Gamecocks Sweep Buccaneers to Cap Perfect Friday
South Carolina moves to 2-0 with a second Friday sweep
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Day one of the Gamecock Invitational tournament ended with a 3-0 victory for South Carolina Friday evening. The home side swept ETSU (1-1) to move to 2-0 overall, led by 12 kills and 13 digs from Mikayla Shields and a career-high six aces from Aubrey Ezell.
“ETSU is a really good team, and I thought they did a lot of things tonight that really challenged us,” head coach Tom Mendoza said. “We knew that they returned a lot from last year when they made the NCAA tournament so we’ve really been challenging our team to make sure we were on the ball and not wasting any opportunities to put pressure on them. The crowd certainly was a huge factor in providing the energy for us and making it a challenging environment for them (ETSU).”
SET 1: The Gamecocks fought through a roller coaster of an opening game, but secured a 25-23 win thanks to Shields’ offense. The set featured seven lead changes and 11 ties, but the key run would be out of a 17-all tie late. With Shields serving, South Carolina ran off three straight points for its biggest lead of the set to that point, and ETSU would not be able to recover. Shields put away her fifth kill of the set for the clinching point and a 1-0 lead.
SET 2: It was all about the serve game in set two, but Aubrey Ezell would be the x-factor South Carolina needed to stave off the Buccaneers comeback hopes. The visitors had their offense clicking in the second, hitting .343 as a group, but it committed six service errors and were aced five times. The turning point came with South Carolina ahead 12-11. After siding out thanks to a Claire Edwards kill – one of her team-high four in the set – the Gamecocks pulled away behind a 7-0 run that included four-straight service aces from Ezell. The Bucs wouldn’t recover in time to salvage the set, and despite out-hitting the Gamecocks again it would be for naught in a 25-21 win.
SET 3: The two teams were in another intense battle in the final game, with six ties and two lead changes needed to decide the winner. South Carolina pulled out the 25-23 win to clinch it, thanks to seven kills from Shields. The junior also added four digs in the set to give her a double-double for the night. Another quick run mid-way through the set proved to be key for the Gamecocks, as a 3-0 burst shook them from a 15-all tie to give them breathing room down the stretch. While ETSU did tie the score up at 19, it was never able to string together a run to erase the deficit.
- Ezell’s six total aces for the night are the second-most in a three-set match in program history and tied her personal best set last season against Miami (Ohio). Along with her total from the A&M-Corpus Christi match, she finished with 10 aces in six sets Friday.
- Now with 17 career double-doubles, Shields is tied with Shonda Cole for 20thin program history. Only five other Gamecocks in the rally-scoring era have more.
- Shields also moved up to eighth in the rally-scoring era for career points, now with 907.5.
- Junior Courtney Koehler moved up to sixth in the rally-scoring era for career assists, after totaling 58 between the two wins Friday.
- The offense hit just .192 in the match, it was the first time since the 2016 season opener vs. College of Charleston that the team hit under .200 in a match and still won.
- The crowd of 1,725 on Friday night ranks 10thfor the largest in the history of the Carolina Volleyball Center.
UP NEXT: The Gamecocks wrap up the weekend on Saturday at 3 p.m. when they host rival Clemson. The match will air online through the SEC+ channel.