Oct. 15, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina volleyball team battled with eighth-ranked Florida on Wednesday night but fell in four sets, as the Gators won by the scores of 19-25, 25-18, 25-13, 25-19 in front of a crowd of 1,683 at the Carolina Volleyball Center.
With the loss, the Gamecocks drop to 13-5 on the season and 3-3 in SEC play. Florida improves to 13-3 overall and 7-0 in the conference.
Carolina came out strong in the first set, hitting .395 with just one attack error to claim a 25-19 win, with freshman outside hitter Taylr McNeil leading the way with five kills. The Gamecocks held the Gators to a .167 hitting percentage in the set. The Gamecocks jumped out to a 5-2 lead in the second set, but Florida went on an 18-8 run to take control on its way to a 25-18 win. Florida had its most efficient effort in the third set, hitting .393 to claim a 25-13 win. Carolina kept fighting back in the fourth set and built a 10-7 lead after four-straight Florida attack errors. The Gators came back to tie it up at 11-11, and the teams played to three more ties before Florida took the lead for good at 18-17 on a kill by Ziva Recek and went on to win 25-19.
McNeil paced Carolina with 16 kills and had six digs and a block. Sophomore KoKo Atoa-Williams added nine kills and 10 digs, while junior middle blocker Darian Dozier finished with nine kills, three blocks and two digs. Junior setter Kellie McNeil distributed 24 assists and had four digs, one kill and a block. Senior libero Mikaela Christiaansen finished with 14 digs, and sophomore defensive specialist Megan Kirkland collected 10 digs.
Sophomore right side Alex Holston led Florida with 19 kills and eight digs, while Recek added 12 kills and junior Gabby Mallette had eight kills. Junior setter Mackenzie Dagostino finished with 48 assists, nine digs and four blocks, while senior defensive specialist Madison Monserez had a match-high 18 digs and libero Holly Pole had 12 digs.
As a team, Florida held the advantage in kills (55-40), hitting percentage (.226-.119), digs (61-51) and blocks (10-4).
After Carolina hit .395 on its way to a win in the first set, the Gamecocks hit -.100, .079 and .034 the next three sets. Florida recorded nine of its 10 blocks during those three sets.
Holston and Recek combined for 31 kills with just six attack errors, hitting .366 and .357, respectively.
â€¢ The Gamecocks hit .395 with just one attack error in the first set to win their first set against Florida since a 3-1 loss on Sept. 28, 2012.
â€¢ The Gators are just the fifth team to out-block South Carolina this season. Florida finished with a 10-4 advantage in blocks.
â€¢ Taylr McNeil paced the Gamecocks with 16 kills, her 14th double-figure kill performance this season.
South Carolina head coach Scott Swanson
“I thought we played the best game of our season in game one. We only made one hitting error and outhit them. They made some errors that they normally don’t make, so we got some momentum. I thought we gave a confident nothing to lose effort in the first game. Like I just told the team, we have to quite riding the roller coaster of up and down and up and down. We have to figure out a way to stay mentally focused for more than one set. We had our moments after game one, but they are No. 8 in the country. They are really, really good. If you give them an inch, they are going to take a mile. They are a tough team.”
The Gamecocks will host Texas A&M on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. in the Carolina Volleyball Center. The match will be streamed on SEC Network+ via WatchESPN.