 blocks per set.

(Recent) Home Tournament History
South Carolina has held a home tournament every year since 2000 except for 2001 and 2005. Under Scott Swanson, the Gamecocks are 14-0 in tournaments held at home. South Carolina’s last loss at home in a tournament was a 3-0 setback against Lipscomb in the Gamecock Invitational on Sept. 11, 2010.

Tourney Toughness
The Gamecocks played in four preseason tournaments this season, the Gamecock Invitational, Big Orange Bash, Duke Invitational and Carolina Classic. 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. South Carolina won the Gamecock Invitational and Carolina Classic titles.

Accumulating Hardware vThe Gamecocks have played in four preseason tournaments this season and have been well represented during the tournament awards ceremonies. Senior Juliette Thévenin was named MVP of the Gamecock Invitational and the Carolina Classic. Sophomore Kellie McNeil earned a spot on the Gamecock Invitational All-Tournament Team. Thévenin was also named to the All-Tournament Team at the Big Orange Bash. At the Duke Invitational, McNeil and sophomore Darian Dozier each earned a sport on the All-Tournament Team. Dozier was also named to the Carolina Classic All-Tournament Team.

Thévenin Named Preseason All-SEC
Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin was named to the Preseason All-SEC squad. Thévenin, a second-team All-SEC selection in 2012, looks to close out her Gamecock career in strong fashion after ranking second in SEC play in both kills per set (4.40) and points per set (4.81) a year ago.

New Faces
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).

All-Time Records
South Carolina holds a 732-559 (.567) record. The Gamecocks are 192-218 (.468) in SEC play. In matches played at the Volleyball Competition Facility, South Carolina is 154-76 (.670).