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Nov. 7, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. — After an off weekend, the South Carolina volleyball team returns to SEC play this week with a pair of contests on the road.

The Gamecocks will play No. 20 Kentucky on Friday at 7 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky., and will close out the weekend with a matchup against Georgia on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Ramsey Center in Athens, Ga.

Friday: at No. 20 Kentucky, 7 p.m. | | Live Video ($)/Free Audio
Sunday: at Georgia, 1:30 p.m. | | Live Video
On Twitter: @GamecockVolley
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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 won their only match last week, defeating Coastal Carolina in five sets by the scores of 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 22-25 and 15-13. With the win South Carolina improved its record to 12-11 overall. Sophomore setter Kellie McNeil led the way as she came up one block shy of a triple double, finishing with 52 assists, 12 digs, a career-high nine blocks and six kills (.400). Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin delivered her seventh double-double of the season, posting 25 kills and 13 digs. Her 26.5 points moved her to fourth on the Gamecocks’ career points list with 1,680.5.

Scouting No. 20 Kentucky
The Wildcats enter the weekend third in the SEC standings with an 8-3 conference record and a 16-6 overall record. Kentucky has gone 3-2 since its first matchup with the Gamecocks on Oct. 13. The Wildcats are 10-1 at Memorial Coliseum, with their lone loss being 3-0 to Pepperdine on Sept. 13. Kentucky has been one of the most efficient offenses in the league this season, ranking fourth in the SEC with a hitting percentage of .255. Senior outside hitter Whitney Billings, a first-team All-SEC selection in 2012, has been the leader of the Wildcats’ offense, leading the team and ranking sixth in the SEC in kills per set (3.63). Sophomore setter Morgan Bergren has played a key role in the Wildcats’ offensive success, averaging 10.66 assists per set. Kentucky has also been a force defensively, ranking third in the conference in blocks per set (2.59). The middle blocker duo of senior Alexandra Morgan and sophomore Sara Schwrzwalder have been stellar for the Wildcats, averaging 1.11 and 1.08 blocks per set, respectively. Those numbers rank seventh and eighth in the SEC. Junior Jackie Napper has been the anchor of Kentucky’s back line as she averages 3.82 digs per set.

Series History vs. Kentucky
Friday’s matchup will be the 48th all-time between South Carolina and Kentucky. The Wildcats hold a 29-18 lead in the series, including wins in the last four meetings. The Gamecocks are 1-9 in their last 10 matchups with the Wildcats. South Carolina’s last win over Kentucky was a 3-0 victory at the Volleyball Competition Facility on Oct. 22, 2010. The Gamecocks are 6-18 all-time in Lexington, with their last win at Kentucky being a 3-1 victory on Nov. 5, 2003.

Last Time vs. Kentucky – Oct. 13, 2013
The Gamecocks dropped a three-set decision to the Wildcats earlier this season by the scores of 25-13, 25-22 an 25-23. South Carolina led late in both the second (20-19) and third (21-20) sets, but Kentucky rallied both times. Senior Juliette Thévenin led the way with nine kills and six digs, while Darian Dozier hit .385 to record eighth kills and added three blocks. Junior libero Michaela Christiaansen collected a match-high 21 digs.

Scouting Georgia
The Bulldogs have been one of the most improved teams in the SEC this season, surpassing last year’s win total (14) by three. Georgia is fifth in the SEC standings with a 17-7 overall record and a 7-5 mark in conference play. The Bulldogs have gone 3-4 since their first matchup with South Carolina on Oct. 11. Georgia has spread the wealth offensively this season in its 6-2 system, with four players averaging more than two kills per set. Senior outside hitter Brittany Northcutt has led the way, averaging 2.68 kills per set, while junior outside hitter Inutiraha Le’au (2.40), junior middle Lauren Teknipp (2.39) and senior right side Stacey Smith (2.36) all average more than two per frame. Junior setter Kaylee Kehoe leads the way in assists with an average of 6.18 per set, while sophomore setter Maggie Baumert is averaging 4.64 per set. Defensively, senior middle blocker Elena Perri ranks 12th in the SEC, averaging 0.97 blocks per set, while senior libero Allison Summers is fifth in the SEC with an average of 4.46 digs per set.

Series History vs. Georgia
The Gamecocks and Bulldogs will meet for the 65th time on Sunday. Georgia leads the all-time series 46-18. South Carolina is 4-6 in its last 10 meetings with Georgia. The Gamecocks are 7-19 all-time in matches played in Athens. South Carolina’s last win at Georgia was a 3-0 victory on Oct. 16, 2009.

Last Time vs. Georgia – Oct. 11, 2013
The Gamecocks fell in three sets to the Bulldogs by the scores of 25-21, 25-20 and 27-25 at the Volleyball Competition Facility. South Carolina was unable to overcome 11 Bulldog service aces on the night. Senior Juliette Thévenin paced the Gamecocks with 16 kills and eight digs, while freshman Dessaa Legros added nine kills with a .348 hitting percentage. Freshman middle Jacqy Angermiller tallied seven blocks and six kills, and sophomore setter Kellie McNeil distributed a match-high 33 assists.

Gamecocks in the SEC Stats
Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin has been a force for the Garnet and Black this season as she currently leads the SEC in both kills (4.86) and points (5.20) per set. In SEC matches only, Thévenin ranks first in kills (4.69) and first in points (5.06). Freshman middle blocker Jacqy Angermiller is one of three Gamecocks ranked in the top 20 in blocks as she ranks third with an average of 1.22 per set. Sophomore middle blocker Darian Dozier ranks fifth (1.18), and sophomore setter Kellie McNeil is 14th (0.94). McNeil is also sixth in the SEC in assists per set (10.17), while junior libero Michaela Christiaansen is seventh in digs per set (3.92).

And in the NCAA Stats
One Gamecock ranks in the top 50 nationally in the latest NCAA statistics report. Senior Juliette Thévenin is in the top 10 in the nation in two categories, ranking fifth in kills per set (4.86) and 10th in points per set (5.20). Freshman Jacqy Angermiller sits just outside the top 50 in blocks, averaging 1.22 per set.

Schedule Strengthens Down the Stretch
The Gamecocks will have one of the toughest Novembers of any team in the SEC. Of their eight remaining matches, three are against opponents currently ranked in the top 25 in No. 20 Kentucky (11/8), No. 5 Florida (11/13) and No. 7 Missouri (11/17). Seven of the eight are in the RPI top 50, including No. 3 Florida, No. 6 Missouri, No. 12 Kentucky, No. 26 LSU, No. 31 Georgia, No. 34 Arkansas and No. 41 Alabama. The lone team not ranked in the RPI top 50, LSU, comes in at No. 54.

Gamecocks Look to Improve vs. Ranked Opponents
The Gamecocks are 8-96 against ranked opponents since 1991. South Carolina’s last win over a ranked foe was a 3-1 win over No. 6 Florida on Sept. 17, 2006 in Columbia. The Gamecocks have never defeated a ranked SEC opponent on the road. South Carolina’s only road win over a ranked opponent during that time span was a 3-1 victory at No. 14 Notre Dame on Sept. 14, 2003 in the Shamrock Invitational.

Reaching a Milestone
In South Carolina’s match against Auburn, senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin recorded her 1,500th career kill. Thévenin, who reached the milestone with her eighth kill of the match in the second set, ranks third all-time at South Carolina with 1,532 kills.

Closing in on the 1,000-1,000 Club
Senior Juliette Thévenin is close to reaching another milestone. Entering Friday’s match, she has 1,532 kills and 972 digs for her career. With 28 digs over the final eight matches, Thévenin would become just the second Gamecock of record to reach 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career. Amy Iannoccari is the only Gamecock to do so as she recorded 1,231 kills and 1,196 digs for South Carolina from 1991-94.

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 five in five career categories, ranking third in kills (1,532), second in kills per set (4.11), second in attacks (3,902), fourth in points (1,680.5) and third in points per set (4.50). On the season she is averaging a league-best 4.86 kills and 5.20 points per set. For a complete list of career records see page 11.

Among the Active Leaders
Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin is among the active career leaders in kills in the SEC and nationally. She ranks second in the SEC with 1,532, trailing only Missouri’s Lisa Henning (1,672). She is ninth in career kills and eighth kills per set (4.11) among active Division I players. Her career average ranks 14th among all divisions, while her career kills total is 20th among all divisions.

Packing the Stands
Gamecock fans have given South Carolina a huge home-court advantage this season by packing the stands at the Volleyball Competition Facility. The Gamecocks have drawn nine crowds of more than 1,000 this season, which included a VCF-record stretch of seven straight, with the Arkansas (1,405) and Texas A&M (1,430) matches being the high marks. The nine matches of 1,000 or more fans is also a VCF record, breaking the previous mark of four, which was set in the 1996 and 2012 seasons. South Carolina has already set the new total attendance mark for the VCF with 13,015 fans attending 13 matches this season, breaking the previous record of 11,787 in 17 matches in 2012. The average of 1,001 fans per match is also on pace to shatter the VCF average attendance record of 765 from the 2002 season. South Carolina’s average attendance ranks 31st nationally and fourth in the SEC.

Winning the Hitting Battle
When South Carolina out-hits its opponents, it is 11-1 on the season. The Gamecocks’ lone loss when having a better hitting percentage than their opponent was a five-set loss to Winthrop (.219-.144). South Carolina has hit .267 in wins this season and .201 in losses. Opponents are hitting .145 in Gamecock wins and .273 in Gamecock losses.

Reaching .300
The magic hitting number for the Gamecocks this season has been .300. South Carolina is 6-0 on the year when hitting .300 or better.

Getting Served
The Gamecocks are a perfect 6-0 when recording more service aces than their opponents. South Carolina averages 0.9 service aces per set in wins and 0.6 in losses.

Block Party
South Carolina is 10-4 when it finishes with more blocks than its opponent. The Gamecocks out-block the opposition 2.7-1.7 per set in wins and are even at 2.2-2.2 in losses.

Seeing Double
Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin leads the team with seven double-doubles this season. Thévenin has 39 double-doubles for her career, which ranks fourth all-time at South Carolina in records available since 1993.

Doing it All
Sophomore setter Kellie McNeil has been one of South Carolina’s most versatile players this season. A transfer from Minnesota, McNeil is averaging 10.17 assists, 1.96 digs and 0.94 blocks per set this season. McNeil’s blocks per set average is on pace to be the best in school history of record for a setter. She is currently just ahead of former Gamecock Shellie Higgins’ average of 0.92 from the 1983 season.

Sophomore middle blocker Darian Dozier played a key role in the Gamecocks’ 3-1 win over Texas A&M, recording a career-high 18 kills while hitting .571 and finishing with six block assists. On the season Dozier is averaging 2.10 kills per set and ranks fifth in the SEC with an average of 1.18 blocks per set. She also leads the team in hitting with an average of .318, which ranks 14th in the SEC. In Gamecock wins, Dozier has hit a team-best .384.

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 1.68 kills per set and 1.22 blocks per set, which ranks third in the SEC.

Thévenin Garners SEC Honor
Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 23. Thévenin earned the award for the third time in her career after leading the Gamecocks to three wins to claim the Carolina Classic title. 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.

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
The Gamecocks 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).

Youngest in the SEC
South Carolina is the youngest team in the SEC in terms of both underclassmen and freshman. The Gamecocks have 14 underclassmen and 10 freshmen on the roster. Mississippi State is the next closest in underclassmen with 13, while Arkansas has the second most freshmen with eight.

Gamecocks on TV
South Carolina has one match scheduled to be on television this season. The Gamecocks’ match at Florida on Wednesday, Nov. 13 will be televised nationally on ESPNU.

All-Time Records
• South Carolina holds a 736-566 (.565) record.
• The Gamecocks are 195-225 (.464) in SEC play.
• In matches played at the Volleyball Competition Facility, South Carolina is 156-81 (.658).