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Sept. 4, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina volleyball team hits the road for the first time this season as it heads to Rock Hill, S.C., this weekend for the Carolina Challenge hosted by Winthrop.

The Gamecocks are slated to face rival Clemson on Friday at 4 p.m. and Furman (10 a.m.) and Winthrop (7 p.m.) on Saturday at the Winthrop Coliseum.

Tournament Central
Friday: vs. Clemson, 4 p.m.
Saturday: vs. Furman, 10 a.m., Winthrop, 7 p.m.
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South Carolina Quick Hits
• South Carolina is in its fourth season with head coach Scott Swanson.
• Last year’s team went 12-19.
• The Gamecocks return 13 letter winners from a year ago, including four starters and the libero (Sarah Blomgren, Kellie McNeil, Darian Dozier, Jacqy Angermiller, Mikaela Christiaansen).
• With the departure of outside hitter Juliette Thévenin, the Gamecocks lost 33.8 percent of their production in kills. She ranked first in the SEC in both kills per set (4.57) and points per set (4.91).
• South Carolina returns middle blockers Jacqy Angermiller and Darian Dozier, who ranked seventh (1.08) and eighth (1.06), respectively, in the SEC in blocks per set.
• Junior setter Kellie McNeil is back after missing the last eight matches last season with a foot injury. McNeil ranked sixth in the SEC in assists per set (10.17) and 12th in blocks per set (0.94).

A Look Back at the Gamecock Invitational
• The Gamecocks went 3-0 last weekend to win their fourth consecutive Gamecock Invitational, defeating Gardner-Webb 3-0, Jacksonville 3-1 and Georgia Tech 3-1.
• Sophomore outside hitter KoKo Atoa-Williams was named Tournament MVP after averaging 3.27 kills per set and 2.09 digs per set. She had a career-high 18 kills in the win over Georgia Tech.
• Senior libero Mikaela Christiaansen earned a spot on the All-Tournament Team after averaging 4.09 digs per set.
• Freshman outside hitter Taylr McNeil averaged 3.09 kills per set, including a match-high 16 kills while hitting .419 in her Gamecock debut against Gardner-Webb.
• Junior setter Kellie McNeil averaged 1.27 kills per set while hitting .571, 7.36 assists per set, 2.36 digs per set and one block per set. She also had a team-best seven service aces.
• Junior middle blocker Darian Dozier averaged a league-best 2.25 blocks per set, including a career-high 11 blocks against Jacksonville.

Gamecocks in the SEC Stats
• South Carolina leads the conference in blocks, averaging 3.45 per set.
• Junior middle blocker Darian Dozier ranks first in the league in blocks with an average of 2.25 per set. Junior middle blocker Elizabeth Johnbull (1.25) and sophomore middle Jacqy Angermiller (1.11) rank 11th and 15th, respectively.
• Junior setter Kellie McNeil ranks second in the SEC in service aces per set (0.64) and 11th in assists per set (7.36).
• Sophomore outside hitter KoKo Atoa-Williams (3.27) and freshman outside hitter Taylr McNeil (3.09) rank sixth and 12th in the league in kills per set, respectively.
• Senior libero Mikaela Christiaansen is seventh in the SEC in digs per set (4.09).

Block Party
• The Gamecocks reached double figures in blocks in all three matches of the Gamecock Invitational, recording 10 against Gardner-Webb, 16 against Jacksonville and 12 against Georgia Tech.
• South Carolina averaged 3.45 blocks per set, which ranks first in the SEC.
• Four Gamecocks are averaging one or more blocks per set, including an SEC best 2.25 blocks per set by junior middle blocker Darian Dozier.

Coming into Her Own
• After averaging 1.43 kills per set in 21 matches a year ago, sophomore outside hitter KoKo Atoa-Williams had a breakout performance to earn Gamecock Invitational MVP honors with an average of 3.27 kills per set, which ranks sixth in the SEC.
• Atoa-Williams recorded her first career double-double in the win over Jacksonville with 12 kills and 10 digs.
• A native of Reno, Nev., Atoa-Williams posted a career-high 18 kills while hitting .306 and seven digs in the win over Georgia Tech.

Approaching a Milestone
• South Carolina head coach Scott Swanson is three wins away from reaching 100 career victories and 50 victories at the helm of the Gamecocks.
• Swanson is 97-110 in his eighth season as a head coach and 47-49 in his fourth season at South Carolina.

Scouting Clemson
• Head coach Jolene Jordan Hoover is in her 22nd season with the Tigers.
• Clemson went 15-16 overall in 2013, including a 9-11 mark in ACC play. The Tigers are 2-0 this season.
• The Tigers return nine letter winners, including five starters.
• Clemson is hitting .293 this season while holding opponents to a -.018 hitting percentage.
• The Tigers are out-blocking opponents 24-3.
• Senior outside hitter Kristin Faust leads the team with 5.14 kills per set while hitting .293.
• Freshman setter Kate Federico is averaging a team-best 9.57 assists per set.
• The Tigers’ top blocker is senior middle blocker Beta Dumancic, who is averaging 1.57 blocks per set.
• Senior Niki Collier anchors the back line with an average of 3.29 digs per set.

Series History vs. Clemson
• Friday’s meeting will be the 60th all-time between the Gamecocks and Tigers.
• South Carolina leads the all-time series 36-23.
• The teams have each won five matches in the last 10 meetings.
• The Gamecocks are 4-7 all-time in neutral site matches against the Tigers.
• Clemson won last year’s meeting 3-2 on Sept. 6, 2013 in Clemson, S.C. The Tigers won by the scores of 22-25, 25-20, 25-21, 20-25 and 15-9.

Scouting Furman
• Head coach Michelle Young is in her 15th year at Furman.
• The Paladins went 17-12 overall in 2013 and tied for second in the Southern Conference with a 12-4 record. Furman was picked to finish second on the SoCon this season.
• Furman is 1-2 entering the weekend.
• The Paladins have 12 letter winners returning, including five starters.
• Junior setter Jo Wilks and sophomore middle blocker Ashton Gregory earned preseason All-Southern Conference honors. Wilks is averaging 8.42 assists per set this season, while Gregory, the 2013 SoCon Freshman of the Year, is averaging 3.08 kills and 1.17 blocks per set.

Series History vs. Furman
• South Carolina leads the all-time series 4-1.
• Furman claimed its first victory over the Gamecocks last season, winning in four sets by the scores of 29-27, 25-21, 24-26 and 25-20 on Sept. 7, 2013 in Clemson, S.C.

Scouting Winthrop
• Head coach Bruce Atkinson is in his second year at Winthrop.
• The Eagles went 17-13 in 2013, including a 6-6 mark in Big South play. Winthrop was picked to finish fifth in the Big South this season.
• The Eagles enter the weekend with a 2-3 record.
• Winthrop has eight letter winners returning, including five starters.
• Senior setter Jessie Vicic set a Big South single-season record with 1,355 assists in 2013. She is averaging 8.58 assists per set this season.
• Senior outside hitter Alina Sopizhuk has been Winthrop’s top attacker, averaging 3.16 kills per set.
• Junior middle blocker Rachel Lenz leads the team with 1.26 blocks per set.

Series History vs. Winthrop
• South Carolina leads the all-time series 18-14.
• The Gamecocks have won eight of the last 10 meetings.
• South Carolina has not lost consecutive matches to the Eagles since losing both meetings during the 1982 season on Sept. 17 and Oct. 20.
• Winthrop won last year’s matchup, defeating the Gamecocks in five sets by the scores of 21-25, 17-25, 25-22, 25-22 and 15-12 on Sept. 7, 2013 in Clemson, S.C.

Roster Breakdown
• South Carolina has four freshmen (three true freshmen), eight sophomores, five juniors and two seniors on its roster.
• Ten states are represented on South Carolina’s roster. Four players are from South Carolina, three from Georgia, two from Texas, Florida, California and Minnesota and one from Michigan, Nevada, Maryland and Arizona.

Sister Act
• The Gamecocks have two pairs of sisters involved with the program in 2014 in freshman outside hitter Taylr McNeil and junior setter Kellie McNeil and junior middle blocker Darian Dozier and graduate assistant Kristen Dozier.
• Both Taylr and Kellie McNeil were the Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year coming out of high school.
• Kristen Dozier was a standout at Ohio State (2006-09) and went on to play professionally in Spain, Israel, Puerto Rico and Germany. She was also a member of the U.S. National Team in 2013.

Coming Home
• Former Gamecock great Shonda Cole joins the coaching staff this season as volunteer assistant.
• Cole played at South Carolina from 2003-06 and became the first Gamecock to earn All-America honors, earning a spot on the AVCA Honorable Mention All-America Team in 2006.
• She had a successful professional career, playing one season in Spain, six in Puerto Rico and a half season in France.
• Cole won a league championship with Pinkin de Corozal in 2010 and was named finals MVP after leading Indias de Mayaguez to the league title in 2013.

All-Time Records
• South Carolina holds a 740-568 (.566) record.
• The Gamecocks are 161-215 (.428) in SEC play.
• In matches played at the Volleyball Competition Facility, South Carolina is 159-84 (.654).

Packing the VCF
• South Carolina averaged 1,629 fans in three matches of the Gamecock Invitational.
• The Gamecocks drew 1,711 fans for their season opener versus Gardner-Webb, the second largest crowd in VCF history.
• Carolina played in front of 1,528 fans versus Jacksonville and 1,647 fans versus Georgia Tech, the fifth and third largest crowds in VCF history, respectively.