Oct. 9, 2015
COLUMBIA, S.C. — The Gamecock volleyball team returned home for the first time since Sept. 25 and hosted Auburn Friday night at the Carolina Volleyball Center. It would be another tight match, with the Tigers (11-5, 3-1 SEC) only outscoring Carolina (7-11, 0-5) by nine points total and prevailing in straight sets, 25-23, 25-20, 31-29. Koko Atoa-Williams led the team with a season-high 16 kills.
1st Set: There would be 12 total ties and four lead shifts in the opening set, with the Tigers earning a modest lead after the first 25 combined points. They would lead 19-16 before a South Carolina timeout, and out of the break the Gamecocks would storm back for a 20-all tie. Carolina took a brief 21-20 lead after an Atoa-Williams kill, but the lead swung back for the Tigers who nursed the one-point advantage until it blocked down an attack from Atoa-Williams for the 25-23 win.
Stat of the Set: The Gamecocks committed four service errors in the set, three of which came with the team either up by one or tied with Auburn.
2nd Set: The Tigers jumped out to an early lead, 6-2, but it would be the Gamecocks that took a lead in to the media timeout. An 8-4 run after that early deficit tied the set a 10, and a pair of kills from Atoa-Williams after that put Carolina up 16-13.
The Auburn on-the-net defenders would be the difference down the home stretch of the set, blocking back-to-back attacks to take an 18-17 lead. From that point on, the Gamecocks would finish with just one kill, and were out-scored 11-3 in total after enjoying their biggest lead of the set (at 17-14).
Stat of the Set: Carolina hit .091 in the set, committing seven attack errors. The Tigers used a .324 hitting percentage to overcome four service errors of their own in the set.
3rd Set: Coming out of the halftime break, the Gamecocks appeared motivated after going down 2-0. Kills from Courtney Furlong, Sarah Blomgren and Atoa-Williams would stake an early 6-2 lead, but Auburn countered with a 9-3 run right after that to take an 11-9 lead. Carolina would fall behind 17-13 before a timeout sparked an important run. With Atoa-Williams on serve, a 6-0 run swung the set back around and got the CVC crowd on its feet.
The service game would vex both teams late in the set, as both side searched for the decisive run. The Tigers had double match point at 24-22, but back-to-back kills from Blomgren tied up the set and forced a timeout. From that 24-all tie on, Auburn would serve for the match three times and Carolina had three chances to extend the match. Two service errors would come with the team trying to close it out (up 28-27 and 29-28), and the Tigers took advantage of the extra chances and reeled off three-straight points to win the match with a 31-29 set.
Stat of the Set: Koko Atoa-Williams finished with seven kills third set alone. That’s more kills than she had in 11 different matches this season.
The Gamecocks will host Texas A&M on Sunday at 1 p.m. at the CVC, and will air nationally on the SEC Network. Admission again will be free, and the United Way Midlands will be there collecting donations outside the student entrance on the Park Street side of the gym. They will be there from noon to 1:30. The organization said that diapers, baby wipes and canned goods (with pop tops) are items that are needed the most at this time.
- The 12 service errors are the most by the Gamecocks this season in a three-set match. Four different players had two or more errors.
- Megan Kirkland saw her first action as libero since the team’s Sept. 11 match at Michigan. She finished with 14 digs for her sixth double-digit effort of the season.
- There were 28 total ties and 11 lead changes over the three sets.
- Koko Atoa-Williams’ 16 kills give her back-to-back matches with ten or more kills. It’s the first time since a doubleheader on Sept. 5 that she had two straight games with double-digit kills
- The 60 total points played in the final set are a season high, surpassing the 58 in the second set of the team’s match at Furman.
Quotable: Head Coach Scott Swanson
“Very disappointed, because I thought at times we played well enough to win that match in three. It’s just a mentality thing, we get so in our own heads sometimes we don’t allow ourselves to win and that’s what we’re talking about — trying to change the mental outlook on what we’re doing out there so we free ourselves up to take more risk and go after it.”