Gamecocks Fall in Five-Set Slugfest
Nov. 8, 2017
MISSOURI 3, SOUTH CAROLINA 2
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina lost a thrilling five-set affair with Missouri Wednesday night, rebounding from a 2-1 deficit before losing 16-14 in the final game. Mikayla Shields set a career high with 29 kills and the team (11-14, 4-9 SEC) hit .343, its highest percentage in conference play this year, but Missouri (17-9, 10-3 SEC) smoked the ball to the tune of .406 to pull out the win.
SET 1: It would take a set for the Tigers to wake up offensively, and South Carolina used that to its advantage to take a 25-19 win. The Gamecocks out-hit Missouri .462 to .208 to pull away early on in the game. Aside from two early lead changes, Carolina led comfortably for most of the set, and thanks to four kills apiece from Abreia Epps and Mikayla Robinson, the team took the 1-0 lead.
SET 2: Missouri got on track in set two, hitting .483 in the game for a 25-20 win to even the match. The Tigers got a boost from Sydney Deeken, who came off the bench as an injury sub and converted her first five swings into kills. South Carolina held its own with a .306 hitting percentage and six kills from Shields, but couldn’t slow down Missouri’s hitters.
SET 3: South Carolina hurt itself in the pivotal third set, as six service errors came back to bite them in a 25-23 loss to move Missouri ahead 2-1. Game three would be the tightest of the night, as eight ties and two lead changes kept the drama high. A kill from Shields put the team up 20-18 and forced a Missouri timeout, but the Tigers rallied out of the stoppage and quickly swung the score back in their favor, 23-22. Shields’ sixth kill of the set tied it up at 23, but a kill and a block closed the door on the game.
SET 4: Service errors haunted Missouri in the fourth, as the Tigers fell 25-22 to South Carolina despite hitting .500 with zero attack errors in the game. The visitors committed five service errors, with the fifth keying what became the game-changing run. Down 19-15, the Gamecocks got a side out from the service error. Courtney Koehler took the ball to serve, and the team reeled off seven-unanswered points to stun the Tigers. Shields was almost literally unstoppable in the run, accounting for four kills among those seven points. The sophomore finished with nine kills on 14 swings in the game, backed up by four kills from Courtney Furlong. Her ninth kill of the set clinched the win and pushed the match to set five.
SET 5: Missouri appeared to have the final game wrapped up early, taking the 8-6 lead at the switch-over and extending it to 14-9 and match point, before Aubrey Ezell took control. After a side-out kill from Shields, Ezell keyed a 5-0 run with a pair of aces to tie the set up at 14-all. Missouri was able to get the side-out, and ended the match on a service ace.
Stat of the Match
South Carolina had one of the best night’s in program history when it came to hitting percentage. The Gamecocks finished at .343, the second-highest percentage for a five-set match in the program’s 44-year history. Mikayla Shields‘ .480 hitting percentage on 50 swings is good for the fifth-highest in a five-setter in the rally-scoring era (since 2001).
- South Carolina tamed Missouri’s vaunted net defenders, as the Tigers blocked just eight balls for the night. They came into the match averaging almost three per set, and were ranked seventh in the nation for blocks.
- Shields’ 29 kills broke her previous career high of 26.
- Shields also had a pair of solo blocks giving her 15 for the season, moving her up to fifth in the program’s rally-scoring era.
- Mikayla Robinson moved up to fifth for most block assists in a single season, with 95, and is three away from matching the program’s decade-old record for most block assists by a freshman.
- Aubrey Ezell shattered the program’s record for digs by a junior on Wednesday night, as she moved her total to 432. Its also the fifth-most in a single season in the program’s rally-scoring era.
- Ezell also continued to climb the career aces top 10. After three Wednesday, she moved from eighth to sixth in the program’s all-time history.
After a few days to rest and prepare, the Gamecocks will be back in action against Arkansas. The Razorbacks will travel to the Carolina Volleyball Center for a 1:30 p.m. first serve on Sunday. Arkansas won the previous meeting this season, 3-0.