Aug. 21, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Gamecock volleyball team closed out their preseason camp with their annual Garnet and Black scrimmage Sunday afternoon, splitting the roster up for four sets of live action.
“I saw a lot of really nice things offensively, we kind of showcased a lot of different weapons and I thought our setters did a really nice job of decision making and setting the right hitter at the right time,” Head Coach Scott Swanson said.
Those options ranged from veteran seniors like Dessaa Legros (15 kills) and Koko Atoa-Williams (12 kills, 14 digs), to up-and-coming attackers like sophomore Courtney Furlong and freshman Mikayla Shields. Furlong led all hitters for the day with 19 total kills, Shields finished with 14. Setters Aubrey Ezell and Courtney Koehler rotated teams throughout the match, and both showed promising chemistry with all their hitters.
For Furlong, the scrimmage was an opportunity to build off her growth in the spring, where she shined during the team’s exhibition schedule.
“For the most part it’s confidence and believing in myself,” Furlong said. “I’m really excited to show other schools and SEC teams that South Carolina is bigger and better than we ever have been, and we’re really excited to prove some people wrong.”
“She (Furlong) lit it up today,” Swanson said. “She hit well on both sides, no one really stopped her, she didn’t make a lot of errors, and some of those balls were some of the hardest hit balls on the day,” Swanson said. “I was very proud of her… it’s about confidence, when she believes in herself, she’s unstoppable.”
The scrimmage also showed what the five-member senior class will be bringing to the table this season. After each battled their own nagging injuries during 2015, Legros, Atoa-Williams and Jaqcy Angermiller went for double-digit kills on Sunday. With all three healthy and on the attack, and defensive standouts Joely Cabrera and Megan Kirkland controlling the ball, Swanson and the coaching staff are optimistic heading into the regular season.
“Just looking out on to the floor, we have more options than we’ve ever had,” Swanson said, as he enters his sixth season leading the program. “We have great right sides, we have great lefts, we have middles who continue to get better, we have back-row attacking, so now we just have to put together that first touch a little more consistently.”
Stat of the Match
Both teams offered diverse offenses with different a setter sometimes on a point-by-point basis, but the team’s hitting percentages were solid. The Black team finished at .323 with 58 kills to 17 errors, the Garnet team hit .277 with 58 kills and 22 errors.
The 2016 regular season gets started with an early test for the team, as it heads to the low country for a weekend tournament hosted by College of Charleston. The Gamecocks will face the host Cougars Friday night, then take on UT-Martin and Binghamton in a Saturday doubleheader.