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Oct. 4, 2015

Final Stats

STARKVILLE, Miss. — In one of the most memorable matches in series history, the South Carolina volleyball team dropped a tight five-set match at Mississippi State Sunday morning, 25-23, 13-25, 25-23, 20-25, 15-13. The loss drops the Gamecocks to 7-10 (0-4 SEC) while the Bulldogs (12-5, 2-2 SEC) even their conference record.

1st Set: The Bulldogs started the set strong with a 4-1 lead, but the Gamecocks struck around and would take the lead thanks to an 8-0 run. It began with the team trailing 6-4, but a pair of kills from Sarah Blomgren got the run rolling. Darian Dozier and Koko Atoa-Williams pitched in with kills and the Gamecocks doubled up 12-6 early.

The Bulldogs countered with a run of their own, and would tie the set back up at 13. The home side would carry a 22-18 lead, but the Gamecocks took advantage of a pair of attack errors and an ace from Dessaa Legros to tie it up at 22. Mississippi State closed out the set with a pair of kills in a 25-23 decision.
Stat of the Set: Sarah Blomgren recorded seven kills and hit .875 for the set.

2nd Set: Blomgren stayed locked in from the opening whistle, staking the team an early 7-2 lead with three-straight kills. Tough service from Legros would not make life any easier for the Bulldogs, as the junior used back-to-back aces to extend the lead to 13-4 and force a second timeout from the hosts.

It would be the service game that keyed the team’s strong second-set performance, as the Bulldogs were put out of system consistently by Legros, Megan Kirkland and Aubrey Ezell’s serves. Defensively, the Gamecocks forced the Bulldogs to extend themselves and blocked back a number of swings. Darian Dozier would get four block assists in the set, teaming up twice with Ezell and twice with Blomgren.
Stat of the Set: Mississippi State hit just .029 in the set, with seven attack errors and just eight kills on 35 total swings. Carolina hit .381 on 21 swings.

3rd Set: Mississippi State’s service game was strong in the third set, mixing floats and top-spin jumpers to keep the Gamecocks from confidently feeding their hitters. The Bulldogs would overcome an early deficit and tied the set up at 8-8 before taking the lead.

A 6-0 run broke a 12-all tie later in the match and would give the home team a comfortable lead to be even more aggressive on serve. The Bulldogs would finish the set with four aces to overcome a .114 hitting percentage. The Gamecocks would make it interesting late with a 3-0 run that made it 24-23, but it would not be enough.
Stat of the Set: The Bulldogs had four aces, and were able to keep the Gamecocks out of system throughout the set.

4th Set: As it had been all match long, the fourth set was bitterly contested early with neither side able to sustain a run. The Bulldogs took a 15-13 lead into the media timeout thanks to an ace from Evie Singleton, and would force a timeout soon after with an 18-15 advantage.

The Gamecocks came back to tie the set at 20 thanks to a pair of kills from their middles, and Blomgren’s 17th and 18th kills of the match would put them up 22-20 before a MSU timeout. Dozier would spark the team with a gutsy solo block right out of the timeout. She was hurt in the middle of the point being played out, but stuck it out and put down the big block.
Stat of the Set: The Gamecocks had 14 kills and three aces in the set, the most out of any single set for the match.

5th Set: The Bulldogs took control right away in the fifth, starting 4-0 to force a quick timeout from Carolina. The lead would grow all the way to 7-1 before a modest comeback run from the Gamecocks made it 12-9. They would get as close as 14-13 before the Bulldogs closed it out.
Stat of the Set: The Bulldogs had two aces in the set, two in the first four points of the set, and the Gamecocks committed two service errors.

• Blomgren’s 20-kill performance marks the fifth time this season that the Gamecocks have had a hitter with 20 or more kills. Dessaa Legros had the previous four.
• As a team, the Gamecocks finished with 80 digs. It’s a new season high, and the most since Nov. 23, 2014 at Georgia.
• Koko Atoa-Williams (10 kills, 15 digs) and Aubrey Ezell (49 assists, 13 digs) both finished with double-doubles. For Ezell, it is her 11th of the season, moving her into a tie for 20th in program history for most double-doubles in a single season. It was Koko’s second double-double this season.
• For Blomgren, it is the third time this season that she hit double-digit kills with a hitting percentage over .525. Her new career-high of 20 kills surpasses her 17 that came against Georgia last season.

Head Coach Scott Swanson
I thought it was a bit of an ugly match on both sides at times, I’m proud of how our team fought back in set five, we gave ourselves a huge hole to dig out of being down 7-1 but they have some servers that just go after it. I think both of us were trying to serve each other off the court, a lot of aces and a lot of missed serves but overall it’s just another learning experience for us. We were so close to winning that match in three, we just have to change our mentality. It’s confidence in our skills, confidence in each other and building some more trust out there on the court.

Up Next
The team will return home for a pair of SEC matches next weekend, starting on Friday, Oct. 9 against Auburn. The 7 p.m. contest will air on the SEC Network and will be the team’s Alumni Night. Gamecock greats from all over will return to the Carolina Volleyball Center for a special recognition during the match.

Tweet of the Match