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Nov. 21, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. — With regular-season play winding down, the South Carolina volleyball team is set for its final weekend matches of the season.

The Gamecocks (12-16, 3-12 SEC) will hit the road for a matchup at Arkansas (14-12, 7-8) on Friday at 8 p.m. South Carolina will then return home for a Senior Day match against LSU (16-10, 6-8) on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Volleyball Competition Facility.

Friday: at Arkansas, 8 p.m. | Live Stats | Live Video
Sunday: vs. LSU, 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 three-set decisions to Alabama and No. 7 Missouri over the weekend at the Volleyball Competition Facility. South Carolina fell to the Crimson Tide by the scores of 28-26, 25-23 and 25-18. The Tigers defeated the Gamecocks 25-13, 25-12 and 25-16. South Carolina is now 12-16 on the season and 3-12 in the SEC. Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin paced the Gamecocks in both matches, recording 18 kills and 11 digs against Alabama and 10 kills against the Tigers. Thévenin finished the weekend 10 digs shy of becoming just the second Gamecock to join the 1,000-1,000 club. She currently has 1,568 kills and 990 digs for her career.

Scouting Arkansas
The Razorbacks enter Friday’s matchup with a 14-12 overall record and a 7-8 mark in SEC play and are No. 40 in the latest NCAA RPI rankings. Arkansas is 3-7 in its last 10 matches, including four-set losses last weekend at Alabama and at Auburn. New Mexico State transfer Meredith Hays, a junior outside hitter, has been the top offensive option for the Razorbacks this season. Hays ranks fourth in the conference with an average of 3.96 kills per set. She has posted nine double-doubles on the season. Senior setters Raymariely Santos and Ashley Vasquez have been solid for Arkansas, averaging 6.26 and 5.27 assists per set, respectively. Santos has recorded eight double-doubles on the season and one triple-double. Defensively, Arkansas has been one of the better blocking teams in the league, ranking fourth in the SEC with an average of 2.40 blocks per set. Freshman middle blocker Ana Sofia Jusino has been the Razorbacks’ top defender at the net, averaging 1.09 blocks per set, which ranks eighth in the SEC. Sophomore Summer Morgan is also in the top 20, ranking 13th (0.95) in blocks. Anchoring the back line, senior libero Emily Helm is fourth in the SEC with an average of 4.52 digs per set.

Series History vs. Arkansas
The Gamecocks and Razorbacks will be meeting for the 32nd time on Friday. Arkansas holds a 21-10 lead in the all-time series. The Gamecocks are 3-7 in their last 10 matches against the Razorbacks. South Carolina is 4-10 all-time against Arkansas in Fayetteville. The Gamecocks’ last road win in the series was a five-set decision on Sept. 28, 2008.

Last Time vs. Arkansas – Oct. 4, 2013
South Carolina suffered a heartbreaking five-set loss to Arkansas in the first matchup earlier this season. The Razorbacks won by the scores of 25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 25-23 and 15-12. The Gamecocks led 9-5 in the fifth set, but Arkansas went on a 7-0 run to take the lead for good. Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin paced the Gamecocks with a double-double, finishing with 18 kills and 13 digs. Sophomore setter Kellie McNeil also had a double-double with 42 assists and 13 digs. South Carolina held the advantage in blocks (12-9), while the Razorbacks had the edge in hitting (.193-.148), kills (62-53) and digs (78-71).

Scouting LSU
The Tigers head into the weekend at 16-10 overall and 6-8 in the SEC and are ranked No. 34 in the latest NCAA RPI rankings. LSU is 3-7 in its last 10 matches. The Tigers defeated Tennessee (3-2) and lost to Auburn (3-2) and Texas A&M (3-0) last week. LSU has been one of the best defensive teams in the league, ranking first in blocks per set (2.80) and opponent hitting percentage (.186). Freshman middle blocker Briana Holman is a big reason why the Tigers have been so disruptive at the net as she averages a league-best 1.58 blocks per set, which ranks fifth nationally. Holman also ranks seventh in the SEC in points per set (3.98), 12th in hitting (.326) and 15th in kills per set (3.06). Sophomore outside hitter Cati Leak has been the team’s top attacker, averaging 3.06 kills per set, while junior setter Malorie Pardo ranks fifth in the SEC in assists (10.87). Sophomore libero Haley Smith has been the anchor of the Tigers’ back line, averaging 3.83 digs per set.

Series History vs. LSU
Sunday’s matchup will be the 33rd all-time between South Carolina and LSU. The Tigers hold a 19-13 lead in the series and have won eight of the last 10 meetings. The Gamecocks are 7-8 all-time in home matches against the Tigers. South Carolina’s last win over LSU was a five-set decision on Sept. 23, 2012 in Columbia.

Last Time vs. LSU – Oct. 7, 2012
South Carolina dropped a three-set decision at LSU in their second match last season. The Tigers won by the scores of 29-27, 25-23 and 25-12. Juliette Thévenin had a double-double to lead the Gamecocks, posting 18 kills and 12 digs.

Senior Salute
Sunday’s match against LSU will be the final home match for seniors Juliette Thévenin and Lindsey Craft. Both Thévenin and Craft have played key roles for he Gamecocks the last four years and were selected to serve as team captains this season. The duo has combined to play in 193 matches and has led South Carolina to 51 wins during their time in Columbia.

Schedule Strengthens Down the Stretch
The Gamecocks 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. 5 Missouri, No. 9 Kentucky, No. 31 Georgia, No. 33 Alabama, No. 34 LSU, No. 35 Texas A&M and No. 40 Arkansas.

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 444 kills currently rank third all-time, while her kills per set average of 4.77 ranks second. Thévenin is 10 kills away from surpassing her total of 453 from last season for the second most all-time. Sophomore middle blocker Darian Dozier has the second most block assists in a single season (102) and the fourth most total blocks (109). Freshman middle blocker Jacqy Angermiller’s blocks per set average of 1.13 is currently tied for the fifth best average in a season 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 (4.77) and points (5.11) per set. In SEC matches only, Thévenin ranks first in kills (4.55) and in points (4.90). Freshman middle blocker Jacqy Angermiller is one of three Gamecocks ranked in the top 20 in blocks as she ranks sixth with an average of 1.13 per set. Sophomore middle blocker Darian Dozier ranks seventh (1.10), 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 10th in digs per set (3.75).

And in the NCAA Stats
One Gamecock ranks in the top 15 nationally in two categories in the latest NCAA statistics report. Senior Juliette Thévenin ranks sixth in kills per set (4.77) and 14th in points per set (5.11).

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 1,568 kills.

Closing in on the 1,000-1,000 Club
Senior Juliette Thévenin is close to reaching another milestone. Entering the weekend, she has 1,568 kills and 990 digs for her career. With 10 digs over the final three 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 (1,568), second in kills per set (4.10), second in attacks (3,999), fourth in points (1,719.0) and third in points per set (4.50). 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 1,568, trailing only Missouri’s Lisa Henning (1,715). She is ninth in career kills and eighth kills per set (4.10) among active Division I players. Her career average ranks 14th among all divisions, while her career kills total is 22nd 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 had 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 will 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 during the Kentucky-Georgia road trip. 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 .174 in losses. Opponents are hitting .145 in Gamecock wins and .288 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 0.5 in losses.

Block Party
South Carolina is 10-5 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 2.1-1.9 in losses.

Seeing Double
Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin leads the team with eight double-doubles this season. Thévenin has 40 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 2.04 kills per set and ranks seventh in the SEC with an average of 1.10 blocks per set. She also leads the team in hitting with a percentage of .296, 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 1.62 kills per set and 1.13 blocks per set, which ranks sixth 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 10 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 10 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 14,796 fans attending 15 matches this season, breaking the previous record of 11,787 in 17 matches in 2012. The average of 986 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 33rd nationally and fourth 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 736-571 (.563) record.
• The Gamecocks are 195-230 (.459) in SEC play.
• In matches played at the Volleyball Competition Facility, South Carolina is 156-83 (.653).