Oct. 18, 2017
SOUTH CAROLINA 3, AUBURN 1
AUBURN, ALA. – The South Carolina volleyball team earned its first win under interim head coach Dottie Hampton in dramatic fashion Wednesday night, beating Auburn 3-1 in front of a national TV audience. The Gamecocks fought through 42 ties and 13 lead changes over the four sets to snap a three-game losing streak and move to 10-9 for the season (3-4 SEC).
SET 1: The Gamecocks toughed out a close opening set to break a streak of seven straight sets lost, taking the game 25-19. South Carolina was locked into a tight one early, with neither side leading by more than a point until after the media timeout. It was a seemingly minor 4-1 run for Carolina out of a 13-all tie, but it proved to be just the breathing room the Gamecocks were looking for. Another 3-0 run late pushed the visitor’s lead to 23-17, the largest of the set to that point, and Carolina took home the 1-0 lead.
SET 2: The battle continued in set two, as the Gamecocks let an early lead get away before they regrouped for a 27-25 win. Auburn erased a 7-3 lead, but weren’t able to carry the momentum to a lead. The game was played on a razor’s edge down the stretch, with ties from points 15 to 25. Auburn had the first set point at 24-23, but the Gamecocks were bailed out by a service error. A kill from Mikayla Shields gave the Gamecocks their first set point, but the Tigers were able to side out. After another Auburn service error — the eighth of the set for the Tigers — Shields was able to secure the win with her sixth kill of the set.
SET 3: The Tigers locked down on Shields in the third, limiting the sophomore pin to just one kill as the home side won 25-22 to make it a 2-1 match. Auburn held an early lead, but South Carolina used a 5-1 run to take its first lead of the game at 16-15. An ace from Courtney Koehler pushed the Gamecocks ahead 20-17, but Auburn made a 6-1 run from there to put the game out of reach.
SET 4: The Gamecocks needed to win one more dogfight to pull out the victory in set four. The Tigers took a commanding 7-3 lead out of the gate, but Carolina tied the set back up at nine to set the tone for the rest of the game. There would be seven more lead changes from that point on, until a game-breaking run for South Carolina put the match to bed. Out of a 17-17 tie, the Gamecocks used four kills from Mikayla Robinson to end the set on an 8-2 run to win the match.
Stat of the Match
The Gamecock defense beat Auburn at its own game, out-digging the Tigers 69-56 in the match. The 69 digs are a high for conference matches this season, is second behind only the UNC Wilmington match for most digs in a four-set match. The 17.25 digs per set is an improvement from the team’s 11.27 average during its three-game losing streak
- The win snaps a four-game losing streak to Auburn. The Tigers had won seven of the last eight matchups dating back to 2012. The team’s last win at Auburn came in 2014.
- Aubrey Ezell matched a career high with 25 digs.
- Mikayla Robinson’s 13 kills are one off a personal best, and give her double-digit kills in back-to-back matches for the first time this season.
- Auburn committed 19 errors on serve Wednesday night; the previous high for a Gamecock opponent was 14 by Georgia.
Quotable: Interim Head Coach Dottie Hampton
Her feelings on celebrating the win with the team
“It was probably one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life. Those girls were so excited and I was so proud of them and their effort. They played together, we’ve been talking about family and team and taking care of each other, and I think tonight was just the epitome of that.”
The team returns to Columbia Thursday and will have two days of practice before heading back to the Heart of Dixie. The Gamecocks travel to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. ET. The match will air on the SEC Network.