Sept. 19, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. – A locked-in offense guided the South Carolina volleyball team to a third-straight win Saturday night, as the Gamecocks (7-5) hit .343 to sweep Wofford 3-0 (25-19, 25-14, 25-19). The win clinched the Carolina Classic title for the host school as the Terriers (7-7) entered the night with an identical 2-0 record through the first two matches.
Sarah Blomgren was the easy choice for the tournament’s most valuable player, as she capped her weekend with ten more kills and a .526 hitting percentage. All-Tournament honoree Darian Dozier chipped in with a match-high 13 kills and Koko Atoa-Williams added a season-best 12 kills of her own to fuel the offense.
In the first set, Atoa-Williams and Elizabeth Johnbull provided some extra options for the offense and were efficient in their attacks. The duo combined for seven kills on 12 swings in the set, and Atoa-Williams pitched in three digs on defense. There would be five ties total, but the Gamecocks would never trail and took an early 1-0 lead in the match.
Dozier was a force to be reckoned with in the second set, and an early back-and-forth in the scoring would give way to a back-breaking 8-0 run that turned a 9-4 advantage into 17-4. Of those eight points in the run, four would come off kills from Dozier. The senior middle blocker totaled seven kills in the set on just eight swings, but for as dominant as she was on offense, libero Joely Cabrera was equally strong on the defensive side. She had nine digs in the second set alone and finished with 15 in the match.
After the halftime break, the Terriers found their teeth again in the third set and the two teams went to the TV timeout with Carolina ahead just 15-14. Coming out of that timeout, though, a 6-1 spurt provided enough wiggle room for the home side to cruise to the 25-19 set victory, clinching the match. Sarah Blomgren led the offense in the final set with five kills in eight swings.
Darian Dozier recorded seven kills in the second set, with four of those coming during an 8-0 run that gave the Gamecocks a commanding 17-4 lead. The team would ultimately win the set 25-14 and took the 2-0 lead in the match.
For as many gaudy stats the offense put up over the weekend’s three matches, it was the defense that fueled it. The Gamecocks hit .284 as a team over the three matches during the Carolina Classic, but held their opponents to just a .099 percentage.
â€¢ The Gamecocks dropped just one set for the weekend.
â€¢ Carolina is now 5-1 at home
â€¢ The Gamecocks improve to 28-1 in home tournament play during the Swanson era.
â€¢ Aubrey Ezell matched a season-high with three service aces in the match. She now has nine total for the season.
â€¢ Despite a relatively close proximity, this was the first meeting between the two programs. The Gamecocks are now 5-0 against fellow South Carolina schools so far this season.
Head Coach Scott Swanson
I thought we had stumbled a little bit earlier in the day, but came back and played with a bit more confidence. I thought that Wofford was going to be our toughest opponent because they were 2-0 this weekend and had already come back and won in five already in this tournament. I was a little nervous when we were up 2-0 because I knew that they (Wofford) were going to give us a real run. I was really proud of the kids for hanging in there, we started playing more disciplined and we started communicating better and we had some really awesome performances from a few different hitters who got double-digit kills with high hitting percentages.
Tweet of the Match
— Scott Swanson (@GamecockVBcoach) September 20, 2015
The homestand continues next week, starting with a match against Coastal Carolina Tuesday night at 6 p.m. The team will then begin SEC play with a home match against Kentucky at 7 p.m.