Aug. 25, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina volleyball team started the 2017 season with a memorable performance Friday night against Mercer. The Gamecocks swept the bears, 25-17, 26-24, 25-19 to move to 1-0, and hit .400 as a team for the match. Freshman Mikayla Robinson had a historically efficient night, hitting .846 with 12 kills to lead the offense.
The team was welcomed by a crowd of 1,925 fans for the opener, the second-largest crowd in program history.
Tough serving from Mikayla Shields and Courtney Koehler helped the Gamecocks shake off any early jitters, as the two gave the team an early 16-7 cushion in the first set. The advantage would hold, as kills down the stretch from Claire Edwards, Courtney Furlong and Shields capped the 25-17 win. South Carolina out-hit Mercer .407 to .161 in the opening game.
The Bears appeared ready to even the match at a set apiece after they jumped out to a comfortable lead in set two, 13-9. South Carolina remained close, but could not get within one until late in the set, when freshman Brooke Gostomski served them back into contention. She aced the Bears to cut the deficit to one, 19-18, and the Gamecocks were able to ride the momentum of five Robinson kills in the set to pull away with the key 26-24 win.
South Carolina’s defense helped take back control in the decisive third set, guiding the Gamecocks the 25-19 clincher. While the team’s Mikayla combo did combine for six more kills in the third, it was Gostomski who proved to be the offense’s leader in the close-out game. The Wisconsin native pounded home four kills in the frame, including a resounding line shot that had all 1,925 fans on their feet. Carolina hit .423 as a team in the third set, and would not trail beyond the fifth point of the frame to cruise to the 25-19 win and a sweep.
Stat of the Match
Mikayla Robinson’s 12 kills on 13 attacks gave her a final hitting percentage of .846. That mark is the highest by any Gamecock with double-digit kills in a match since Lori Rowe hit .870 back on Sept. 17, 1983. Robinson and Rowe are the only Gamecocks to finish with a hitting percentage of .800 or better with double-digit kills.
- Aubrey Ezell made her first official start as the team’s libero, and shined in the new role. The junior racked up 19 digs, a new career high, and added four assists.
- Mikayla Shields and Claire Edwards tied for the second-most kills for the team, each tallying seven. Shields hit .375 with two aces, and Edwards hit .357 with three block assists.
- Courtney Koehler grabbed the reins as the team’s starting setting, passing out a career-high 30 assists while also adding a pair of kills, her first career solo block, and seven digs.
- Courtney Furlong earned the start on the left side, the 12th start of her career. She finished with three kills and a block.
Quotable: Head Coach Scott Swanson
On Mikayla Robinson’s Performance
“She’s a gamer, she’s a high-level athlete. She wants the ball, and when we give her the ball she puts it away. It’s probably the first time in my coaching career here that a middle hitter has led us in killsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ four kills per game in three sets is pretty big time.”
The Gamecock Invitational wraps up on Saturday with a full day of action. South Carolina hosts Troy at 1 p.m. and North Florida at 7. The Ospreys defeated the Trojans in five sets to open the tournament Friday afternoon.