Nov. 6, 2016
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Backed by one of its best games in the last decade behind the service line, the South Carolina volleyball team swept Georgia (13-12, 1-11 SEC) Sunday afternoon — 28-26, 25-18, 25-18 to run its season record to 17-7, 5-7 in the SEC. Mikayla Shields led the way with six aces and 11 kills, and the Gamecock offense hit .378 to secure the first back-to-back wins of the conference season.
1st Set: Despite the sweep, it was a slow go for South Carolina to start the match. Georgia hit .344 in the opening game and were leading deep into the action before the Gamecocks rallied. The Bulldogs took a slight lead and held tight, eventually stretching out to a 20-16 margin before Carolina tied it back up at 21-all thanks to back-to-back tandem blocks from Claire Edwards and Shields.
Georgia put the set on the bring after running off the next three points though, but the South Carolina offense fended off three straight set points to tie it back up at 24. Georgia held off a set point at 26-25, but a dump kill from Aubrey Ezell and Shields’ fifth kill of the game sealed the comeback win.
2nd Set: The second set continued to be the Shields Show, as the freshman led a commanding 13-0 run early to put the Gamecocks in the driver’s seat and ahead 2-0 in the match thanks to a 25-18 win. Georgia claimed a 5-2 lead before Shields went behind the line to serve. When the dust settled on the run, the Gamecocks totaled three aces from Shields, two blocks from Jacqy Angermiller, two kills from Courtney Furlong and had a 15-5 lead. Shields added four more kills in the game, and four other Gamecocks had two or more kills as part of an offense that hit .370.
3rd Set: The offensive efficiency was ramped up for the home side as it looked to close out the sweep in the third set. Five players had three kills in the set, and South Carolina committed just three hitting errors on 31 swings (.452) There were seven ties and four lead changes in the first 18 combined points of the set as the two teams jockeyed for positioning, but Megan Kirkland gave the Gamecocks some breathing room with her second ace of the day and a 4-1 burst that provided all the separation they needed. Georgia got back within one at the media timeout when it was 15-14, but Shields’ sixth ace of the match was the cherry on top of a 4-0 run that put the set out of reach for good.
Stat of the Match
The Gamecocks’ 12 aces were a season high, surpassing the 11 they had against Buffalo on Sept. 9. The team’s best performance in SEC play coming in was just five, and it had not recorded 12 aces combined over the previous four matches.
- The last time South Carolina had 12 aces in a three set match was on Sept. 8, 2007 against Appalachian State. The total is the best in any three set match in the SEC so far this season.
- Mikayla Shield’s six aces are tied for the second-most in a three set match in program history. Megan Hosp holds the record with eight, and eight other Gamecocks have had six — including Aubrey Ezell earlier this year against Buffalo.
- South Carolina hit .378 as a team on Sunday, the best of the conference season and the third-best overall for 2016.
- The offense came out in a single-setter look run by Ezell. The sophomore finished with 38 assists, five digs, four kills and three aces.
- South Carolina’s middle hitters benefitted from the new offense, as Claire Edwards and Jacqy Angermiller combined for 19 kills and just three errors for the day.
Quotable: Head Coach Scott Swanson
On Mikayla Shield’s performance behind the serving line
“I think she just puts pace on the ball and she’s such a good athlete that when she’s jump floating, she’s almost hitting the ball down on the passers. It’s a straight, line-drive, tough float serve to pass… she’s got a good arm and we’ve been riding that arm lately, she’s been getting us a lot of points from the service line and in the front row and back row attacking.”
South Carolina has a challenging weekend ahead, as it takes on the top two teams in the SEC. On Friday, the team travels to take on No. 6 Florida (22-2, 12-1 SEC) in Gainesville. On Sunday, Missouri (21-4, 12-1 SEC) will come to the Carolina Volleyball Center in a rematch of the conference season opener from September.