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March 13, 2017

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina’s beach volleyball program will hold its one and only mid-week dual of 2017 on Tuesday night. The Gamecocks welcome in Palmetto State rival Coastal Carolina at 6 p.m. for a matchup that is scheduled to air on the SEC Network + internet stream.

BACK AT WHEELER BEACH
The Gamecocks have two more home tournaments coming up at Wheeler Beach this year, after sweeping three duals in the Gamecock Challenge last weekend. South Carolina has been historically strong at home, compiling a record of 26-8 over the program’s first three years. Last year was a high point, with the Gamecocks going 14-3 at home.

SCOUTING COASTAL CAROLINA
The Chanticleers have a slow month of March, as Tuesday night will be the team’s first competition of the regular season. Following the one-off dual with South Carolina, Coastal will then go another 15 days before getting back into action. This is the second year of the program, which competes as part of the ASUN Conference. Justin Stack takes over as the beach program’s head coach, looking to improve upon the team’s 3-9 record in its first season. The Chants’ top returner from 2016 is Natasa Savovic, who played on the top pair last season and is also an accomplished indoor player.

GAMECOCK CHALLENGE NOTABLES

  • In the win over Mercer, senior Jade Vitt secured her 50th career dual win. Junior Macie Tendrich recorded her 50th career win later against Jacksonville, making her the first junior in program history to reach the milestone. Tendrich and Vitt join Sarah Blomgren as the only Gamecocks to reach 50 career dual wins.
  • Delaney Wood and AJ Baumann made their season debut in the exhibition pair against Mercer. The sophomores took home a three-set win over the Bears.
  • South Carolina now has won three straight duals against Mercer.
  • Julia Mannisto and Carly Schnieder had South Carolina’s most dominant performance of the season to sweep their match with Jacksonville at the threes. Thanks to a 21-6, 21-9 win, the pair held Jacksonville to the lowest combined point total of any opposing pair faced so far this season.
  • Hannah Sorensen and Sarah Nacouzi made their Gamecock debuts Saturday as the exhibition pair. Sorensen, a transfer from Mercer, and the freshman Nacouzi earned a three-set victory.

PRESEASON NOTABLES

  • The Gamecocks return seven players who were mainstays in the top five pairs last season. All seven returners won 10 or more dual matches, and six won at least 15 matches.
  • Among those returning are Macie Tendrich and Katie Zimmerman, who paired up for 26 wins between the number two and three pairs. The 26 wins are a new single-season record for a Gamecock pair.
  • 2017 will be the final go-around for the program’s first-ever freshman class. The group is made up of Erin Neuenfeldt, Helen Recaborde, Jade Vitt and Jordan Wilson-Talmadge.
  • Entering the fold this season are nine newcomers hailing from seven different states. Seven are freshmen, while two join the program as graduate transfers – Adrianna Culbert and Hannah Sorensen.
  • Three freshmen ended their high school careers with national honors. Carly Schnieder and Katie Smith earned a place on the AVCA High School Beach All-America Team, and Ali Denney made MaxPreps’ 2015 High School Small Schools All-American first team for her efforts during her senior indoor season. She finished with 7.5 kills and 1.3 aces per set for the The Pine School in Florida.

GAMECOCKS IN THE NATIONAL RANKS
The South Carolina beach volleyball program made history on March 6, making it in to the American Volleyball Coaches Association’s first weekly national poll of the 2017. The Gamecocks entered at No. 15, earning the program its first ranking ever by the sport’s governing body. After three more wins at the Gamecock Challenge, the team made another big jump in the March 13 poll, cracking the top 10.

WELCOME TO THE GREAT OUTDOORS!
After finding tremendous success converting Wichita State indoor volleyball standout Katie Zimmerman to the beach last season, the coaching staff will try that same formula this season with Adrianna Culbert. While playing indoors for Colorado State, Culbert earned 2015 Mountain West Player of the Year honors and was a three-time AVCA All-Pacific North Region Team member for the Rams.

YEAR TWO OF CONFERENCE ACTION HEATS UP
South Carolina’s 2017 slate will feature a number of brewing rivalries thanks to an expanded conference this season. The Coastal Collegiate Sports Association added two more programs this past fall, welcoming College of Charleston and UNC-Wilmington to push the conference up to 10 teams. The Gamecocks finished 5-5 in CCSA matches during the regular season, and made the semifinal round of the conference’s first-ever postseason tournament. Carolina will play 16 conference matches during the 2017 regular season, six coming at home.

CHALLENGING SCHEDULE AWAITS GAMECOCKS IN 2017
As the program heads into its fourth year, the competition level has been stepped up to another level. The Gamecocks have lined up seven regular season tournaments that will cover 30 duals. Of those 30 matches, 10 are against opponents currently in the AVCA Coaches top-15, and 14 against teams in the current DiG Magazine top-20 poll. The highlight for the year will no doubt be the Gamecock Grand Slam on March 25-26, where Carolina hosts the defending national champions Southern Cal, national runner-up Florida State, Georgia State (currently 8th in the AVCA poll) and Stetson (12th in the AVCA poll).

STRONG SUMMER EARNS GAMECOCK DUO ALL-AMERICA HONORS
Freshmen Carly Schnieder and Katie Smith come to Carolina with accomplished prep careers on the beach. The duo won the AAU Jr. National Beach Volleyball Championship as well as the USA Volleyball Junior Beach Volleyball Tour Championship. For their efforts, Carly and Katie made the six-member AVCA High School Beach All-America Team. South Carolina Beach Volleyball now has three first-team All-Americans on the roster, as the two freshmen joined junior Julia Mannisto, who was on the four-member 2014 All-America team. South Carolina is the only school in the country to have three AVCA Beach All-Americans on their roster.

ALL-TIME RECORDS

  • South Carolina holds a 46-35 all-time record, dating back to 2014.
  • The Gamecocks joined the CCSA for volleyball in 2016, and have an all-time conference record of 7-5.
  • In home matches at Wheeler Beach, Carolina is 26-8.
  • Moritz Moritz is entering his fourth season as head coach of the Gamecocks, spanning the young history of the program.