Sept. 16, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – A career night from freshman Mikayla Shields set the tone for the South Carolina volleyball team, as her 19 kills guided the Gamecocks to a 3-0 sweep of Davidson (4-7) Friday night in the Carolina Volleyball Center. Playing in front of a boisterous crowd of 1,540 fans, South Carolina was locked in on both sides of the net to secure the 25-16, 25-14, 25-21 win and move to 10-0 this season.
1st Set: Davidson took a brief early lead to start the match, but a key run behind the serve of Aubrey Ezell righted the ship for the Gamecocks. Ezell took over service with the Wildcats ahead 11-9 and guided the team to a 6-0 run that eventually grew out to 11-1. After opening the run with an ace, Ezell set up kills from Shields and Jacqy Angermiller to force a Davidson timeout.
The Wildcats leaned too heavily on tips and roll shots in the set, and Carolina’s defense was ready. Ezell scooped up six digs and Koko Atoa-Williams added four of her own in the frame, and Davidson ended the set hitting .000 with just eight kills in the 25-16 decision.
2nd Set: Shields and Atoa-Williams carried over the first-set momentum into the second and kept the Gamecocks rolling. Behind the serve of Emma Lock, the home side opened the set with an 8-1 run and never looked back. Shields finished with six kills on just eight swings in the set without a single error, and Atoa-Williams added five more with three digs. As a team, South Carolina finished the set hitting .438, and took a 2-0 lead into halftime behind a 25-14 final in the set.
3rd Set: The third set was a battle, featuring 11 ties and four lead changes before the dust would settle. Davidson maintained a lead for most of the set, albeit never more than three points at any time, but the Gamecocks rallied late behind its southpaw pin. Shields totaled eight kills in the third set alone, and helped slowly but surely swing the tide in Carolina’s favor. Back-to-back kills from her erased a 19-18 Davidson lead, and the Wildcats would not regain the advantage the rest of the way. A big solo block from Alicia Starr — her fourth of the night — put Carolina on match point, and Courtney Koehler scored an ace to close out the win.
Stat of the Match
Shields’ 19 kills were the most by any Gamecock in a three-set match since Juliette Thevenin had 20 against Western Carolina on Sept. 20, 2013. Shields finished the night hitting .500.
- Alicia Starr earned her first career start Friday night, and responded with five kills on six swings and four solo blocks.
- Aubrey Ezell finished with 24 assists and 13 digs in the win, moving her up to 16th in school history for career double-doubles (with 21).
- Friday night was Mikayla Shields’ third match this season with 10 or more kills and a hitting percentage over .500.
- Dessaa Legros had a solid night, with seven kills and a .462 hitting percentage along with five digs and a pair of block assists.
Quotable: Head Coach Scott Swanson
On Mikayla Shields’ performance
“She was unstoppable, it seemed like. I would say the majority of those kills were on high, out-of-system balls and she was just crushing the ball. She was up high and hitting hard, and once and a while she would see the double block and roll it for a kill. There were times where she didn’t kill it but she was really smart about being patient.”
The Gamecocks face two more opponents this weekend, facing off with William & Mary Saturday at 1 p.m. and Gardner-Webb at 7 p.m. Those two sides opened the tournament earlier on Friday, with William & Mary sweeping Gardner-Webb. Admission is free for all Saturday matches.
Tweet of the Match
.@GamecockVolley sweeps away Davidson to stay undefeated on the year. Forever to thee! #Gamecocks pic.twitter.com/7jS7Qxzit7
— Spurs & Feathers (@SpursFeathers) September 17, 2016