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March 12, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina beach volleyball team went 2-0 in their home opener and first day of competition in the Gamecock Challenge on Saturday at Wheeler Beach.

The Gamecocks began the day with a 4-1 victory over Mercer and finished off the day with a 4-1 win over No. 18 Tulane. With the wins, Carolina improves to 4-3 on the season.

“We’re excited about the wins,” said head coach Moritz Moritz. “We got a good jump on the day. I think we are starting to make some good improvements and adjustments, from play to play and match to match. That’s so important because we stress that every day. We always know that competing against Mercer and Tulane will be tough, so we are happy with the way our girls progressed. They just kept continuing to fight. While we have some things to work on, today was a good step forward.”

In the dual with Mercer, Carolina got off to a strong start, building a 3-0 lead with wins at Nos. 1, 4 and 5. Erin Neuenfeldt and Katie McCormick won in straight sets over Claire Waliczek and Danielle Faust 21-16, 21-15 on the No. 5 court, while Jade Vitt and Delaney Wood defeated Demi-Shay Watchorn and Morgan MacGilvary 21-16, 21-18 at No. 4.

Julia Mannisto and Shannon Williams clinched the win for South Carolina when they dropped Emma and Sophie Peel 21-15, 21-13 at the top spot.

Tori Penrod and Emily Krogman picked up the only point for the Bears with a 21-12, 21-15 victory over Sarah Blomgren and Aubrey Ezell at No. 2. The No. 3 pair of Macie Tendrich and Katie Reilly closed out the match with a 21-19, 21-11 win over Ellie James and Madison Kerr.

In the exhibition match, Lista Darby and Emma Lock fell 23-21, 21-13 to Jessica Johnson and Gretja Otten.

In the win over Tulane, the pairs at Nos. 4 and 5 rallied after both dropping their first sets. Neuenfeldt and McCormick came back from a loss in the first set to earn a 20-22, 21-12, 15-13 win over Sarah Strasner and Miah Diirell on the No. 5 court. Wood and Vitt edged Bri Correa and Claudia Lemieux 14-21, 21-18, 15-12 at No. 4.

Tendrich and Reilly picked up their fifth win of the season and secured the match for the Gamecocks when they downed Anna Chin and Hannah Holmes 21-10, 21-18 in the No. 3 spot.

The Gamecock tandem of Blomgren and Ezell defeated Madeline Mertz and Lan Nguyen 21-19, 21-18 on the No. 2 court. Tea Juric and Jackie Wegner claimed the lone point for the Green Wave when they edged Mannisto and Williams 21-19, 21-18 at No. 1.

In the exhibition match, Darby and Darian Dozier topped Lindsey Huber and Christina McAfee 21-17, 21-15.

Dual Results
South Carolina 4, Mercer 1

1: Julia Mannisto/Shannon Williams (SC) def. Emma Peel/Sophie Peel (MU) 21-15, 21-13
2: Tori Penrod/Emily Krogman (MU) def. Sarah Blomgren/Aubrey Ezell (SC) 21-12, 21-15
3: Macie Tendrich/Katie Reilly (SC) def. Ellie James/Madison Kerr (MU) 21-19, 21-11
4: Jade Vitt/Delaney Wood (SC) def. Demi-Shay Watchorn/Morgan MacGilvary (MU) 21-16, 21-18
5: Erin Neuenfeldt/Katie McCormick (SC) def. Claire Waliczek/Danielle Faust (MU) 21-16, 21-15
Exh.: Jessica Johnson/Gretja Otten (MU) def. Litsa Darby/Emma Lock (SC) 23-21, 21-13

South Carolina 4, #18 Tulane 1
1: Tea Juric/Jackie Wegener (TU) def. Julia Mannisto/Shannon Williams (SC) 21-19, 21-18
2: Sarah Blomgren/Aubrey Ezell (SC) def. Madeline Mertz/Lan Nguyen (TU) 21-19, 21-18
3: Macie Tendrich/Katie Reilly (SC) def. Anna Chin/Hannah Holmes (TU) 21-10, 21-18
4: Jade Vitt/Delaney Wood (SC) def. Bri Correa/Claudia Lemieux (TU) 14-21, 21-18, 15-12
5: Erin Neuenfeldt/Katie McCormick (SC) def. Sarah Strasner/Miah Diirell (TU) 20-22, 21-12, 15-13
Exh.: Litsa Darby/Darian Dozier (SC) def. Lindsey Huber Christina McAfee (TU) 21-17, 21-15