Nov. 8, 2015
TUSCALOOSA, ALA.- The South Carolina volleyball team had a shootout Sunday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, dropping a four-set match to Alabama, 16-25, 25-20, 25-19, 25-23. Sarah Blomgren hit a career-high 22 kills, and Darian Dozier stayed locked in for the weekend with 17 kills, but the Crimson Tide were able to defend home court and move to 13-13 for the season, 7-5 in the SEC. The Gamecocks fall to 10-16, 3-10 SEC.
1st Set: The Gamecocks were clicking on all cylinders in the first set, hitting .500 on offense and blocking down four attacks while holding the Tide to a .098 hitting percentage. Darian Dozier didn’t show any signs of slowing down after a big night Friday, converting on all six of her attacks out of the gate. She would finish with seven kills, with Sarah Blomgren adding five of her own.
Defensively, Elizabeth Johnbull and Dessaa Legros put down solo blocks, and the back line defense was equally strong. Six different Gamecocks recorded two or more digs in the set, led by four from Megan Kirkland.
2nd Set: The Crimson Tide offense responded in a big way in the second set, helping to even the match up at 1-1 after hitting .432 in the game. The Gamecocks were unable to put down their attacks, hitting .286 despite committing just one error. Alabama would enjoy a plus-11 margin in kills for the set to lead it from start to finish.
3rd Set: Coming into the match, Alabama’s offense had relied on pins Kat Hutson and Krystal Rivers, and Sunday would be no different. The duo, Rivers especially, were strong all afternoon. In the third set, the home side’s offense remained locked in and quickly erased a small early deficit. Rivers would make seven kills while Hutson put down four.
The Gamecocks were able to cut the deficit to two, 15-13, but the Crimson Tide responded with a 6-1 run from there to seal the set and take a 2-1 lead in the match.
4th Set: Needing to win to play on, Carolina started the fourth on a strong note and an early lead. Alabama would use a big run at the midway point of the set to put the pressure on. With the Gamecocks up 10-8, the Tide went on a 7-1 run behind a number of mental errors from Carolina.
Blomgren would not let the game slip away, though, putting down three straight precision kills and helped the visitors tie it back up at 17-all. The game would bounce back and forth until up to 23-all, when Hutson took the final two swings and scored out the set in a 25-23 decision.
Stat of the Match
The match was a showdown of four hitters. The Gamecocks saw Blomgren and Dozier combine for 39 of the team’s 50 total kills, while Alabama had Rivers and Hutson combine for 43. Dozier finished the match with 17 kills and no attack errors in 24 attempts.
The Gamecocks will return home for their final three home matches of the season, starting Wednesday. The team welcomes in Tennessee for a 6 p.m. match that will air nationally on ESPNU. The Volunteers claimed the first meeting earlier this season, winning 3-2 at home on Oct. 18. In that matchup, the Gamecocks were led by career bests from hitters Dessaa Legros (22 kills), Sarah Blomgren (20) and Jacqy Angermiller (14).
- Dessaa Legros passed 300 kill for the season in the first set. The junior outside hitter had just 56 all of last season.
- Sarah Blomgren’s new career high of 22 kills also marked the third time in the last ten matches that she reached 20 kills. Her 52 attacks were also a new career high, and this is the tenth time this season that she has double-digit kills and hit over .300 in a match.
- Today was also Blomgren’s first career double-double, as she also dug up 10 balls. That number is also a new career high for the senior.
- The team committed just 11 hitting errors in the match. It was the lowest since the season opener back on Aug. 28 against Southeastern Louisiana.
- Aubrey Ezell finished with 11 digs to go with her 40 assists. It’s her 15th double-double of the season, putting her in a tie for eighth-most in a single season for the program. With just one more, she’ll enter the top 20 for career double-doubles.
Quotable: Head Coach Scott Swanson
“Darian had an unbelievable match, she had 17 kills and no errors, Sarah Blomgren hit in the 300s with 22 kills, they both tried to carry us as much as they could. We have to pass a little bit better to get everyone else more involved. We mentally get in our own way sometimes when it comes to passing and handling that first ball. It’s probably the reason why we lost tonight, I thought we were playing well at times but just not consistent enough with our ball control.”
Tweet of the Match
Happiest girl ever bc got to see @GamecockVolley while in Tuscaloosa 😊😊😊 🏐🏐 pic.twitter.com/urLGIw5G2v
— Alyson_Clark (@Alyson_Clark) November 8, 2015