Sept. 9, 2016
STATESBORO, GA. – A full-team effort was on display Friday night, as the Gamecocks faced off against Buffalo in the second match of the Springhill Suites Invitational. 16 different players saw extended action in the three-set sweep, and the offense had its best night since 2010 to lead the rout, 25-13, 25-20, 25-7. South Carolina improves to 8-0, while Buffalo falls to 0-8.
1st Set: A focus on ball control that plagued the offense in the opening game against Wake Forest helped spark a fast start for the Gamecocks, as the team hit .727 with eight kills on its first 11 swings to take an early 11-4 lead and force the Bulls into a timeout. Abreia Epps and Mikayla Shields each were perfect on three attacks in the opening salvo, and after a pair of aces from Aubrey Ezell the lead expanded out to 16-6.
The Gamecocks would not stray too far from their fast start, finishing the first set with a team hitting percentage of .632. Four different players finished with multiple kills, and the defense limited Buffalo to just six kills and a .000 hitting percentage.
2nd Set: Ezell kept the momentum going into the second set, as she served the team to a 4-0 lead thanks to two more aces. The Bulls would fight back with tough net defense to tie the set up at 6-all, and they would tie it up again late at 17-all, but a 4-0 burst from the Gamecocks put them ahead for good. Errors from Buffalo on the last two points of the set sent the teams into the break with Carolina ahead 2-0.
3rd Set: South Carolina followed the same formula that earned it the big first set win, swinging efficiently on offense and shutting down the Bulls at the net. Despite playing almost its entire bench, the consistency never wavered for Carolina. Alicia Starr built off a great match against Wake Forest with two blocks and a kill, Courtney McKeag recorded her first career ace and kills, and Jesse Turner saw extensive playing time and had a career-high 11 attacks. An early 10-0 run saw a modest 5-2 lead grow to 15-2, and cruised to the 25-7 win and the sweep.
Stat of the Day
As a team, Carolina finished with a hitting percentage of .426 (35-6-68). It’s the first time the team has hit better than .400 in a match since 2014, and it’s the highest hitting percentage in a match since Sept. 10, 2010 when it hit .493 against South Carolina State.
The Gamecocks close out their final road weekend of the non-conference season with a match against host Georgia Southern Saturday night. The Eagles defeated Buffalo to start their tournament, then played Wake Forest Friday night. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m. with the match scheduled to air on ESPN3.
- The Gamecocks limited Buffalo to just seven points in the third set, the lowest total allowed in the rally-scoring era (since 2000).
- Aubrey Ezell finished the match with six aces, the most in a three-set match since Taylor Bruns had six against Alabama on Nov. 6, 2011. The six aces are tied for the fourth-most ever by a Gamecock in a three-setter, and is a new personal best for Ezell.
- Freshman Courtney Koehler recorded her first career double-double in the win, passing out 12 assists with 11 digs.
- The Gamecocks finished with 11 aces to just four errors in the service game Friday night.