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Aug. 8, 2015

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COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina volleyball team kicked off preseason camp on Saturday morning with a three-hour practice at the Carolina Volleyball Center.

The Gamecocks went through hitting, defensive and serving drills before splitting into teams for three-on-three play. Carolina concluded practice with some six-on-six work and conditioning. Gamecock head coach Scott Swanson, who is in his fifth season at the helm of the program, was pleased with what he saw on his squad’s first day.

“This was day one, session one,” Swanson said. “We were shaking the rust off a little bit. The effort level and attitude is fantastic. This is their first time back in the gym since probably five days ago because they all took a little bit of a break after summer school. It’s only going to get better as far as the execution and the skill level. I was pretty pleased with the first day.”

With eight newcomers on the roster this season, the Carolina coaching staff spent time evaluating each player’s skill set on Saturday.

“We are trying to figure out positions and lineups,” said Swanson, whose team went 17-14 a year ago. “We are doing a lot of evaluating as a coaching staff, looking at who is a leader, who is going to be a chemistry player and who is going to be the best athlete at their position. It’s a lot about executing the skills and consistency of what we are looking for, and we will try to put together a starting lineup with all those notes and observations.”

Despite the large number of new faces, the Gamecocks return a very experienced upper class, with eight juniors and three seniors on the roster. Seniors Darian Dozier (MB), Elizabeth Johnbull (MB) and Sarah Blomgren (RS/OH) and juniors Koko Atoa-Williams (OH), Jacqy Angermiller (MB), Megan Kirkland (DS/Libero), Katlyn McDaniel (MB), Dessaa Legros (OH) and Jordan Wilson-Talmadge (DS/Libero) combined to make 189 starts last season. With a wealth of experience returning, the Gamecocks have had a very productive offseason leading up to fall camp.

“They’ve been through the battles and through the good and the bad times,” Swanson said. “They’ve reached a certain maturity level that we are pretty proud of. They led the way this summer with open gyms. They actually ran practices to a level that I don’t think has been done in the past. That’s why I think we are ahead of the game right now. Our freshmen know the system that they run, they know how we communicate and they know our base defense. They know a lot of the things, so we are not having to spend time on that right now. That part has been outstanding. Darian, Sarah and Liz have led the way as seniors along with Koko, Megan and some of the returning juniors. It’s been refreshing and something that the coaching staff is very proud of.”

The Gamecocks will host the Gamecock Invitational on Aug. 28-29 to open the 2015 season. Season tickets for South Carolina’s 16 home dates are now on sale. Adult tickets are $25, and youth tickets (17 and under) are $10. For more information, contact the South Carolina ticket office at 800-4SC-FANS or visit the ticket office home page HERE.