Sept. 11, 2015
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The South Carolina volleyball team lost its opening match at the Michigan Challenge on Friday, falling to Pittsburgh 3-1 by the scores of 25-18, 20-25, 25-15 and 25-12 at Cliff Keen Arena.
With the loss, the Gamecocks drop to 4-3 on the season. The Panthers improve to 6-1.
Pittsburgh finished the match with the advantage in kills (61-40), hitting percentage (.321-.101) and digs (53-48), while Carolina out-blocked its opponent for the seventh-straight match with an 8-5 edge in blocks.
Senior Sarah Blomgren paced the Gamecocks with 13 kills while hitting .321 on the afternoon, while freshman outside hitter Courtney Furlong added a career-high eight kills, seven digs and four blocks. Junior outside hitter Koko Atoa-Williams finished with seven kills and five digs. Freshman setter Aubrey Ezell recorded her fourth-straight double-double with 28 assists and 10 digs. Junior Megan Kirkland had 12 digs, and senior middle blocker Darian Dozier pitched in four kills and a season-high five blocks.
Freshman outside hitter Stephanie Williams led the Panthers with a double-double, recording 14 kills and 10 digs. Senior Kadi Kullerkann contributed 12 kills, while senior Casey Durham and sophomore Mariah Bell finished with 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Senior setter Jenna Jacobson distributed 25 assists, while freshman Kamalani Akea had 23 assists. Libero Angela Seman collected 21 digs on the afternoon.
After Pittsburgh claimed the first set 25-18, the Gamecocks fell behind 8-4 early in the second set. Carolina scrapped back, using a 9-2 run capped by a kill by Blomgren to take a 13-10 lead. The Panthers cut the Gamecocks’ lead to 14-13, but Carolina outscored Pittsburgh 11-6 down the stretch to tie the match at 1-1. However, the Panthers held the Gamecocks to a -.034 hitting percentage to win the third set 25-15 and clinched the match by hitting .677 in the fourth set to win 25-12.
After the Gamecocks tied the match at 1-1 with a win in the second set, Pittsburgh held Carolina to a -.034 hitting percentage in the third set and hit .677 in the fourth set to win both frames and the match.
The Panthers held the Gamecocks to a season-low .101 hitting percentage while hitting .321 for the match.
– Ezell recorded her fourth-straight double-double and sixth this season with 28 assists and 10 digs.
– Dozier tallied a season-high five blocks.
– Furlong finished the match with career-highs in kills (8), digs (7) and blocks (4).
– The Gamecocks have out-blocked their opponents in every match this season after out-blocking the Panthers 8-5. Carolina had seven blocks in the second set alone.
– Carolina’s hitting percentage of .101 is a season low.
The Gamecocks will be back in action tonight against tournament host No. 24 Michigan. First serve is set for 7:30 at Cliff Keen Arena.