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Nov. 19, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The 2015 home season will come to a close this weekend for the South Carolina volleyball team. The Gamecocks will host Mississippi State (14-14, 3-11 SEC) Friday night and Alabama (14-14, 8-6 SEC) Sunday afternoon. The team will celebrate its three seniors at a post-match ceremony Friday. Both matches will air on the SEC Network +.

Friday: vs. Mississippi State, 7 p.m. | SEC Network + |
Sunday: vs. Alabama, 1:30 p.m. | SEC Network + |
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A Salute to the Seniors
The team will bid a fond farewell to three seniors this weekend, in Sarah Blomgren, Darian Dozier and Elizabeth Johnbull. The three have combined to play in 278 matches and are all four-year members of the team. This season, the trio has accounted for 44 percent of the team’s kills and 85 percent of its blocks.

Scouting Mississippi State (11/20)
– Under the direction of first-year head coach David McFatrich, the Bulldogs have already doubled up on their 2014 win total. They enter the weekend with 14 wins, coming off a season where they won just seven overall and went 2-16 in the SEC.
– Mississippi State ranks third in the conference in aces per set, with 1.40. While it has a top-five hitting percentage defense, the team has hit just .188 through 98 sets so far this season.
– Individually, Evie Grace Singleton ranks fifth in kills (3.48 per set) and first in aces (0.44 per set) in the SEC. Singleton (4.09) and middle blocker Alex Warren (3.70) rank fourth and 11th in the SEC in points per set, respectively.

Series History vs. The Bulldogs
– Friday will be the 43rd all-time between Carolina and Mississippi State; the Gamecocks lead 30-12.
– The Gamecocks have won straight at home; since 2010, the home team is 7-2 in the series.
– In the most recent meeting, the Bulldogs won 3-2 in Starkville. Sarah Blomgren hit .545 with 20 kills, and Aubrey Ezell (49 A, 13 D) and Koko Atoa-Williams (10 K, 15 D) recorded double-doubles.

Scouting Alabama (11/8)
– Head coach Ed Allen and the Crimson Tide enter the weekend at 14-14 overall, 8-6 in the SEC with key wins over Missouri and Arkansas. Last weekend, the Tide lost at Florida and beat Auburn at home, both in 3-0 decisions.
– The team returns all six starters and libero from 2014, when it finished 26-8 and 13-5 in the SEC.
– Alabama remains one of the top offenses in the nation, let alone the SEC. Led by outside hitters Krystal Rivers (3.86 kills per set) Kat Hutson (3.63), the Crimson Tide rank third in the SEC behind only Florida and Texas A&M in kills per set.
– Rivers, Hutson and senior setter Sierra Wilson are all coming off 2014 AVCA All-America honors. Rivers made third team, while Hutson and Wilson were honorable mention. Wilson set the career assists record in the team’s most recent match, sitting now at 5,581.

Series History vs. The Crimson Tide
– Sunday will be the 46th meeting between Carolina and Alabama, with the Tide leading 27-18.
– Alabama has won three straight in the series. South Carolina hasn’t won at home since 2011
– In the most recent meeting, the Tide won 3-1 at home just 12 days ago. Sarah Blomgren hit a career-high 22 kills with 10 digs and Darian Dozier added 17 kills.

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, but lost 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 Tennessee (11/11)
– The Gamecock volleyball program opened its final home stand of the season on a high note Wednesday night, sweeping Tennessee. It was Carolina’s first home win over Tennessee since October of 2008.
– The defense at the net was stout, blocking 11 attacks in the match. It was the most blocks in a three-set match this season, and the most overall since Nov. 2 of last season. Dozier and Angermiller each had a pair of solo blocks, the most for Jacqy since Sept. 5 versus Winthrop.
Jacqy Angermiller made her first appearance since Oct. 18, missing the last five matches with an injury. She finished with ten kills and a .450 hitting percentage.
– Tennessee was held to just a .160 hitting percentage, the lowest by an SEC opponent since Georgia hit .101 on Oct. 14. Tennessee hit .228 in the first meeting this season.
Dessaa Legros finished with a .409 hitting percentage, her third game with double-digit kills and a .400 or better percentage so far this season. It last happened against East Carolina on Sept. 18 (.444).

Over the Last Five Matches…
– The Gamecocks are 2-3, all in conference play.
Sarah Blomgren leads the team on offense with 64 kills (3.76 per set) and is hitting .230.
Darian Dozier has committed just seven hitting errors over 14 total sets played in this stretch, averaging 3.21 kills per set with a .392 hitting percentag. She has also chipped in 1.57 blocks per set.
– As a team, Carolina has been out-hit .261-.226 by opponents.
– The Gamecocks are averaging 2.53 blocks and 1.29 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 on Nov. 8, 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.
– It isn’t just her offense that has come around, she is also seeing career numbers on defense. Her 35 total blocks through 27 matches is 15 more than the combined total from 2013 and 2014, and her 166 digs in 96 sets (1.73 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.
– Against Tennessee, she recorded her 16th double-double of the season. She moved into sixth in the single-season list and comes in now at 20 on the career double-double chart.

“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 27 matches this season she has hit .300 or better 12 times and has a season average of .251.
– Her accuracy makes a big difference for the team. In games won by South Carolina, Blomgren is hitting .317. In losses, she has hit .214.

When Carolina Wins
– The Gamecocks out-hit opponents .261-.141. The team is 9-2 when out-hitting the opposition.
– Carolina 2.25 more digs and 3.5 more kills per set.
– The Gamecocks have out-blocked opponents 86-72.
– Carolina has 56 service aces, averaging 1.47 per set, while opponents have just 32 aces with 87 errors.

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 Community
– 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.

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 (373) and fifth in total blocks (417).
– 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 picked up another double-double against Tennessee despite the short match, recording 32 assists and 13 digs. Now with 16 for the season, she moves into sixth in the single-season list and comes in now at 20 on the career double-double chart.

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.

All-Time Records
– South Carolina holds a 765-598 (.561) record as a program, dating back to its first season in 1973.
– In matches played at the Carolina Volleyball Center, South Carolina is 173-94 (.648) all time.
– With 72 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.