Oct. 16, 2016
BATON ROUGE, La. – The South Carolina volleyball team not only snapped its four-match losing streak, but earned its first win at LSU in 13 years after downing the Tigers (7-12, 2-6 SEC) in four sets, 25-19, 20-25, 25-21, 25-22. The Gamecocks (14-5, 2-5 SEC) hit .317 as a team for the match, and passed efficiently with an average of 17.8 digs per set to control the tempo.
1st Set: After tinkering with the lineup at Texas A&M Friday night, the Gamecocks went back to their tried and true look offensively and got out to a strong start. An early 6-1 run gave the Gamecocks the lead, and Jacqy Angermiller started with kills off her first fours swings of the match. Carolina built a 15-10 lead at the media timeout, and offensive efficiency would be the key to the team’s success for the game. Six different players finished with two or more kills in the game, and Carolina hit .484 to take the early 1-0 lead with a 25-19 win.
2nd Set: The Tigers used a pair of early blocks to curb the offensive momentum from the Gamecocks, and the home side built an 8-2 lead to force a Carolina timeout. Runs would be hard to come by for the Gamecocks as they tried to chip away at the early deficit (their largest run for the set was a 4-0 spurt at the end of the set), and LSU maintained a comfortable lead. The match went to halftime tied 1-1 after a 25-20 decision.
3rd Set: Mikayla Shields helped the Gamecocks start strong in the pivotal third set. The freshman accounted for three kills in the team’s first six points and Carolina held a modest lead to start the frame. LSU closed the margin quickly, and the third set would be closely contested until a key call mid-way through. The Gamecocks got an important swing point on a challenge off a 13-all tie, as a Tiger block was called an error instead and Carolina used it to carry a 15-13 lead into the media timeout.
That challenge from head coach Scott Swanson loomed large for the rest of the game. Carolina ran off an 8-1 run after the ruling to take its largest lead of the set at 21-14 and forced LSU into a final timeout. The Tigers would rally back to cut the lead to three, 24-21, but Carolina closed it out for the all-important 2-1 lead in the match.
4th Set: LSU used the blueprint that won it the second set to control the fourth game early on. The Gamecocks were able to get hands on most of the Tiger attacks in the set, but the deflections were either tooled out or could not be scooped up by the back line. LSU found itself hitting at a .517 clip and without an error through its first 14 attacks to take the early 12-6 lead. A 5-1 run for Carolina trimmed the lead to two, 13-11, but kills on four-straight possessions for the Tigers put them back ahead comfortably.
Alicia Starr helped the Gamecocks stick around, pairing a block with a kill to provide Carolina with a 4-0 run to answer LSU’s. After chipping away slow but sure, the set would eventually be knotted back up at 19-all, and after a LSU hitting error the Gamecocks took their first lead in the set since 2-0, with a 21-20 advantage. Dessaa Legros put the team on match point after a pair of kills made it 24-22, and Angermiller capped the win with her eighth kill of the day.
Stat of the Match
The Gamecocks had one of their best passing performances of the season, putting up 71 digs in the match. Four different players eclipsed double-digit digs, led by Megan Kirkland’s 20. It was the second-highest total of the season, behind only the 75-dig performance over five sets against Georgia Southern.
- The win snapped a five-game losing streak for Carolina in the series. The last time the Gamecocks won in Baton Rouge, current assistant coach Shonda Cole was in her freshman season.
- Koko Atoa-Williams popped up a season-high 14 digs, and added 14 kills for her second double-double of the season.
- Aubrey Ezell had her best game of the conference season as well, finishing with 34 assists and 14 digs. She now has five double-doubles this season.
- The Carolina middle hitters were effective all afternoon, as Jacqy Angermiller and Alicia Starr combined for 12 kills and just two errors. Starr also added eight blocks.
- Joely Cabrera finished with 11 digs, tied for a season high. She previously had 11 in the season opener against College of Charleston.
Quotable: Head Coach Scott Swanson
On Koko Atoa-Williams’ 14 kill, 14 dig performance
“She (Koko) helped herself out, because she passed great today. She was giving our setters good balls inside the 10-foot line and they were able to set a tempo ball out to her, where the defense was expecting us to set it back to our right sides. We did a good job with our decision-making and we set Koko at the right times. Even when she didn’t have a great set she kept it in the court, tooled the block or tipped it somewhere. She’s a savvy veteran senior out on the court, she knows how to play the game really well and she stayed really mentally tough today.”
South Carolina will have just one match next weekend, when it travels to Kentucky for a rematch with the nationally ranked Wildcats on Friday, Oct. 21. Match time is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will be available on the SEC Network+ online stream. The Gamecocks and Wildcats faced off les than three weeks ago, with Kentucky winning 3-1 at the Carolina Volleyball Center.