Oct. 18, 2015
KNOXVILLE, TENN. – Despite record-setting performances up and down the lineup, the South Carolina volleyball team could not hold off Tennessee Sunday afternoon, losing 3-2 in Knoxville. The Gamecocks (8-13, 1-7 SEC) were led by career bests from hitters Dessaa Legros (22 kills), Sarah Blomgren (20) and Jacqy Angermiller (14). The Volunteers now move to 18-5 overall, 4-4 in the conference.
1st Set: Neither side would get much headway in the first 20 combined points of the first set, there were six ties and four lead changes before either team reached double-digit points. Behind the service of freshman setter Aubrey Ezell, though, the Gamecocks were able to break away.
Ezell took over service at 9-9, and quickly earned back-to-back aces. In all, it would be a five-point run before the Volunteers could break her serve, and Carolina would keep them at least two points behind the rest of the way. The lead would grow as large as seven points, 23-16, and the visitors would cruise to the all-important first set win. Dessaa Legros, Sarah Blomgren and Jacqy Angermiller led the offense, and the defense held Tennessee to under .100 for a combined hitting percentage.
2nd Set: The Carolina offense would get even better in the second set, but Tennessee began to find its rhythm and were able to even up the match at 1-1. It would be a slugfest between the two teams, with the Gamecocks getting more kills but the Vols hitting at a more efficient rate. After hitting just .094 in the first set, Tennessee went .311 in the second set to outlast Carolina.
The home side would stake themselves a number of leads early on, but were unable to stop the Garnet and Black from rallying back. UT leads of 13-10 and 17-13 were quickly erased, and the Gamecocks would actually serve for the set at 24-23 before Tennessee swept the final three points and evened the match.
3rd Set: The Gamecocks would not let the close loss phase them, and used another key run to win the critical third set. After another feeling-out period to begin the set, Tennessee found some daylight and a 13-10 lead. A kill from Elizabeth Johnbull broke serve, and freshman DS Claire Blumenthal served up the team’s big run. Four different Gamecocks would get a kill during the eventual 7-0 run that gave Carolina a big 17-13 lead.
The team held off a brief rally for UT late in the set, and went up 2-1 in the match. The win came thanks to its most efficient hitting set of the day, at .333, along with four blocks and just three attack errors.
4th Set: Carolina’s least efficient set of the day would come at an inopportune time, as it hit just .116 in the fourth set and saw the Vols even the match back up at 2-2. The visitors would lead early in the set, but Tennessee would chip away with small runs again and again before taking over a lead it would not give back. A 6-1 run that began with Carolina ahead 12-9 would be the ultimate difference, as it brought the set into a timeout with the Vols up 15-13. Carolina would get as close as 19-18, but a 4-0 run after that for UT sealed the set.
5th Set: The Volunteers would complete the comeback with a wire-to-wire lead in the fifth set. The home side jumped on Carolina and enjoyed an early 8-3 lead. The Gamecocks would cut it down to two, 11-9, later in the set but would not score again from then on in the 15-9 decision.
Stat of the Match
Carolina hit just .076 in the fourth and fifth sets combined, with 18 kills and 13 errors in 65 swings. It was a stark contrast to the .273 it would swing for during the sets it won, one and three.
The Gamecocks will have a full week to get healthy and prepare for their match at home against Arkansas. The Razorbacks entered their Sunday home match against Ole Miss with a 13-4 overall record, 3-2 in the SEC. They have been in and out of the AVCA Top 25 rankings for the last few weeks and are currently receiving votes. Before coming to Columbia, Arkansas will play at Florida Friday night.
- Aubrey Ezell finished with a new career high of 62 assists. The last time a Gamecock setter had 60 or more in a match was on Sept. 14, 2007, when Jordan Bradosky had 60 vs. Auburn.
- The team set a new season high with 67 total kills, surpassing the previous high of 62 against Winthrop (9/5).
- Along with setting a new career high in kills, Dessaa Legros reached a new career high with 57 total attacks and enjoyed her best hitting percentage since swinging for .444 against East Carolina on Sept. 18.
- It was Legros’ fifth 20-kill match of the season. If you add those five matches together, the total (103) is 47 more than she had over 18 matches as a sophomore.
- The team played without normal starters Darian Dozier or Joely Cabrera. Both were sidelined by injuries.
Quotable: Head Coach Scott Swanson
“I thought that we really played to win for most of the match. We were playing more confident, we were passing really well, we were executing, we were tooling the block a lot. For whatever reason, at some point we went away from that and got stuck in some rotations. Mental errors at the wrong time caused more mental errors and lack of confidence.”