Gamecocks Drop Season Finale to Mississippi State
Nov. 24, 2017
MISS. STATE 3, SOUTH CAROLINA 1
COLUMBIA S.C. – The South Carolina volleyball program ended the 2017 season with a 3-1 loss to Mississippi State Friday night (25-27, 25-18, 22-25, 25-27). Despite holding an advantage in every statistical category, the Gamecocks were edged out by the Bulldogs to cap their record at 12-18 overall, and 5-13 in the SEC.
Mikayla Shields led the team with 19 kills and added 13 digs, and Courtney Koehler set a career high with 55 assists, but the defense could not slow down State’s senior Jelena Vujcin. She finished with 33 kills on 63 swings, hitting .381, accounting for the most kills by an opposing player this season. The rest of Mississippi State’s offense combined for 18 kills and a hitting percentage of .052.
SET 1: Vujcin powered the Bulldogs to a 1-0 lead in the match, accounting for 10 kills in a 27-25 win. There would be 13 ties and seven lead changes, and while the Gamecocks out-hit Mississippi State .344 to .200, four service error proved to be the difference in the loss. Claire Edwards led the team with three kills, two digs, an ace and a block in the game.
SET 2: South Carolina evened up the match with a decisive 25-18 win in game two, as Edwards remained the top offensive threat. The sophomore middle converted kills on five of her six swings, and the Gamecock offense as a whole hit .325. Holding just a 15-13 lead at the media timeout, the Gamecocks ran off with an 8-3 scoring burst that was spurred on by a pair of Courtney Furlong kills and two aces from Brooke Gostomski, and the team cruised to the win.
SET 3: After being penned in for the second set, Vujcin emerged again as the x-factor in the third set, as she accounted for eight of the team’s 10 total kills in a 25-22 win to push the visitors ahead 2-1. The Gamecocks hurt themselves with nine attack errors (seven unforced) and hit just .161. Despite the offense’s hiccup, Carolina still led late in the set, 18-15, but Miss. State used a 9-2 run to flip the scoreboard and get the win.
SET 4: The Bulldogs had their highest hitting percentage in the fourth game, as they hit .267 with 17 kills in another tight 27-25 decision. Vujcin went for 10 of the 17 kills, but the Gamecocks countered with five different players recording two or more kills. Shields led the team with six kills. The teams traded leads early, but State would be first to 15 and were up five on the Gamecocks. The Bulldogs carried at least a three-point lead until late in the game, when a Shields kills made it just a 23-22 lead for the visitors. Carolina fended off two match points to tie it at 24, and an Aubrey Ezell ace gave the Gamecocks a chance to extend the match. Mississippi State sided out and closed the match with three-straight points, two coming on Vujcin kills.
Stat of the Match
On a night where South Carolina held every statistical advantage, the difference would be on service errors. The two teams scored exactly the same amount of points (97), but the Gamecocks gave up 10 points on service errors, committing 13 while Mississippi State had just three.
- This is the team’s first season with a losing record at home since 2010, and the most home losses in the history of the Carolina Volleyball Center.
- Mikayla Shields finished the season with 429 kills, the fourth most for a single season in the rally-scoring era.
- Shields also had her 11th double-double of the year, the 21st-most by a Gamecock in program history.
- Courtney Koehler‘s 55 assists are a new career high. She finishes the season with 1,123 assists, the third most for a single season in the rally-scoring era.
- Aubrey Ezell‘s 527 digs are the second most in a single season in the program’s 45-year history. With two aces give her 49 for the year, a new career high and the most in a single season since 2002.
- After adding five more blocks Friday, Mikayla Robinson capped her freshman season with 121 total blocks. That ranks third for a single season in the rally-scoring era. Her 104 block assists are the most by a Gamecock freshman since 1990.