Sept. 4, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – It was a rivalry match that proved to be worth the wait, as South Carolina defeated Clemson 3-1 Sunday afternoon, making up for the Friday match postponed due to weather. A well-balanced Gamecocks offense, led by 13 kills from Koko Atoa-Williams and 12 from Jacqy Angermiller, held off a tremendous effort from Clemson’s Leah Perri (26 kills).
With the win, South Carolina moves to 6-0 for the season, the program’s best start since 2012, and it clinched the Carolina Classic tournament title. Dessaa Legros earned tournament MVP honors after finishing with 25 kills and seven blocks, and Atoa-Williams and Angermiller joined her on the All-Tournament team. On top of all the on-court excitement, the Gamecocks also welcomed in a crowd of 2,041 fans Sunday, a new program record.
1st Set: The pace of play on the court matched the level of excitement in the stands to start out the match, as the two teams battled for a foothold. Clemson held the lead early, but never could get further than three points clear of Carolina. The offense looked to freshman Mikayla Shields for consistency, and she delivered with six total kills in the frame. Her presence on the attack would later prove to be valuable in a different way, as the Tigers defense’s focus on her opened up the offense to a handful of other hitters.
Clemson maintained the lead for most of the set, and were pressuring for the win with a late 22-20 advantage. The Gamecocks stoked the crowd with kills from Claire Edwards and Jacqy Angermiller to tie the set up at 23-all, then an emphatic block from Angermiller and Legros flipped the lead to South Carolina’s favor for the first time since it was 3-2 and the Tigers would not recover. Atoa-Williams put a stamp on the 25-23 win with a kill to end it.
2nd Set: After both teams hit well over .400 in the opening frame, the second set would be a grinder. The Gamecocks would be their own worst enemy, committing 11 attack errors while Clemson had just nine kills — its lowest of any of the four sets.
It was a promising start for Carolina, thanks to a 4-0 run off the opening whistle, but the offense met a foe it had not seen to through the first 10 sets of the weekend — physical net defense. The Tigers out-blocked the Gamecocks 5-0 in the set, and what balls were blocked down were deflected favorably for the back-row defense for Clemson. The Gamecocks had a chance to still win despite a big rally from the opposition, holding a 22-21 lead late, but Clemson scored the final four points of the set. South Carolina hit just .091, and while Clemson would not be much better (.200), it would be enough to even the match at 1-1.
3rd Set: The team took the court out of the break facing its first must-win situation of the season, and it leaned on its core of seniors to get the job done. Early kills from Legros and Atoa-Williams and two blocks by Angermiller staked the team an early 12-7 lead, and Atoa-Williams’ versatility helped the Gamecocks expand out their lead as the set went on. An ace from her to make it 19-12 forced Clemson into a timeout, and the Tigers would not be able to recover from the deficit. The crowd coerced a service error from Clemson to close out the third set, 25-21, and put the Gamecocks ahead 2-1.
4th Set: The Tigers pushed hard for a fifth set, jumping out to a quick 11-4 lead in the fourth. The Gamecocks were able to bounce back and slowly began to chip away at the lead. It wouldn’t be one big run, rather small bursts of two to three points at a time, but soon enough the lead would be down to just one, 15-14, and Clemson was forced into a timeout. From that point on, the set was bitterly contested, with four ties and four lead changes over the final 10 points alone
Jacqy Angermiller provided the most critical points of the set, from either side of the net. Trailing 22-21, she started with a kill, then followed with a solo block on the very next play to flip the score around for good. Atoa-Williams put the finishing touches on the win, with back-to-back kills to seal the 25-23 win.
Stat of the Day
The offensive flow played to South Carolina’s advantage Saturday, as each of the starting five hitters put down six or more kills and four had nine or more. Abreia Epps added eight more off the bench, and Aubrey Ezell had three key kills as the setter.
The Gamecocks head back on the road next weekend, as they travel to Statesboro, Ga. for the Springhill Suites Invitational, hosted by Georgia Southern. The weekend features another ACC opponent with Wake Forest Friday morning, followed by Buffalo in the afternoon and Georgia Southern Saturday night.
- The Sunday attendance record broke the previous high of 1,807, set against Ole Miss on Sept. 26 of 2014. Of the program’s top 10 attendance marks, eight have come under head coach Scott Swanson.
- Clemson’s win in the second set snapped a streak of 16 straight sets won by the Gamecocks.
- Angermiller’s .625 hitting percentage is a new career high, and her 12 kills were just two off her personal best.
- Aubrey Ezell’s 33 assists were a season high. She and fellow setter Courtney Koehler also combined for 15 digs.
Quotable: Head Coach Scott Swanson
On the team’s win over Clemson
“I’m extremely proud, through adversity we ended up playing well under pressure. I thought we did a really good job of re-composing ourselves and making a comeback in the fourth set after being down early and often in the early part of that set. I think we showed our true character… I can’t say enough about the leadership, especially of Dessaa, Koko, Megan, they’re leading by example. They’re doing everything the right away, and I’m so glad they’re being rewarded with wins.”
Tweet of the Match
Got the W! Go @GamecockVolley 💪🏾🐔 pic.twitter.com/q1oLr75bfI
— Lauren Ford (@Volleygirl5) September 4, 2016