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Oct. 23, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. – After a week off, the South Carolina volleyball team returns to action Sunday against Arkansas. The Gamecocks are looking to break through against one of the SEC’s best teams after showing solid progress through a tumultuous month of October. Sunday will be the first of three-straight home matches, and it will air live on the SEC Network +.

Sunday: Arkansas, 1:30 p.m. | SEC Network+ |
On Twitter: @GamecockVolley
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Scouting Arkansas
– The Razorbacks are coached by Rob Pulliza, who is in his eighth season with the program.
– The team finished the 2014 season with a 15-16 overall record, 9-9 in conference play. Five starters and the libero return from last season.
– Arkansas is already approaching last season’s win total, entering its Friday night match at Florida with a 13-5 overall record. The program already has quality wins over #11 Wisconsin and #9 Florida earlier this season, but has lost three straight coming in to Friday.
– Individually, transfer Pilar Victoria has been unstoppable for the Hogs. In this, her first season after coming in from Texas, she is leading the SEC in kills and points per set (4.77 and 5.31, respectively).
– Victoria is not the only offensive option, however, as Breana Jones (.435) and Chanell Clark-Bibbs (.390) rank in the top ten for overall hitting percentage. Leading the offense is setter Adrien Wohlschlaeger, who ranks fourth in the SEC in assists per set (10.79)

Series History vs. The Razorbacks
– Sunday will be the 34th meeting in the all-time series, with Arkansas leading 23-10.
– The Hogs have won three straight and nine of the last ten meetings. Of Carolina’s 10 total wins in the series, six have come at home.
– In the most recent meeting, the Razorbacks won in five sets in Fayetteville. The Gamecocks won sets three and four to force a deciding set, but could not close it out. Arkansas won thanks in large part to a 70-49 advantage in kills.

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 (six 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 to Arkansas, and be the team’s highest RPI win of the season. The Razorbacks are currently receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 poll and have an RPI of 35.
– Be head coach Scott Swanson’s 70th win at South Carolina, breaking a tie with Kathy Graham (1976-77) for third-most in program history.

Recapping Tennessee (10/18)
– 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 were led by career bests from hitters Dessaa Legros (22 kills), Sarah Blomgren (20) and Jacqy Angermiller (14).
– 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.
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 kills, surpassing the previous high of 62 against Winthrop.
– 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. It was Legros’ fifth 20-kill match of the season.
– The team played without starters Darian Dozier or Joely Cabrera. Both were sidelined by injuries.

Recapping Georgia (10/14)
– The Gamecock volleyball team broke out of their losing streak in a big way Wednesday night sweeping Georgia 25-17, 25-22, 25-20. The win gives Carolina (8-12, 1-6 SEC) its first road and conference wins of the season, and snapped a seven-match losing streak. Dessaa Legros had one of her best nights as a Gamecock, leading the team with 15 kills and adding 16 digs.
– Despite recording just four total blocks in the match, the Gamecocks held Georgia to a .101 hitting percentage in the match. This was the sixth time all season that the team was out-blocked by the opposition, but just the second time the team won while being out-blocked. The Bulldogs entered the night ranked last in the SEC in kills, and finished with 27 total thanks to Carolina’s 71 total digs.
– A big reason for the team’s overall offensive success was the efficiency of the middle attackers. The trio of Dozier, Johnbull and Angermiller combined for 20 kills in 34 attacks.
– This is the first time since 2002 that the Gamecocks won at Georgia in back-to-back meetings.

Over the Last Five Matches…
– The Gamecocks are 1-4, all in conference play. Three of the losses have come in five sets.
Sarah Blomgren leads the team with 74 kills (3.52 per set).
Aubrey Ezell is averaging 11.76 assists and 0.57 aces per set
Darian Dozier has three solo blocks and is averaging 1.27 blocks per set. She also leads the team with a .353 hitting percentage to go with 2.07 kills per set.
– The team is hitting .225 while allowing opponents to hit .202

“State”ing their Case
– After earning wins over fellow South Carolina schools Wofford and Charleston Southern in the Carolina Classic, the Gamecocks are now 4-2 against in-state rivals this season.
– The Gamecocks are 119-57 all-time against in-state school, 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 21 matches, Legros has 265 kills and is averaging 3.53 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).
– Against Tennessee, Dessaa hit 22 kills on the day, her fifth 20-kill game of the season. If you add up her total from those four matches (103), it is 47 more than she had over 18 matches as a sophomore.
– It isn’t just her offense that has come around, she is also seeing career numbers on the receiving end. Her 28 total blocks through 21 matches is eight more than the combined total from 2013 and 2014, and her 143 digs in 75 sets (1.91 per set) is almost three times as many as 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 21 matches. Her efforts have alredy been recognized on the conference level twice, earning SEC Setter of the Week on Sept. 21 and Oct. 5.
– On the road against Tennessee, she went for a new best with 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.
– Against Georgia Wednesday night, she recorded her 13th double-double of the season, putting her 12th in program history for a single season, tied with Kelly Morrow (1993). One more will move her into the single-season top 10.

“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 21 matches this season she has hit .300 or better eight times. Against Mississippi State on Oct. 4, she went for a career-high 20 kills and hit .545 in the five-set loss. It was the third-best hitting percentage in program history for a five-setter.

When Carolina Wins
– The Gamecocks out-hit opponents .273-.115. The team is 7-2 when committing fewer hitting errors.
– Carolina out-digs opponents 17.07-13.96 per set.
– The Gamecocks have out-blocked opponents 59-52 in total blocks and 2.11-1.86 in blocks per set.
– Carolina has 39 service aces, averaging 1.4 per set.

When Carolina Loses
– Carolina’s opponents hold a .253-.173 advantage in hitting percentage.
– The Gamecocks actually have a slight advantage in blocks (95-94.5) and blocks per set (1.90-1.89).
– Carolina has committed 106 service errors to just 52 aces, the opposition has 62 aces with 91 errors.

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 480.5 community service hours, 28.26 hours per player.
– Through the 2014-15 school year, the Gamecocks gave back to 25 different events or organizations.
– Senior Sarah Blomgren was recently featured on the SEC Network 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 volunteers and places them in community development or wildlife/ecosystem preservation work.
– After the recent storm that flooded the midlands of South Carolina, the team joined others from the Athletics Department to give their time to help others. The group spent time at NewSpring Church, processing food donations and helping load bottles of water. In just the first few days after the storm, student-athletes across all sports combined for over 900 hours of community service.

Bull “Doz”Ing Her Way Through the Record Books
Senior middle blocker Darian Dozier is steadily climbing the school’s career records list in blocks. Dozier ranks fourth all-time in block assists (350) and sixth in total blocks (389). Against Texas A&M, she passed Heather Larkin (1994-97) in assists and Libby Ralston (1989-92) for total blocks.

Double-Double the Trouble
Aubrey Ezell recorded her 13th double-double of the season against Texas A&M, putting her into the top 12 in program history for a single season. With just one more this season, Ezell would move into a tie for 10th most in a single season.
– Against Mississippi State, Koko-Atoa Williams recorded her 13th career double-double. The duo are on the cusp of the top 20 in career double-doubles, needing 16 to match Katie Gerst (1992-94).

A SEC Anniversary
The Gamecocks celebrated a special anniversary on Sunday, Oct. 11 against Texas A&M. It was the program’s 400th SEC match of all time, dating back to 1991. In the ensuing years, the team has won double-digit conference matches in six of those seasons and made the NCAA tournament six times as well. The team’s best finish ever came in 2002 under coach Kim Hudson, when it went 14-2 and finished second in the SEC East.

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.
– Professionally, she played 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 762-595 (.563) record as a program, dating back to its first season in 1973.
– In matches played at the Carolina Volleyball Center, South Carolina is 170-93 (.646).
– With 69 career wins, head coach Scott Swanson ranks third in program history for wins. At Georgia, he matched Kathy Graham (1976-77) for third all-time. Kim Hudson (1993-2004) is the program’s wins leader, with 226.

South Carolina Honors Its “First 18”
The Gamecocks are celebrating the history of its women athletes all through the week of Oct. 12. After the implementation of Title IX, South Carolina made 18 scholarships available for female student-athletes for the first time in school history in 1975, with three going to each of the six sports. The teams were also under the direction of the athletics department for the first time. Annette Gibson Lesher, Lee Branch Marks, and Cheryl Grindle were the volleyball program’s first recipients. That 1975 team would win 10 matches under the direction of head coach Vicki Hamilton.