Aug. 27, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina volleyball team will open its 2015 season this weekend as it hosts the Gamecock Invitational on Friday and Saturday at the Carolina Volleyball Center.
The Gamecocks will face Southeastern Louisiana on Friday (7 p.m.) and will take on North Carolina Central (1 p.m.) and North Carolina State (7 p.m.) on Saturday. All three matches will be available live on SEC Network+.
Friday: vs. Southeastern Louisiana, 7 p.m. | SEC Network+
Saturday: vs. North Carolina Central, 1 p.m. | SEC Network+
Saturday: vs. North Carolina State, 7 p.m. | SEC Network+
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South Carolina at a Glance
- South Carolina enters its fifth season under the direction of head coach Scott Swanson.
- The Gamecocks went 17-14 overall and 7-11 in the SEC in 2014.
- The seven SEC wins are Carolina’s most during the Swanson era and the most since going 12-8 in 2008.
- The Gamecocks return 10 letter winners from a year ago, including five players who started 10 or more matches (Koko Atoa-Williams, Darian Dozier, Sarah Blomgren, Jacqy Angermiller, Megan Kirkland).
- The Gamecocks’ roster is made up of eight freshmen (seven true freshmen), eight juniors, and three seniors.
- A total of nine states – California (2), Florida (3), Georgia (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Nevada (1), North Carolina (1), South Carolina (2) and Texas (5) – and Puerto Rico (1) are represented on the Gamecock roster.
Look Who’s Back
- The Gamecocks return 67.7 percent (986) of their kills from last season. Junior outside hitter Koko Atoa-Williams ranked second on the squad with 304 kills in 2014, averaging 2.51 per set.
- With the departure of setters Kellie McNeil and Allie Monserez, the Gamecocks only return 5.1 percent (70) of their assists from 2014. True freshman Aubrey Ezell will be counted on to fill that role in 2015.
- Carolina returns 41.8 percent (766) of its digs from last season. Atoa-Williams is the leading returner as she tallied 283 digs in 2014, averaging 2.34 per set.
- The Gamecocks return 71.5 percent (369) of their blocks from 2014. Senior middle blocker Darian Dozier will lead the way after setting a rally scoring era school record last season with 141 total blocks.
Home Match Notes
- The Gamecocks will play 16 matches at the Carolina Volleyball Center in 2015.
- Carolina’s record for most home matches in a season is 21 (1990).
- The Gamecocks went 9-6 at home last season with three losses being against ranked teams (No. 14 Kentucky, No. 8 Florida, No. 20 Texas A&M).
- Under head coach Scott Swanson, the Gamecocks are 36-26 at home.
Recent Home Tournament History
- The Gamecocks have hosted a home tournament every year since 2000 except for 2001 and 2005.
- Carolina is 23-0 in home tournaments during the Scott Swanson era.
- Carolina’s last loss at a home tournament was a 3-0 setback against Lipscomb in the Gamecock Invitational on Sept. 11, 2010.
Gamecocks in Season Openers
- Since its first year in the SEC (1991), South Carolina is 19-4 in season openers, including a 10-0 mark when opening at home.
- Carolina is 4-0 in season openers under Scott Swanson.
- Senior middle blocker Darian Dozier looks to continue climbing the school’s career records list for block assists and total blocks. Dozier enters the season eighth on Carolina’s all-time block assists list with 294. She is just one block away from entering the top 10 on the total blocks list with 323.
Scouting Southeastern Louisiana
- The Lady Lions went 11-18 last season, including an 8-8 mark in Southland Conference play.
- Southeastern Louisiana returns six starters from a year ago.
- The Lady Lions return their top six players in terms of kills. Senior right side Tiffany Thomas led the way in 2014 with 215 kills, averaging 2.22 per set.
- Senior setter Mikayla Shippy is back after leading the squad with 834 assists last season, averaging 8.78 per set.
- Southeastern Louisiana will have to replace All-Southland libero Morgan Todd, who averaged 5.06 digs per set in 2014. Senior defensive specialist Brooke Balser averaged 2.79 digs per set last season.
- Junior Rachel Bunn returns to lead the Lady Lions in the middle after leading the team in total blocks (98) and blocks per set (1.00) last season.
Series History vs. Southeastern Louisiana
- Friday’s matchup will be the first between the Gamecocks and Lady Lions.
Scouting North Carolina Central
- The Lady Eagles went 4-25 last season, including a 4-6 mark in the MEAC.
- North Carolina Central returns three players – junior Kelsey Murphy (OH), sophomore Paige Phillips (S) and senior Kelly Rossip (MB) – who started 20 or more matches last season.
- Murphy, a 2014 third-team All-MEAC selection, led the team in kills (287) and kills per set (2.99) in 2014.
- Phillips tallied a team-best 514 assists in 2014, averaging 5.53 per set.
- Rossip ranked second on the team in blocks (54) and blocks per set (0.56).
- Senior DS/Libero Marilyn Sherbondy is the top returner in digs per set after averaging 2.83 per set in 2014.
Series History vs. North Carolina Central
- Saturday’s matchup will be the first between the Gamecocks and Lady Eagles.
Scouting North Carolina State
- NC State went 16-14 overall in 2014, including a 5-13 mark in the ACC.
- The Wolfpack returns five players – sophomore Kaitlyn Kearney (MB), junior Maggie Speaks (S), sophomore Perry Ramsey (OH), junior Rachel Eppley (DS/Libero) and senior Morgan Cormier (MB/Opp) – who started 10 or more matches last season.
- Kearney, a 2014 All-ACC Freshman Team selection, led the team in kills (277), blocks (118) and points (360.5) last season.
- Speaks led the way in assists a year ago with 799, averaging 9.40 per set.
- Eppley ranked second on the team in digs last year with 312, averaging 2.76 per set.
Series History vs. North Carolina State
- Saturday’s meeting will be the 22nd all-time between the Gamecocks and Wolfpack.
- Carolina leads the all-time series 11-10.
- The Gamecocks have won three of the last four matchups, including a 3-0 win in the most recent meeting on Sept. 6, 1997 in Columbia.
Packing the CVC
- In 2014, Carolina played in front of 1,000 or more fans a CVC record 11 times.
- Last season’s total attendance of 18,581 and average attendance of 1,239 were also CVC records.
- Eight of last year’s crowds rank in the top 10 in CVC history, including a record 1,807 fans for the Ole Miss match.
- The Gamecocks ranked 34th in the nation in total attendance and 35th in average attendance.
- Former Gamecock great Shonda Cole is in her first season as a full-time assistant coach after serving as volunteer assistant last year.
- 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.
- South Carolina holds a 754-582 (.564) record.
- The Gamecocks are 168-226 (.426) in SEC play.
- In matches played at the Carolina Volleyball Center, South Carolina is 165-90 (.647).