Aug. 26, 2017
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Backed by another packed house at the Carolina Volleyball Center, the Gamecock volleyball team clinched a perfect opening weekend on Saturday night, sweeping North Florida (2-1), 25-19, 25-22, 25-17. Carolina did not drop a single set all weekend, and is 3-0 for the year. Courtney Koehler was named the tournament MVP, and was joined by Mikayla Robinson and Aubrey Ezell on the all-tournament team.
The gym was packed again for the Gamecocks, with 1,804 more fans in attendance to push the weekend total over 5,000. The 1,804 mark ranks fifth in program history, giving the team two top-five attendance figures in the span of 24 hours.
The Gamecocks still had to earn the tournament title on Saturday night, and trailed early in the first set to the Ospreys. Down 14-10, the team called a timeout to regroup. Out of the break, the team went on a 5-1 burst to even the game up at 15 and were able to pull away late behind solid defense at the net. With the set tied at 18, Carolina scored seven of the next eight points to close out the 25-19 win. Claire Edwards recorded her third block of the set to clinch the win, one of six total blocks for the team in the first frame.
North Florida fought back to take another early lead in set two, using a 5-0 run to take a 12-10 lead on Carolina. A kill from Furlong woke the offense and the crowd up, and spurred what would be the game-changing 7-0 run. A pair of aces from Emma Lock added to the run, but UNF was able to respond again and tied the set back up again at 22 before Furlong came back swinging. The junior put down back-to-back kills to break the tie, and Mikayla Shields iced the 2-0 lead with a kill to make it 25-22.
With a tournament title in their sights, the Gamecocks made quick work of North Florida in the third set. Courtney Koehler and Lock served tough to earn the team a quick 10-2 lead, and the Ospreys would get no closer than six points for the rest of the night. Mikayla Robinson celebrated her birthday with a team-high five kills in the third set, and Furlong added three more to push her to 10 for the night. Four more blocks at the net, including three from Claire Edwards, led to just eight kills and a .057 hitting percentage from UNF in the set. South Carolina celebrated a perfect weekend with a 25-17 win in the third.
Stat of the Match
North Florida was held to just a .083 hitting percentage for the night, with the Gamecocks blocking a weekend-high 12 balls.
- Sophomore Claire Edwards’ seven blocks led the team, and matched a career high.
- Furlong’s last match with double-digit kills came in 2015, when she had 10 in the season finale at Arkansas (11/25).
- South Carolina finished the weekend hitting .338 as a team, committing just 16 unforced hitting errors.
- Mikayla Robinson celebrated her birthday Saturday with two more big matches, giving her 30 kills in nine sets for the tournament.
Quotable: Head Coach Scott Swanson
On the energetic crowds all weekend at the Carolina Volleyball Center
“It was absolutely incredible. The environment that (our fans) create is second to none, and a lot of SEC coaches over the years have told me we have one of the best home-court advantages because it’s a smaller gym and when we pack it out there’s almost 2,000 people in there at times and it’s pretty intimidating. They’re right on top of you and they’re loud. Our students are phenomenal, I don’t know where they all come from, but they are flocking in and waiting in line to come watch this team… we have some high-flying, exciting athletes to watch, so I hope they keep coming out when the SEC season comes around.”
The team will ramp up the competition next weekend when it hits the road for a tournament hosted by Duke. Along with a Saturday match with the Blue Devils, the Gamecocks will also face Northwestern and UNC Wilmington.