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Nov. 11, 2016


Friday: at #6 Florida, 7:00 p.m. ET | Live Stats | SEC Network+/WatchESPN
Sunday: #21 Missouri, 4:00 p.m. ET | Live Stats
Fan Info:
Ticket Info | Home Promotions | 2016 Parking/Directions

GAINESVILLE, FLA. – A pair of nationally ranked opponents await the South Carolina volleyball team this weekend. The Gamecocks travel to No. 6 Florida Friday night, then welcome in No. 21 Missouri for a 4 p.m. match on Sunday.

Sunday will offer a host of fun activities and deals for fans. It will be the program’s “daddy and daughter date day”, where for just $8, families can get two tickets to the match, a pre-game photo and a commemorative picture frame. Sunday will also be the MyCarolina Alumni Association Day, where fans with an alumni association card can get in to the match for just $1.

Florida enters the week ranked 6th in the AVCA Top 25, and have not lost since Sept. 28 (10 straight wins). The Gators boast the nation’s top offense, hitting .342 as a team, and are averaging 14.42 kills per set. Leading the offense are pins Carli Snyder (3.61 kills per set) and Alex Holston (3.67), with middle Rhamat Alhassan also averaging over three kills per set (3.13) while hitting .422. Alhassan is also a formidible blocker who is averaging 1.52 per set. Joining her in the middle this season is Rachael Kramer, a 6-foot, 8-inch freshman who is putting up 1.13 blocks per set and a .529 hitting percentage. The Gators have dropped just two sets total during their 10-game win streak, which included a win over Carolina on Oct. 9. In that meeting, the Gamecocks hit just .030.

The Tigers are rolling through conference play, and come into the weekend after a big 3-0 win at No. 18 Kentucky last Sunday to move them to 12-1 in the SEC and 21-4 overall. The win in Lexington helped vault the Tigers up to 21st in the latest AVCA Top 25 poll. Six starters and 11 letterwinners return from a 2015 roster that went 27-6 overall and finished second in the SEC with a 14-4 record. On offense, the team averages almost than two kills per set more than the opposition and has five different players pitching in 1.80 kills per set or more. Melanie Crow, a transfer from SEC rival Ole Miss, has stepped right in and led the way with 3.82 kills, 2.24 digs and 0.46 aces per set so far this season, marking a very successful return from an injury that cost her all but five matches of 2015 in Oxford. Rounding out the attack are All-American performers Kira Larson (2.17 kills/set) and Alyssa Munlyn in the middle and Carly Kan (3.08 kills/set) on the outside. Defensively, Munlyn is averaging 1.33 blocks per set and the Tigers as a team rank third in the SEC with 2.70 blocks per set and are holding opponents to just a .181 hitting percentage. In the first meeting between the two teams, Mizzou out-hit Carolina .367 to .137 in a three-set sweep.


  • The Gamecocks are now 4-0 in five set matches this season after the win at Mississippi State, but this is the first time since Sept. 5 of last season that the team came back from a 2-0 deficit.
  • Mikayla Shields’ 23 kills against Mississippi State are a new season best. The freshman pin had five kills in the fifth set and seven in the fourth to power the comeback.
  • Three different Gamecocks recorded a double-double in the win in Starkville: Mikayla Shields had 23 kills and 10 digs, Dessaa Legros had 17 kills and 12 digs and Aubrey Ezell totaled 43 assists and 12 digs. This is the second time this season the team had three in a match, the last being Georgia Southern.
  • South Carolina hit .378 as a team on Sunday vs. Georgia, 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, against Georgia. 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.

The Gamecocks’ 12 aces against Georgia on Sunday 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.

Early season tests on the road at Georgia Southern and Wake Forest have helped the Gamecocks be, as senior Dessaa Legros put it, “comfortable being uncomfortable”. The team is 4-2 in four-set matches and 4-0 in five-set matches so far this season, highlighted by the comeback Friday night at Mississippi State. Carolina trailed 2-0 in the match, but battled back to win despite trailing 20-16 late in the third set and 13-12 in the fifth. Over the four five-set matches, the Gamecocks are out-hitting opponents .271 to .196 in the fourth and fifth sets.

The Gamecocks face one of the toughest conference schedules of any team in the SEC, with an 18-game slate that features two matches apiece against the top four teams in the conference – Florida, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas A&M. The Gamecocks’ first ten SEC opponents currently have a combined conference record of 76-57 (.571), facing Kentucky and Texas A&M twice and the other top two teams (Missouri and Florida) once. No other team in the conference plays each of the aforementioned top four twice this year.

The team has received a big lift from a trio of freshman at key positions this season:

  • Mikayla Shields leads the team with 3.06 kills per set, and his hitting an impressive .316 for the season despite hitting from the outside. So far this season, she has 14 matches with double-digit kills (highlighted by a season-high 23 at Mississippi State) and has hit over .500 seven times.
  • Courtney Koehler has stepped in as a setter in the team’s 6-2 offense and is averaging 4.46 assists and 1.25 digs per set. On top of her setting skills, she has been a clutch server, with 11 aces and the team’s best serve percentage (eight errors in 275 attempts).
  • Alicia Starr had to earn her spot in the starting lineup mid-season, after being trained at an entirely different position than she played in club and high school. She is averaging 1.11 kills and 1.14 blocks per set and hitting .320 in conference play this season. She has already made her mark on the program record books as well, as her four solo blocks vs. Davidson are the second-most in the program’s rally-scoring era (since 2001) and her 11 blocks vs. Kentucky are tied for the second-most in a four set match since 2001.


  • The team is out-hitting the opposition .302 to .184, and have yet to lose this season when out-hitting opponents in a match (16-0).
  • The opposition averages 1.08 aces per set, compared to 1.44 for Carolina. The Gamecocks are 10-0 when finishing a match with more aces.
  • The Gamecocks average 2.40 blocks per set, compared to 1.52 for opponents.
  • Freshman Mikayla Shields hits .353 in wins, compared to .201 in losses. Her kills per set dips from 3.39 in wins to 2.17 in losses.
  • The offense features the middle attackers much more in wins, as the trio of Jacqy Angermiller, Alicia Starr and Claire Edwards combine for 4.44 kills per set and a .383 hitting percentage in wins and 2.98 and a .207 percentage in losses.


  • The offense is hitting just .158 in losses with two fewer kills per set than the season average, and the defense is allowing opponents to hit .301. Only one of Carolina’s top four hitters are above .200 through the team’s seven losses.
  • Serve reception has been the biggest x-factor in losses, as the Gamecocks are allowing 1.83 aces per set to opponents in the four matches, but only average 0.78 aces while holding serve.
  • Opponent’s passing success weight heavily in matches lost by Carolina. In the five losses, Gamecocks opponents are averaging almost three digs more per set (15.78 to 12.40) and has a serve-reception percentage of .956.
  • Six of South Carolina’s seven losses have come after dropping the first set.

Senior libero Megan Kirkland (Lugoff, S.C.) was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District team on Thursday, Nov. 3. She has carried a perfect 4.0 grade point average throughout her college career, despite carrying an exercise science major. Kirkland is due to graduate in December, and has already been accepted into Carolina’s prestigious Physician Assistant Program. On the court, Megan is having a career year, already with a new season best of 72 assists and an average of 3.31 digs per set while appearing in every match for the Gamecocks.

The 2016 Gamecocks have an athleticism that head coach Scott Swanson and his staff are excited about. It’s no surprise, once you look at the team’s family history. Many of the players have siblings, parents, and other family members who have competed at the Division I level in athletics, and some have even gone on to have professional athletic careers:

Courtney Furlong

  • Mother swam at St. John’s University
  • Three cousins played in Division I for softball, diving and volleyball
  • Uncle is Frank Viola, a major league baseball pitcher for Minnesota, Boston, and the New York Mets

Courtney Koehler

  • Her brother played football at Presbyterian College
  • Older sister Kerstin played volleyball at College of Charleston

Dessaa Legros

  • Her twin sister Annayka currently plays volleyball at Coastal Carolina

Emma Lock

  • Her uncle, Andy Lock, played football at Missouri. Currently, her cousin Drew is the Tigers’ quarterback

Mikayla Shields

  • Her parents were track and field stars at the University of Pittsburgh.
  • Her mother, Najuma, still holds the school record in the high jump, pentathlon and heptathlon. She competed professionally for Guyana and competed at the 1992 Olympics and at the 1995 IAAF World Championships
  • Her father, Brett, ran on the program’s fastest Sprint Medley Relay team

Alicia Starr

  • Her father, Brett, played football, basketball and track at Oregon State
  • Her mother, Julie, was a gymnast for the University of Vermont
  • Sister Brianna is currently a senior on the University of Missouri-Kansas City volleyball team

Jesse Turner

  • Her mother, Lesli, played volleyball at Pepperdine
  • Her father, Rob, played football at Eastern Michigan
  • Her uncle, Roman Fortin, played in the NFL for three different franchises

Of the top 10 crowds on record at the Carolina Volleyball Center, three have come this season alone. Currently, the Gamecocks rank 41st nationally in average attendance this season (1,155), despite the fact that two matches were rescheduled due to weather and four other matches went directly against either home football or basketball games.

Current South Carolina assistant head coach Shonda Cole was inducted into the South Carolina Athletics Hall of Fame class of 2016 on Thursday, Oct. 20. She is the third woman from the program to make the Hall of Fame, joining Ashley Edlund-Heidtke (inducted in 2010) and Heather Larkin (inducted in 2012). Cole was the first Gamecock volleyball player to earn All-America honors, and was also a three-time All-SEC honoree. Cole still holds the program’s career record for points per set, kills per set, and attacks. After an equally successful professional career, which included a stint with the U.S. national team, Cole has returned to her alma mater and is in her second season as a full-time assistant.


  • South Carolina holds a 784-607 (.564) all-time record, dating back to 1973.
  • The Gamecocks joined the SEC for volleyball in 1991, and have an all-time conference record of 178-232 (.431).
  • In matches in the Carolina Volleyball Center, Carolina 183-98 (.650).
  • With 91 career wins, head coach Scott Swanson ranks third in program history for wins. Kim Hudson (1993-2004) is the program’s wins leader, with 226.