Sept. 21, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Fresh off a big weekend hosting the Carolina Classic, the South Carolina volleyball team will cap off the non-conference season Tuesday night with a big match against Coastal Carolina. The match will air live on SEC Network +, with the team hoping to extend a three-match win streak.
They will face a tough challenge from the Chanticleers, who are coming off a 25-win season in 2014 that earned them a conference title and a spot in the NCAA tournament. The Gamecocks will aim to stay locked in offensively after a stellar weekend from seniors Sarah Blomgren and Darian Dozier. Start time for Tuesday night will be 6 p.m. at the Carolina Volleyball Center.
South Carolina at a Glance
â€¢ South Carolina enters its fifth season under the direction of head coach Scott Swanson.
â€¢ The Gamecocks went 17-14 overall and 7-11 in the SEC in 2014.
â€¢ The seven SEC wins are Carolina’s most during the Swanson era and the most since going 12-8 in 2008.
â€¢ 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).
â€¢ The Gamecocks’ roster is made up of eight freshmen (seven true freshmen), six juniors, and three seniors.
â€¢ A total of nine states – California (2), Florida (2), Georgia (1), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Nevada (1), North Carolina (1), South Carolina (2), Texas (5) – and Puerto Rico (1) are represented on the Gamecock roster.
Look Who’s Back
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ 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, with fellow freshman Madison Borowski also available to set.
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ 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.
Recapping the Carolina Classic
â€¢ The Gamecocks went 3-0 last weekend in the Carolina Classic, held at the Carolina VB Center. They dropped just one set over the weekend while beating East Carolina (3-0), Charleston Southern (3-1) and Wofford (3-0).
â€¢ The Gamecocks are now have series records of 8-2 against ECU, 7-0 against CSU and won their first-ever meeting with Wofford. Under coach Scott Swanson, Carolina is now 28-1 in home tournament matches and is 5-1 at home this season.
â€¢ Against the Pirates, senior Sarah Blomgren hit a career-best .609 for the match, with 15 kills. Her kill total is just two off her career high of 17, which was recorded during a four-set match against Georgia last season. Dessaa Legros finished with 12 kills in just 18 swings and also recorded the third solo block of her career. Her .444 hitting percentage is a new season-best.
â€¢ In the Charleston Southern match, South Carolina defense held the Buccaneers to just a .054 hitting percentage for the match. It was the lowest percentage allowed all season, beating out the .080 recorded by N.C. Central on Aug. 29. Aubrey Ezell recorded her seventh double-double of the season after finishing with 48 assists and 16 digs. She also set a new career-best with five kills.
â€¢ To cap the weekend, the Gamecocks swept upstate rival Wofford thanks to a momentum-shifting effort from senior Darian Dozier. She put down 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.
â€¢ The Gamecocks hit .284 as a team over the three matches during the Carolina Classic, but held their opponents to just a .099 percentage.
Carolina’s All-Tournament Accolades
â€¢ Junior outside hitter Dessaa Legros earned her third-straight All-Tournament honor after recording 20 kills, five digs and a career-high four blocks against the Broncos as part of the Michigan Challenge.
â€¢ Earlier this month, Legros earned a spot on Furman’s Carolina Classic All-Tournament Team as she averaged 4.23 kills and 2.62 digs per set.
â€¢ Junior DS/Libero Megan Kirkland was also named to Furman’s Carolina Classic All-Tournament Team after averaging 3.92 digs per set and recording five service aces.
â€¢ At the Carolina Classic, a home tournament, senior Sarah Blomgren was named the MVP and Darian Dozier made the All-Tournament team. Blomgren recorded 41 kills over the three matches, and Dozier added 33 kills and five blocks.
“State”-ing Their Case
â€¢ After earning wins over fellow South Carolina schools Wofford and Charleston Southern in the Carolina Classic, the Gamecocks are now 5-0 against in-state rivals this season.
â€¢ The Gamecocks are now 119-56 against South Carolina school in program history, and do not have a losing record against any individual opponent.
Gamecocks in the SEC Stats
â€¢ Carolina ranks fourth in the league in digs (15.14 per set) and seventh in hitting percentage (.225).
â€¢ Junior outside hitter Dessaa Legros ranks third in kills per set (3.79), fifth in kills (159) and seventh in points per set (4.07).
â€¢ Senior middle blocker Darian Dozier ranks 10th in hitting percentage (.336).
â€¢ Freshman setter Aubrey Ezell ranks fifth in assists (452) and seventh in assists per set (10.51).
When Carolina Wins
â€¢ The Gamecocks out-hit opponents .280-.117.
â€¢ Carolina out-digs opponents 16.28-13.2 per set.
â€¢ The Gamecocks have out-blocked opponents 55-40 in total blocks and 2.2-1.6 in blocks per set.
â€¢ Carolina has 35 service aces, averaging 1.4 per set.
When Carolina Loses
â€¢ Carolina’s opponents hold a .282-.154 advantage in hitting percentage.
â€¢ Opponents out-dig the Gamecocks 15.4-13.6.
â€¢ The Gamecocks still hold a minor edge in blocks (36-30) and blocks per set (2.0-1.7).
â€¢ Carolina has committed 33 service errors to just 11 aces and have a serve percentage of .907.
â€¢ Senior middle blocker Darian Dozier continues to climb the school’s career records list for block assists and total blocks. Dozier currently ranks sixth all-time in block assists (325) and eighth in total blocks (359). Recently, she passed Lori Drost (349; 1994-97) in total blocks.
A Long-Awaited Homestand
â€¢ Last weekend’s tournament will be the team’s first match at the Carolina Volleyball Center since opening the regular season with the Gamecock Invitational. When the team kicks off against East Carolina on Friday, it will have been 20 days between home matches.
â€¢ The two road tournaments prior to that marked the longest road stretch of the season for the team.
Scouting Coastal Carolina
â€¢ The Chants went 25-7 overall in 2014, including a 11-3 record in the Big South. They would win the conference title with a 3-2 win over Radford to make the NCAA tournament, but lost to USC in straight sets in the first round. It was the program’s fourth trip to the national tournament.
â€¢ Coastal Carolina returns six starters from last season’s team and lost five.
â€¢ Coming into Tuesday’s match, CCU has a 7-4 overall record with an ambitious schedule, including 1-3 in true road matches. In the most recent weekend of action, the team played out at the Hawkeye Challenge in Iowa. It swept Drake to open the tournament before losing to the host Hawkeyes in straight sets on Friday and Saturday.
â€¢ The Chanticleers rank first in hitting percentage (.236) and second in kills (12.67 per set) among Big South rivals. Senior Eszter Nagy is leading the conference in hitting percentage (.385) and sophomore Leah Hardeman ranks second in kills (3.83 per set).
â€¢ The team has a rising star in Hardeman; the outside hitter followed up a freshman campaign that saw her win conference player of the year honors with 138 kills through ten matches so far this season. Her average of 3.83 kills per set is almost double the next closest offensive option on the team.
â€¢ Coastal runs two setters and both are ranked in the top ten in the conference. Sophomore Aleksandra Djuric averages 6.74 assists per set, while freshman Sara Boothe is right behind her at 6.43.
â€¢ Family bragging rights will be on the line Tuesday as well, with Dessaa Legros facing off against her sister Annayka.
Series History vs. the Chanticleers
â€¢ Friday’s matchup will be the 13th between the Gamecocks and Chanticleers.
â€¢ Carolina leads the all-time series 12-1, only three matches in the series have gone past three sets.
â€¢ Coastal’s only win in the series came in the most recent matchup, as it swept South Carolina 3-0 last season.
Doing Work in the Classroom and the Community
â€¢ South Carolina had a league-best 12 volleyball players on the 2014 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.
â€¢ The Gamecocks earned the AVCA Team Academic Award for the 2014-15 school year with a cumulative team GPA of 3.34. Carolina has earned the honor four-straight years.
â€¢ The volleyball program was also among the top community service teams in terms of hours at South Carolina last year. The Gamecocks compiled a total of 480.5 community service hours, which breaks down to 28.26 hours per player.
â€¢ Throughout the 2014-15 school year, the Gamecocks gave back to 25 different events and organizations.
â€¢ Former Gamecock great Shonda Cole is in her first season as a full-time assistant coach after serving as volunteer assistant last year.
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ She had a successful professional career, playing one season in Spain, six in Puerto Rico and a half season in France.
â€¢ 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.
â€¢ South Carolina holds a 761-587 (.565) record.
â€¢ The Gamecocks are 168-226 (.426) in SEC play.
â€¢ In matches played at the Carolina Volleyball Center, South Carolina is 170-91 (.651).