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Sept. 18, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. — In its final tuneup before SEC play, the South Carolina volleyball team will host the Carolina Classic this weekend at the Carolina Volleyball Center.

The Gamecocks (7-2) will open with Norfolk State (0-9) on Friday at 10 a.m. and will then play Eastern Kentucky (8-5) at 7 p.m. Carolina will close out the tournament against The Citadel (4-7) on Saturday at 3 p.m. All three matches will be streamed live on the SEC Network+ digital platform. Fans can watch through participating cable and satellite providers on WatchESPN.

Tournament Central
Friday: vs. Norfolk State, 10 a.m., SEC Network+ | vs. Eastern Kentucky, 7 p.m., SEC Network+
Saturday: vs. The Citadel, 3 p.m. | SEC Network+
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South Carolina at a Glance
• The Gamecocks are 7-2 on the season and are riding a four-match winning streak.
• Carolina has lost just one set during the winning streak.
• When out-hitting opponents, the Gamecocks are 6-0 on the season.
• The Gamecocks have used six different starting lineups in nine matches.
• Junior middle blocker Darian Dozier, sophomore KoKo Atoa-Williams and freshman outside hitter Taylr McNeil have started every match, while senior Mikaela Christiaansen has been libero all nine matches.

A Look Back at the Campbell Invitational
• South Carolina won the Campbell Invitational with a 3-0 record, sweeping both Campbell and Elon and defeating North Florida 3-1.
• Freshman outside hitter Taylr McNeil was named Tournament MVP, averaging 4.10 kills per set while hitting .309 and 2.10 digs per set.
• Sophomore KoKo Atoa-Williams (3.20 kills per set, 3.00 digs per set) and junior right side Sarah Blomgren (1.90 kills per set) made the All-Tournament Team.
• The Gamecocks out-hit their opponents .284-.098 for the tournament.

Gamecocks in the SEC and NCAA Stats
• South Carolina is second in the SEC and ranks 19th nationally in blocks per set (2.79).
• The Gamecocks lead the SEC in opponent hitting percentage (.143).
• Carolina ranks second in the conference in digs per set (16.15).
• Junior middle blocker Darian Dozier leads the SEC and ranks fifth in the nation in blocks per set (1.73).
• Freshman outside hitter Taylr McNeil ranks sixth in the conference in kills per set (3.58) and is first among freshmen. She is also tied for sixth in the league in points per set (4.00).
• Junior setter Kellie McNeil ranks second in the SEC in service aces per set (0.50).
• Senior libero Mikaela Christiaansen is third in the SEC in digs per set (4.30).
• Sophomore outside hitter KoKo Atoa-Williams ranks 18th in the SEC in kills (2.76) and her four double-doubles are tied for the fourth most in the league.

Reaching a Milestone
• With a win over Elon at the Campbell Invitational, South Carolina head coach Scott Swanson recorded his 100th career victory and his 50th win at South Carolina.
• Swanson is now 101-112 in his eighth season as a head coach and 51-51 in his fourth season at South Carolina.
• Swanson’s 51 wins are the sixth most in school history.

Home Match Notes
• The Gamecocks have 15 home matches on the schedule in 2014.
• Carolina is 3-0 at home this season.
• Under head coach Scott Swanson, the Gamecocks are 30-20 at home.

Recent Home Tournament History
• South Carolina has hosted a home tournament every year since 2000 except for 2001 and 2005.
• The Gamecocks are a perfect 20-0 in home tournaments during the Scott Swanson era.
• Carolina’s last loss at home in a tournament was a 3-0 setback against Lipscomb in the Gamecock Invitational on Sept. 11, 2010.

Taking the Reins
• With the departure of All-American outside hitter Juliette Thévenin, freshman outside hitter Taylr McNeil has filled in nicely through nine matches.
• McNeil leads the team with an average of 3.58 kills per set, which ranks sixth in the SEC and first among league freshmen.
• She is also second on the team in digs per set (2.67).
• A native of Eagan, Minn., McNeil has recorded two double-doubles, including a career-high 22 kills and 23 digs as well as five blocks vs. Furman (9/6). She is the only player in the SEC to currently have a double-double with more than 20 kills and 20 digs.

Scouting Norfolk State
• Norfolk State enters the weekend with an 0-9 record.
• The Spartans have been swept in six of their nine matches and have won four sets out of 31.
• Norfolk State went 11-18 in 2013 and had a 7-5 mark in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference.
• A total of 12 letter winners return this season, including five starters.
• Twelve players have started a match this season.
• Senior libero Noelle Eagles, a 2013 third-team All-MEAC selection, returns and is averaging 3.24 digs per set. Eagles is Norfolk State’s single-match, single-season and career record holder for digs.
• Junior outside hitter Jessica Johnson leads the team and ranks seventh in the MEAC in kills per set (3.26).
• The Spartans’ top blocker has been senior middle blocker Kylee Thiim, who is averaging 0.76 blocks per set.

Series History vs. Norfolk State
• Friday’s meeting will be the first between South Carolina and Norfolk State.
• South Carolina is 5-0 all-time against current schools in the Mid Eastern Athletic Conference.

Scouting Eastern Kentucky
• Eastern Kentucky enters the season with an 8-5 record.
• The Colonels have played 13 matches in 15 days.
• Five of the Colonels’ eight wins have been sweeps.
• The Colonels went 18-16 a year ago, including a 9-7 mark in Ohio Valley Conference play.
• Senior outside hitter Alexis Plagens, a preseason All-OVC selection, leads the team with an average of 3.53 kills per set.
• Senior libero Dena Ott has moved second on Easter Kentucky’s career digs list with 2,035. She is averaging 4.53 digs per set and needs 420 more to move into first place.
• Junior middle blocker Rachel Vick averages 2.47 kills per set while hitting a team-best .385 and averages 0.56 blocks per set.

Series History vs. Eastern Kentucky
• Friday’s matchup will be the fifth all-time between the Gamecocks and Colonels.
• South Carolina leads the all-time series 4-0.
• The Gamecocks swept the Colonels in the most recent meeting on Sept. 4, 2009 in Columbia. On that day Ivana Kujundzic paced South Carolina with 14 kills while hitting .500 and nine digs.
• South Carolina is 13-6 all-time against current schools in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Scouting The Citadel
• The Citadel is 4-7 heading into the weekend.
• The Bulldogs snapped a three-match losing streak with a win over South Carolina State on Tuesday.
• The Citadel went 5-28 in 2013 including an 0-16 record in the Southern Conference.
• Eleven Bulldog letter winners return from 2013, including five starters.
• Opponents are out-hitting the Bulldogs .221-.146 this season.
• Junior middle blocker Bailey Kernodle leads the team in kills, averaging 2.36 per set.
• Freshman outside hitter Moriah Smith is close behind, averaging 2.31 kills per set.
• Junior setter Rachel Keefer is averaging 8.57 assists per set.
• Senior Amanda Rudnik has produced a team-best 3.67 digs per set.

Series History vs. The Citadel
• Saturday’s meeting will be the second between The Citadel and South Carolina.
• The Gamecocks won 3-1 in the teams’ only previous meeting on Sept. 26, 2010. Then-freshman Juliette Thévenin recorded 21 kills, 11 digs and four aces to lead Carolina.
• South Carolina is 30-4 all-time against current members of the Southern Conference.

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).

Roster Breakdown
• South Carolina has three freshmen, seven sophomores, five juniors and two seniors on its roster.
• Nine states are represented on South Carolina’s roster. Four players are from South Carolina, two from Georgia, Texas, Florida, California and Minnesota and one from 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 744-570 (.566) record.
• The Gamecocks are 161-215 (.428) in SEC play.
• In matches played at the Carolina Volleyball Center, South Carolina is 159-84 (.654).

Packing the CVC
• 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 CVC 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 CVC history, respectively.