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Oct. 1, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina volleyball team enters its second weekend of conference action, traveling west for matches against Ole Miss (14-3, 0-2 SEC) and Mississippi State (11-4, 1-1 SEC). The Gamecocks are in search of their first conference win of the season, as well as their first true road win of 2015.

Friday: at Ole Miss, 7:30 p.m. | SEC Network+ |
Sunday: at Mississippi State, 12 p.m. | SEC Network | Live Stats
On Twitter: @GamecockVolley
Match Notes Get Acrobat Reader

Scouting Ole Miss (10/2)
• Now in the second season of Steven McRoberts’ tenure as head coach, the Rebels have started the season on a hot streak, sitting at 14-3 overall. Two of those losses came during the opening SEC weekend, though, as they lost to fifth-ranked Florida and rival Mississippi State in 3-0 decisions.
• A reason for the fast start can be traced to a veteran team that returned all six position starters from last season’s 22-win team, led by senior Nakeyta Clair. After earning AVCA Honorable Mention All-America honors last season, she again leads the offense with 3.16 kills per set and an eye-popping .449 hitting percentage over 345 total attacks. She has only 38 attack errors through 17 matches, five fewer than any other Rebel attacker with 200 or more attacks.
• Just behind Clair offensively is Ty Laporte, the senior middle blocker is averaging 2.42 kills per set and has 50 total blocks. Laporte is from right down the road from Columbia, growing up in Irmo and attending Dutch Fork high school.
• The Gamecocks will need to be aggressive on the attack, as they face an Ole Miss defense that ranks dead last in the SEC in blocks and 11th in digs per set. Opponents are hitting .176 against the Rebel defense, though, putting them sixth in the SEC.
• One statistic to keep an eye on is the efficient way Ole Miss can earn points off the serve. As a team, the Rebels average 1.77 aces per set, best in the SEC and 16th in the country. Their 110 total aces rank seventh nationally.
• Kathryn Cather leads the team with 27 aces, putting her 13th in the NCAA, and Kristen Brashear sits at 36th with 23. This comes despite the fact that the team has missed Melanie Crow for 12 matches; Crow is coming off a sophomore season where she set the program’s single-season record for aces, with 42.

Series History vs. The Rebels
• Friday’s meeting will be the 43rd all-time between Carolina and Ole Miss.
• The Gamecocks lead the series 26-16, and have won two of the last three. Of Carolina’s 26 wins, eight have come on the road.
• In the most recent meeting, The Rebels won 3-0 on Nov. 2, 2014. Sarah Blomgren recorded eight kills and matched her career high with five blocks to lead the Gamecocks in the match.

Scouting Mississippi State (10/4)
• Under the direction of first-year head coach David McFatrich, the Bulldogs have already far surpassed their 2014 win total. They enter the weekend with 11 wins, coming off a season where they won just seven overall and went 2-16 in the SEC.
• MSU returns two starters from last season while welcoming in seven newcomers.
• A major factor behind the team’s turnaround has been defense. Opponents are hitting just .122 against the Bulldogs, the lowest among all SEC schools, and MSU has 114 blocks and average 2.28 per set. Last season, it allowed a .248 hitting percentage and had just 1.83 blocks per set.
• The addition of Evie Singleton has also fueled the turnaround. After following McFatrich from his last job at Central Arkansas, Singleton averages 3.57 kills per set (4th in the SEC) and has 24 service aces through the team’s first 15 matches, which leads the conference.
• Singleton’s addition has aided the growth of senior Alex Warren, who followed up a breakout junior year with an even better pace as a senior. She has improved in her attacks and on the block, averaging 3.07 kills and 0.74 blocks per set, and his hitting over .200 after finishing 2014 at .141.
• Freshman setter Blossom Sato brought a strong background in volleyball to the Bulldogs, with her mother and uncle both playing for the United States national teams, and another uncle working as an assistant coach for the national team. Through the team’s first 15 matches, she is averaging 10.08 assists per set.

Series History vs. The Bulldogs
• Sunday will be the 42nd all-time between Carolina and Mississippi State.
• The Gamecocks have won five of the last six matches, including a season sweep last year. Mississippi State’s last two wins have come while at home.
• In the most recent meeting, the Gamecocks won 3-1 on Oct. 24, 2014. Sarah Blomgren paced the Gamecocks’ attack with a career-high 17 kills while hitting a career-best .538 with just three attack errors.

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 were Carolina’s most during under Swanson and the most since 2008 (12).
• The Gamecocks return 10 letter winners from 2014, including five who started 10 or more matches (Koko Atoa-Williams, Darian Dozier, Sarah Blomgren, Jacqy Angermiller, Megan Kirkland).
• The Gamecocks’ roster is eight freshmen (seven true freshmen), six juniors, and three seniors.
• 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
• 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, with fellow freshman Madison Borowski also available to set.
• 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.

A Win Today Would…
• Snap a three-match losing streak. The last time the team started the conference season 0-2 was in 2011; it would start off 0-8 before beating Ole Miss 3-1 on the road.
• Be the team’s first road win of the season. This has been the longest stretch into a season that the team is winless in true road matches since 2010; in that season it broke the streak at Mississippi State on Oct. 8 after starting 0-4.

Recapping LSU (9/27)
• The South Carolina volleyball team closed its first weekend of SEC competition Sunday afternoon, losing at LSU 3-0. Attack errors held the Gamecocks back from holding onto key rallies, and the Tigers capitalized behind 14 kills from outside hitter Gina Tillis.
• Sarah Blomgren led Carolina with eight kills, it was just the second time all season that the team’s leading attacker finished with single-digit kills. Darian Dozier added six kills and a team-leading .250 hitting percentage; the Gamecocks combined to hit .073 in the match.
• The Gamecocks had just three blocks as a team in the match, which tied a season-low (tied with three vs. Wofford). LSU had nine blocks total. Carolina also committed 22 attack errors.
• LSU now has won five straight in the series and 12 of 13. The Gamecocks have not won in Baton Rouge since 2003.
• Defensive specialist Emma Lock finished with a team-high 11 digs. It was the freshman’s second double-digit dig game so far this season, behind only her 19 against Western Michigan (9/12).

Recapping Kentucky (9/25)
• The South Carolina volleyball team opened SEC play Friday night at the Carolina Volleyball Center, hosting #24 Kentucky. The Wildcats used their height advantage to hold down the Gamecock offense and claimed a 3-0 decision, 25-15, 25-22, 25-18.
• Jacqy Angermiller led the offense with 10 kills in just 20 swings, a new season high for the junior middle blocker. Her .500 hitting percentage over 20 attacks was a season high.
• The Wildcats hit .389 in the second set to overcome a feisty effort from the Gamecocks to even the match. Kaz Brown led the visitors with six kills in the set on 15 attacks. Kentucky was just the third opponent all season to hit over .300 in a match, after finishing at .311.
• The team’s .098 hitting percentage was the lowest of the season, and its 26 total kills were also a season low. It had only 92 total attacks in the match, marking just the fourth time this season that the team did not reach triple digits in attacks.

Over the Last Five Matches…
• The Gamecocks are 2-3, with both wins coming at home
• Sarah Blomgren leads the team with 53 kills (3.12 per set).
• Joely Cabrera is averaging 4.41 digs per set (75 total)
• The team is hitting .164 while allowing opponents to hit .185

Carolina’s All-Tournament Accolades
• 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.
• 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.
• 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.
• 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
• After earning wins over fellow South Carolina schools Wofford and Charleston Southern in the Carolina Classic, the Gamecocks are now 5-1 against in-state rivals this season.
• The Gamecocks are now 119-57 against South Carolina school in program history, and do not have a losing record against any individual opponent.

Legros Enjoying Breakout Year
• Junior outside hitter Dessaa Legros has been the team’s biggest breakout star of the 2015 season so far, rocketing past her freshman and sophomore season outputs. Through 13 matches, Legros has 172 kills and is averaging 3.74 kills per set. To contrast that, she had 187 kills in 47 matches over her first two seasons with the team (1.62 kills/set)
• Her increased kills have been a by-product of a higher swing percentage. After posting .111 and .104 attack percentages over her first two seasons, she is currently hitting with a .224 success rate.
• It isn’t just her offense that has come around, she is also seeing career numbers on the receiving end. Her 18 total blocks through 13 matches is just one off the combined total from 2013 and 2014, and her 73 digs in 46 sets (1.59 per set) is already 20 more than she had over the 115 sets as a freshman and sophomore.

Set it and Forget it
• The Gamecocks entered the 2015 season without a returning setter on the roster, but freshman Aubrey Ezell has played like a veteran through her first 15 matches. Her efforts were rewarded on Monday, Sept. 21 when she was named the SEC Setter of the Week. It came on the heels of her performance at the Carolina Classic, where she passed out 140 assists over three wins.
• At LSU, she finished with 11 digs and added 19 assists. It was her tenth double-double of the season, putting her on the cusp of entering the top 25 for most double-doubles in a single season.

“Bloms” Away
Senior outside hitter Sarah Blomgren is another Gamecock in the midst of a career year, and it is largely thanks to a focus on accuracy. In the Carolina Classic, Sarah finished with 41 kills in three matches, but hit a combined percentage of .474. She committed just five errors in 76 total attacks that weekend. She hit .217 as a junior in 2014, but through 15 matches this season she has hit .300 or better six times.

When Carolina Wins
• The Gamecocks out-hit opponents .280-.117.
• Carolina out-digs opponents 16.28-13.2 per set.
• The Gamecocks have out-blocked opponents 55-40 in total blocks and 2.2-1.6 in blocks per set.
• Carolina has 35 service aces, averaging 1.4 per set.

When Carolina Loses
• Carolina’s opponents hold a .270-.134 advantage in hitting percentage.
• Opponents out-dig the Gamecocks 15.32-14.07.
• Opponents hold a minor edge in blocks (57.5-53) and blocks per set (2.05-1.89).
• Carolina has committed 54 service errors to just 20 aces and have a serve percentage of .902.

Records Watch
Senior middle blocker Darian Dozier continues to climb the school’s career records list for block assists and total blocks. Dozier currently ranks fifth all-time in block assists (333) and eighth in total blocks (368). Against Kentucky, she passed Jennifer Guess (1990-93) in career block assists.

Doing Work in the Classroom and the Community
• South Carolina had a league-best 12 players on the 2014 SEC Fall Academic Honor Roll.
• 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.
• 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.
• Throughout the 2014-15 school year, the Gamecocks gave back to 25 different events and organizations.
• Senior Sarah Blomgren was recently featured for her work this summer, spending four weeks with the International Student Volunteer organization in Costa Rica. ISV is a global volunteer organization that takes college students and other volunteers and places them in community development or wildlife/ecosystem preservation opportunities. In addition to building a road and working on the farm, Blomgren worked at the local elementary school and taught the children some English.

Coming Home
• 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.

All-Time Records
• South Carolina holds a 761-589 (.564) record as a program, dating back to its first season in 1973.
• The Gamecocks are 168-227 (.425) in SEC play. The team joined the conference in 1991.
• In matches played at the Carolina Volleyball Center, South Carolina is 170-93 (.646).
• With 68 career wins, head coach Scott Swanson ranks fourth in program history for wins. He is just one win away from matching Kathy Graham (1976-77) for third with 69. Kim Hudson (1993-2004) is the program’s wins leader, with 226.