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Nov. 14, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. — After playing at fifth-ranked Florida on Wednesday, the South Carolina volleyball team returns home this weekend for a pair of SEC matches, including one against another top-10 opponent.

The Gamecocks (12-14, 3-10 SEC) will face Alabama (20-7, 7-5) on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Volleyball Competition Facility. South Carolina will close out the weekend against No. 7 Missouri (29-0, 13-0). First serve against the Tigers is set for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.

Friday: vs. Alabama, 7 p.m. | | Live Video
Sunday: vs. No. 7 Missouri, 1:30 p.m. | | Live Video
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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 dropped a three-set decision at No. 5 Florida in a nationally televised SEC matchup on ESPNU. The Gators won the sets by the scores of 25-15, 25-9 and 25-22 at the O’Connell Center. With the loss, South Carolina is now 12-14 on the season and 3-10 in the SEC. After missing the previous two matches, senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin returned to lead the way, finishing with a team-high eight kills, five digs and two blocks. Sophomore Sarah Blomgren added five kills. Making her third-straight start, freshman setter Helen Récaborde distributed 21 assists. Florida finished the night with the advantage in hitting (.372-.059), kills (45-24) and digs (39-26).

Scouting Alabama
Alabama has reached 20 wins for the first time since 2005 and enters Friday’s match with a 20-7 overall record and a 7-5 mark in SEC play, which has the program fourth in the SEC standings. Alabama has won seven of its last 10 matches. The Crimson Tide ranks in the top 30 nationally in three statistical categories, ranking 23rd in hitting (.268), 26th in assists (13.20) and 29th in kills (14.07). Freshman middle blocker Krystal Rivers has stood out for Alabama this season, ranking third in the SEC in hitting (.434), fifth in kills (3.68) and 18th in blocks (0.86). Sophomore Sierra Wilson has proven to be one of the best setters in the league as she ranks second in the conference and sixth nationally with an average of 11.96 assists per set. Anchoring the Crimson Tide back line, sophomore libero Kryssi Daniels averages a team-best 3.23 digs per set, which ranks 12th in the SEC.

Series History vs. Alabama
Friday’s matchup will be the 42nd between South Carolina and Alabama. The Crimson Tide holds a 23-18 lead in the all-time series. The teams have alternated wins in the last six meetings. The Gamecocks are 11-6 all-time at home against Alabama.

Last Time vs. Alabama – Nov. 16, 2012
South Carolina took down the Crimson Tide in five sets at Foster Auditorium by the scores of 25-20, 25-12, 17-25, 20-25 and 15-7. Juliette Thévenin had a huge night, recording 27 kills, 16 digs and six blocks, including four solo blocks. The Gamecocks finished the night with the advantage in kills (59-53), hitting (.191-.108), digs (91-84) and blocks (12-11).

Scouting No. 7 Missouri
The Tigers enter the weekend as one of only two unbeaten teams in the nation with a 29-0 overall record. Missouri sits atop the SEC standings with a 13-0 league record. The Tigers have been the best in the country offensively, as they rank first in the nation in hitting (.360), assists (14.57) and kills (15.34). Senior outside hitter Lisa Henning has been Missouri’s top offensive weapon, as she ranks second in the conference and 25th nationally in kills per set with an average of 4.27. Henning is the SEC’s active career kills leader with 1,701, which ranks fourth nationally among active players. Junior middle blocker Whitney Little, who ranks second nationally in hitting percentage (.493), averages 2.38 kills per set and also leads the team in blocking with an average of 1.24 blocks per set, the second best average in the league. Freshman Carly Kan has been a stellar addition for the Tigers as she averages 3.20 kills per set (.361) and is second on the team in digs per set (2.62). A lot of Missouri’s success on offense can be credited to senior setter Molly Kreklow. Kreklow leads the SEC and ranks second nationally with an average of 12.67 assists per set. Junior libero Sarah Meister has been the Tigers’ anchor on the back line as she averages 3.81 digs per set.

Series History vs. Missouri
The Gamecocks and Tigers will be meeting for the third time on Sunday. Missouri has won the previous two meetings, both three-set decisions. Sunday will be the first time the teams play at the Volleyball Competition Facility.

Last Time vs. Missouri – Sept. 27, 2013
The Gamecocks dropped a three-set decision to the Tigers earlier this season. Missouri won the sets by the scores of 25-16, 25-14 and 25-18 at the Hearnes Center. Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin led the Gamecocks with 10 kills. Freshman Dessaa Legros added seven kills. Missouri hit .559 for the match, while South Carolina hit just .132.

Welcoming Back the Alumni
This weekend is alumni weekend for the South Carolina volleyball program, and several former players will be back in Columbia to take in the action, including: Stephanie (Pflughaupt) Parker (1986-89), Kendyl Schaefer (1986-88), Ashley (Edlund) Heitdke (1995-98), Cindy Robarge-Esposito (1995-98), Crystal Moore Gillespie (1997-99), Sara (Heri) Pringle (1997-2001), Mandy (Quarterman) Williams (1997-2000) and Liz (Price) Brewer (1998-2002).

Schedule Strengthens Down the Stretch
The Gamecocks will have one of the toughest Novembers of any team in the SEC. All eight teams on South Carolina’s schedule this month are in the latest RPI top 50. Florida comes in at No. 4, followed by No. 6 Missouri, No. 9 Kentucky, No. 27 LSU, No. 31 Georgia, No. 34 Alabama, No. 36 Arkansas and No. 46 Texas A&M.

Gamecocks Look to Improve vs. Ranked Opponents
The Gamecocks are 8-98 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.

Season Records Watch
Several Gamecocks have broken into the top five in South Carolina’s rally-scoring era regular-season records. Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin’s 416 kills currently rank third all-time, while her kills per set average of 4.78 ranks second. Sophomore middle blocker Darian Dozier is tied for the second most block assists in history (99) and is tied for the fourth most total blocks in school history (106). Freshman middle blocker Jacqy Angermiller’s blocks per set average of 1.15 is currently tied for the fourth best average in school history.

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 (4.78) and points (5.13) per set. In SEC matches only, Thévenin ranks first in kills (4.53) and second in points (4.89). Freshman middle blocker Jacqy Angermiller is one of three Gamecocks ranked in the top 20 in blocks as she ranks fifth with an average of 1.15 per set. Sophomore middle blocker Darian Dozier ranks sixth (1.14), and sophomore setter Kellie McNeil is 15th (0.94). McNeil is also sixth in the SEC in assists per set (10.17), while junior libero Michaela Christiaansen is tied for ninth in digs per set (3.78).

And in the NCAA Stats
One Gamecock ranks in the top 10 nationally in two categories in the latest NCAA statistics report. Senior Juliette Thévenin ranks fourth in kills per set (4.86) and ninth in points per set (5.20).

Reaching a Milestone
In South Carolina’s match against Auburn (10/27), 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 1,540 kills.

Closing in on the 1,000-1,000 Club
Senior Juliette Thévenin is close to reaching another milestone. Entering the weekend, she has 1,540 kills and 977 digs for her career. With 23 digs over the final five 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 (1,540), second in kills per set (4.10), second in attacks (3,931), fourth in points (1,689.5) and third in points per set (4.49). On the season she is averaging a league-best 4.78 kills and 5.13 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 1,540, trailing only Missouri’s Lisa Henning (1,701). 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.

Huge Loss
The Gamecocks will be without the services of sophomore setter Kellie McNeil (foot) for the remainder of the season. McNeil has been one of South Carolina’s most versatile players. A transfer from Minnesota, she was 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.

Making Their First Starts
Freshman setter Helen Récaborde and freshman outside hitter KoKo Atoa-Williams made their first career start for the Gamecocks last weekend. Both Récaborde and Atoa-Williams started for South Carolina in Friday’s match at Kentucky. Récaborde also started Sunday’s match at Georgia.

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 .186 in losses. Opponents are hitting .145 in Gamecock wins and .281 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 getting out-blocked 2.1-2.0 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.

Sophomore Darian Dozier has been a force in the middle for South Carolina. She 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 2.06 kills per set and ranks sixth in the SEC with an average of 1.14 blocks per set. She also leads the team in hitting with a percentage of .307, which ranks 17th 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 1.65 kills per set and 1.15 blocks per set, which ranks fifth 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.

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 36th nationally and fifth in the SEC.

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 only had one match televised this season, its three-set loss at No. 5 Florida on Nov. 13 on ESPNU. The Gamecocks are now 13-17 all-time in television games.

All-Time Records
• South Carolina holds a 736-569 (.564) record.
• The Gamecocks are 195-228 (.461) in SEC play.
• In matches played at the Volleyball Competition Facility, South Carolina is 156-81 (.658).