Shields Joins Exclusive Club in Loss to Arkansas
Nov. 12, 2017
ARKANSAS 3, SOUTH CAROLINA 1
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina dropped a 3-1 loss to Arkansas at home Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks are now 11-15 overall and 4-10 in the SEC this season, while the Razorbacks improve to 18-9 and 8-7 in conference play. Mikayla Shields (13 kills) and Abreia Epps (12) paced the offense, and Shields joined an exclusive club in the losing effort.
The sophomore right side surpassed 700 career kills in the match, making her just the third player in the program’s 45-year history to reach the milestone in just their first two seasons. The others were Lori Rowe in 1984, and Shonda Cole in 2004.
SET 1: The Gamecocks rode the arm of Mikayla Robinson in the opening game, as the freshman racked up six kills on nine swings. Arkansas used tough service to compensate, and the Razorbacks used three aces in the game to pull out the 25-21 win. South Carolina held the lead early, but Arkansas broke away with a 3-0 run out of the media timeout for an 18-15 lead and would not trail again in the set. All told, there would be six ties and three lead changes in the game.
SET 2: Courtney Furlong would be the team’s go-to attacker in the second set, as the junior delivered four kills to lead the team to a 25-19 win that evened the match. South Carolina out-hit Arkansas .348 to .133 and used an 11-3 run through the mid-way point in the game to break away. The lead would stretch as large as nine, 20-11, before the Hogs rallied late for the 25-19 final.
SET 3: The third set was South Carolina’s worst attack rate of the match, the Gamecocks hit just .107 with nine kills in the 25-18 loss to fall back 2-1 to Arkansas. Epps accounted for four of those kills, but the defense wasn’t able to slow down the Razorback offense, who hit .400 with just one unforced attack error. The Gamecocks held tough despite the offense’s issues, but Arkansas finished the set on a 6-1 run to take the match lead.
SET 4: Arkansas took a big lead early in the deciding set, but the Gamecocks would rally late before dropping the set, 25-22 to end the match. Shields led the way with six kills and Epps added four more to help the team hit .360, but Arkansas built a 19-9 lead off mental mistakes from Carolina, and milked the big lead down the stretch to hold on for the win.
Stat of the Match
The Gamecocks were able to hold Pilar Victoria, the NCAA kills leader, to just 13 kills and a .146 hitting percentage, but Arkansas out-hit them .270 to .248 in the match. That includes a combined hitting percentage of .344 in the final two sets.
- Abreia Epps‘ 12 kills are a season high, and the senior hit .409 for the match. She has double-digit kills in two of the last three matches.
- Along with her impressive kills mark reached, Shields also claimed the sophomore record for most solo blocks in a single season, with 16. The record was previously held by Niece Curry in 2002.
- Aubrey Ezell‘s 16 digs moved her up to fifth place in career digs in the rally-scoring era (with 975).
- Mikayla Robinson clinched the freshman record for most total blocks in a single season, with 100, and also moved into the top five for most solo blocks in a single season (with 15).
- Jess Vastine set a personal best with three aces in the match, and Courtney Koehler tied her career best with three aces as well.
The team will have another split weekend ahead, as it will be home Friday against Alabama before traveling out to Texas A&M for a Sunday afternoon match. The Friday night rematch with the Crimson Tide will also be Alumni Night for South Carolina, as the team welcomes back stand-out performers throughout program’s history. First serve will be at 7 p.m., with alumni recognition before the match.