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Nov. 10, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina volleyball team enters its final home stand of the season Wednesday night, hosting Tennessee (20-9, 6-8 SEC) at 6 p.m. The match will air nationally on ESPNU.

Wednesday: vs. Tennessee, 6 p.m. | ESPNU |
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Scouting Tennessee
– The Volunteers are coached by Rob Patrick, the program’s all-time wins leader and longest-tenured coach.
– The team took its lumps last season with just one senior and are reaping the benefits in 2015, highlighted by a 14-0 winning streak to begin the year. The Vols enter the week with a 20-9 overall record and six conference wins. Last weekend, the team lost 3-0 to Texas A&M and 3-1 to Arkansas.
– A big reason for the turnaround this season has been the team defense. Opponents are hitting just .173 against them, second behind only Florida among SEC schools. The team also ranks third in total digs per set, popping up 15.36.
– Individually, Kanisha Jimenez leads the team with 2.92 kills per set, and Erica Treiber adds in 228 kills with a .347 hitting percentage and 1.13 blocks per set. Junior libero Bridgette Villano is third in the SEC with 4.52 digs per set.

Series History vs. The Volunteers
– Sunday will be another installment in what is the longest-running series in South Carolina history. The two met in the Gamecock’s first season of existence in 1973. Tennessee leads the series 37-27.
– Tennessee has won five straight at Carolina, dating back to October 2008. The Volunteers are 10-3 in the series since Carolina’s last home win.
– In the most recent meeting, despite record-setting performances up and down the lineup, the South Carolina volleyball team could not hold off Tennessee on Oct. 18, 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).

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, including five who started 10 or more matches (Koko Atoa-Williams, Darian Dozier, Sarah Blomgren, Jacqy Angermiller, Megan Kirkland).
– Nine states – California (2), Florida (1), Georgia (1), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Nevada (1), North Carolina (1), South Carolina (2), Texas (5) – and Puerto Rico (1) are represented on the 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 returned 5.1 percent (70) of their assists from 2014.
– Carolina returns 41.8 percent (766) of its digs from last season, with a key loss in libero Mikaela Christiaansen.
– 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.

Recapping Alabama (11/8)
– The Gamecock volleyball team continued their late-season surge Sunday afternoon, winning their third match in the last five outings with a 3-0 sweep of Ole Miss, 26-24, 25-21, 26-24. Senior Sarah Blomgren finished with 15 kills to drive the offense. Blomgren now has hit double-digit kills in six straight matches and has six 15-kill performances. In her last five matches, she is leading the team with 3.78 kills per set and is hitting .314.
– The Gamecocks were able to win in the serve-receive game, recording six aces with just eight errors. Ole Miss, who entered the match averaging a SEC-best 1.65 aces per set, had just four aces against Carolina while committing nine errors.
– Kirkland continues to play strong since taking over the role of libero. In the six matches since earning the job, she is averaging 4.26 digs per set and has a serve reception percentage of .968.
– In her return after missing the match against Florida, Darian Dozier had six kills with a pair of blocks. She now moves into a tie for third in school history in block assists, with 358.
– This is the second straight win where the team has been outhit by the opposition. Before the win over Arkansas, the team was 0-12 when hitting at a lower percentage.

Quotable: Head Coach Scott Swanson at Alabama
On the play of Blomgren and Dozier
“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.”

Recapping Auburn (11/6)
– Despite season-best performances from their middle hitters, the Gamecocks were unable to rally back from an early deficit in a 3-1 loss at Auburn (25-16, 25-23, 21-25, 25-23) Friday night. Darian Dozier recorded her first career double-double with 16 kills and 11 blocks, and Liz Johnbull recorded the most kills in a match for her in over two years.
– For as strong as Carolina was up the middle, the Tigers were able to counteract that with a strong night from their outside hitters. Courtney Crable and Breanna McIlroy each went for 16 kills. Auburn finished with a plus-18 margin in kills for the match.
– Thanks to her big night on the block, Dozier surpassed Amy Collinsworth (1990-93) for third in program history in block assists. Also, in career milestones, Dozier surpassed 400 total blocks for her career. She is one of only six Gamecocks to reach the mark. The last player to reach it was Heather Larkin in 1997.
– As a team, Carolina finished with 15 blocks. It was the most in a four-set match this season and the second-most all season. The last time the team had 15 or more block against a SEC opponent was Oct. 24, 2014 against Mississippi State.
Emma Lock set a new career high with a pair of aces. As a team, the Gamecocks committed just four errors on serve, the fewest since Sept. 11 against Pittsburgh.

Over the Last Five Matches…
– The Gamecocks are 2-3, all in conference play.
Sarah Blomgren leads the team with 65 kills (3.72 per set) and is hitting .238.
Darian Dozier has committed just nine hitting errors over 15 total sets played in this stretch, averaging 3.20 kills per set with a .386 hitting percentage
– As a team, Carolina has been out-hit .270-.214 by opponents
– The Gamecocks are averaging 2.28 blocks and 1.17 aces per set

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. At Alabama Sunday, Legros passed 300 kills for the season. To contrast that, she had 187 kills in 47 matches over her first two seasons with the team (1.62 kills/set) and had just 56 all of last season.
– In the first meeting gainst 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 34 total blocks through 26 matches is 14 more than the combined total from 2013 and 2014, and her 163 digs in 93 sets (1.75 per set) is more than 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, starting every match so far without missing a single set. Her efforts have alredy been recognized on the conference level three times, earning SEC Setter of the Week on Sept. 21 and Oct. 5 and Freshman of the Week on Oct. 19.
– 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.
– At Alabama, she recorded her 15th double-double of the season. She is now tied for 8th in program history for a single season, and needs just one more to enter the top 20 for career double-doubles.

“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. She hit .217 as a junior in 2014, but through 26 matches this season she has hit .300 or better eleven times and has a season average of .251.
– Against Mississippi State on Oct. 4, she went for a 20 kills and hit .545 in the five-set loss. It was the third-best hitting percentage in program history for a five-setter.
– On Sunday at Alabama, she recorded her third 20-kill effort in a ten-game stretch, finishing with a new career high of 22. On top of that, she recorded her first career double-double after tallying another career high with 10 digs.

When Carolina Wins
– Six wins have come in three sets, three in four sets and one (Arkansas) in five.
– The Gamecocks out-hit opponents .260-.140. The team is 8-1 when out-hitting the opposition.
– Carolina out-digs opponents 16.69-14.20 per set and averages 3.5 more kills per set.
– The Gamecocks have out-blocked opponents 75-65 in total blocks and 2.14-1.86 in blocks per set.
– Carolina has 50 service aces, averaging 1.43 per set.

When Carolina Loses
– Carolina’s opponents hold a .261-.180 advantage in hitting percentage. The Gamecocks are 2-14 when being out hit in a match.
– The Gamecocks allow almost two kills and a dig more per set. The team is just 1-11 when being out-killed and out-dug.
– Carolina has committed 124 service errors to just 62 aces, the opposition has 72 aces with 119 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 third all-time in block assists (366) and fifth in total blocks (408).
– Against Auburn, she matched her career high with 11 blocks and passed Amy Collinsworth (1990-93) for third in block assists. She became the sixth Gamecock ever to pass 400 career blocks, and the first since 1997.

Double-Double the Trouble
Aubrey Ezell recorded her 15th double-double of the season Sunday at Alabama, putting her into a tie for 8th in program history for a single season. It is the most by any Gamecock since Ivana Kujundzic in 2008. She now is one away from entering the program’s career list for the category.

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 764-598 (.563) record as a program, dating back to its first season in 1973.
– In matches played at the Carolina Volleyball Center, South Carolina is 172-94 (.646).
– With 71 career wins, head coach Scott Swanson ranks third in program history for wins. Versus Arkansas on Oct. 25, he broke a tie with 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 in 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.