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Sept. 28, 2014

Final Stats | Photo Gallery media-icon-photogallery.gif

Coach Swanson

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina volleyball team overcame a shaky start to battle back and forth with No. 14 Kentucky before the Wildcats secured the victory in the fourth set, winning by the scores of 25-14, 21-25, 25-17 and 25-21 on Sunday at the Carolina Volleyball Center.

With the loss, the Gamecocks drop to 11-3 on the season and 1-1 in SEC play, as their eight-match winning streak comes to an end. Kentucky improves to 12-2 overall and 2-0 in league play.

After playing to a 6-6 tie in the first set, Kentucky outscored the Gamecocks 19-8 the rest of the way to take a 1-0 lead. The Gamecocks responded in the second set with their most efficient offensive effort of the afternoon, hitting .355 on their way to a 25-21 win. Sophomore Katlyn McDaniel led the way with five kills on seven attempts and no attack errors.

Kentucky regained momentum with a 25-17 win in the third set, but Carolina came out strong again in the fourth set. The Gamecocks led 19-16 late in the set after a kill by Taylr McNeil, but Kentucky went on a 9-2 run to secure the win.

For the match, Kentucky held the edge in kills (63-46), hitting percentage (.316-.228) and digs (51-42), while the Gamecocks had an 8-4 advantage in blocks.

Taylr McNeil paced Carolina with 13 kills while hitting .312 and six digs. Sophomore Dessaa Legros and McDaniel provided a spark off the bench. Legros delivered a season-high eight kills while hitting .429, while McDaniel finished with a career-high eight kills while hitting .312. Junior middle blocker Darian Dozier chipped in five kills and had a match-high five blocks, and sophomore KoKo Atoa-Williams pitched in five kills. Junior setter Kellie McNeil distributed a season-high 40 assists and added five digs, three kills and three blocks, and senior libero Mikaela Christiaansen tallied 22 digs.

Lauren O’Conner recorded 22 kills while hitting .594 to lead the Wildcats, while Shelby Workman finished with 14 kills and nine digs and Sara Schwarzwalder had 10 kills and two blocks. Anni Thomasson pitched in eight kills and 12 digs, and setter Morgan Bergren had 52 assists, six digs and two blocks.

Match Changer
With the Gamecocks threatening to force a fifth set with a 19-16 lead in the fourth set, Kentucky used a 9-2 run to secure the win.

Key Stat
Kentucky’s Lauren O’Conner hit .594 for the match to record 22 kills on 32 attempts with just three attack errors.

• McDaniel recorded a career-high eight kills.
• Legros finished with a season-high eight kills while hitting .429.
• McNeil dished out a season-high 40 assists.

South Carolina head coach Scott Swanson
“I thought we really gave ourselves a chance to be in a fifth game. We are still just a little bit inconsistent. It’s fixable things, things we have to work on in practice and things that give up points at the wrong times. That’s a sign of our youth I think, but like I just told the team we have to keep believing in ourselves and that we will become a better team this year. It’s not a matter of how hard we work. It’s just a matter of learning and gaining more experience. I’m proud of the effort they put in and I thought we played really well at times.”

Up Next
The Gamecocks will head to Starkville, Miss., to face Mississippi State in their first SEC road contest on Friday. First serve is set for 8 p.m. ET.