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Nov. 26, 2013

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina volleyball team will close out its season this week with a midweek matchup at Texas A&M.

First serve is set for 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas.

Wednesday: at Texas A&M, 5 p.m. ET | Live Stats | Live Video
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South Carolina Quick Hits
• South Carolina is in 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 fell in both of their matches over the weekend, losing in three sets at Arkansas (25-13, 25-21, 25-14) and in three sets at home on Sunday to LSU (25-19, 25-21, 25-17). South Carolina is now 12-18 on the season and 3-14 in conference play. Freshman Dessaa Legros paced the Gamecocks offensively in both matches, recording eight kills against the Razorbacks and 11 kills against the Tigers. In Sunday’s Senior Day match with LSU, senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin tallied seven kills and seven digs, coming up on dig shy of 1,000 for her career. If she records a dig in the season finale on Wednesday at Texas A&M, she would become just the second Gamecock of record to have more than 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs in a career.

Scouting Texas A&M
The Aggies enter Wednesday’s match with a 17-11 overall record and a 9-8 mark in the SEC. Texas A&M has been one of the hottest teams in the SEC in November, winning six of its eight matches this month. The Aggies, who are No. 32 in the latest NCAA RPI rankings, split last weekend, losing in straight sets at No. 16 Kentucky and defeating Georgia in five sets. Senior setter Allie Sawatzky has been stellar for the Aggies all season as she leads the conference in double-doubles (19) and triple-doubles (six). Sawatzky is averaging 9.93 assists, 2.28 digs and 2.23 kills per set this season. Sophomore outside hitters Angela Lowak and Sierra Patrick have been a solid one-two punch for Texas A&M. Lowak ranks 15th in the SEC with an average of 3.03 kills per set, while Patrick’s average of 2.87 ranks 17th. Freshman middle blocker Jazzmin Babers has been a force at the net as she ranks second in the SEC with an average of 1.31 blocks per set. Senior libero Kelsey Kinley has been the anchor of Texas A&M’s back line, averaging 3.15 digs per set.

Series History vs. Texas A&M
Wednesday’s match will be the sixth meeting all-time between South Carolina and Texas A&M. The Aggies lead the all-time series 4-1. The Gamecocks recorded their first-ever win over the Aggies on Oct. 6, 2013 earlier this season, a four-set decision. The first meeting between the two programs was on Oct. 10, 1993, a three-set Texas A&M victory. South Carolina is 0-2 all-time in matches in College Station.

Last Time vs. Texas A&M – Oct. 6, 2013
South Carolina recorded its first-ever win over Texas A&M, defeating the Aggies in four sets by the scores of 25-23, 25-20, 20-25, 25-23. Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin paced the Gamecocks with a double-double, finishing with 23 kills and 11 digs. Sophomore middle blocker Darian Dozier contributed a career-best 18 kills while hitting .571 and six blocks, while sophomore Sarah Blomgren chipped in 10 kills. The Aggies out-hit the Gamecocks (.315-.312), but South Carolina held the edge in kills (71-59) and digs (64-56).

Senior Salute
Wednesday’s match will be the final match in Garnet and Black 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 195 matches and has led South Carolina to 51 wins during their time in Columbia.

Trying Something Different
After making 24 starts at libero this season, junior Michaela Christiaansen took the court in a different role in South Carolina’s matches last weekend. She started both contests at setter, recording 28 assists at Arkansas and 12 against LSU.

Experience Paying Off
Freshman Dessaa Legros, who has played in 28 matches this season, made positive contributions in all six sets over the weekend. Legros paced the Gamecocks offensively in both matches, finishing with eight kills at Arkansas and 11 kills against LSU, which was one off her career high. On the season Legros is averaging 1.74 kills per set.

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. 32 Texas A&M, No. 33 Alabama, No. 34 LSU, No. 37 Arkansas and No. 40 Georgia.

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 457 kills currently rank second all-time, while her kills per set average of 4.62 ranks second. Sophomore middle blocker Darian Dozier has the second most block assists in a single season (105) and the fourth most total blocks (113).

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 (4.62) and points (4.95) per set. In SEC matches only, Thévenin ranks first in kills (4.26) and second in points (4.60). Freshman middle blocker Jacqy Angermiller is one of two Gamecocks ranked in the top 20 in blocks as she ranks seventh with an average of 1.09 per set. Sophomore middle blocker Darian Dozier ranks ninth (1.08). Junior libero Michaela Christiaansen is 10th in digs per set (3.64).

And in the NCAA Stats
One Gamecock ranks in the top 20 nationally in two categories in the latest NCAA statistics report. Senior Juliette Thévenin ranks ninth in kills per set (4.62) and 164th in points per set (4.95).

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 1,581 kills.

Closing in on the 1,000-1,000 Club
Senior Juliette Thévenin is close to reaching another milestone. Entering Wednesday’s match, she has 1,581 kills and 999 digs for her career. With one dig against the Aggies, 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 10 in six career categories, ranking third in kills (1,581), second in kills per set (4.07), second in attacks (4,050), 10th in digs (999), fourth in points (1,733.5) and third in points per set (4.47). On the season she is averaging a league-best 4.62 kills and 4.95 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 1,581, trailing only Missouri’s Lisa Henning (1,743). She is 10th in career kills and ninth kills per set (4.07) among active Division I players. Her career average ranks 15th among all divisions, while her career kills total is 25th 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 .172 in losses. Opponents are hitting .145 in Gamecock wins and .292 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 10-5 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 2.2-1.9 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 2.01 kills per set and ranks ninth in the SEC with an average of 1.08 blocks per set. She also leads the team in hitting with a percentage of .287, which ranks 19th 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 1.59 kills per set and 1.09 blocks per set, which ranks seventh 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 15,526 fans attending 16 matches this season, breaking the previous record of 11,787 in 17 matches in 2012. The average of 970 fans per match shattered the VCF average attendance record of 765 from the 2002 season. South Carolina’s average attendance ranks 36th 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 736-573 (.562) record.
• The Gamecocks are 195-232 (.457) in SEC play.
• In matches played at the Volleyball Competition Facility, South Carolina is 156-84 (.650).