Gamecocks Defeat Liberty, 3-1
McLean's 18 kills lead the offense to a weekend-opening win
HOUSTON, TEXAS –South Carolina volleyball defeated Liberty (1-3) by a score of 3-1 on Friday morning, in its opening match of the Rice Invitational. The Gamecocks (4-0) were led by a career-high 18 kills from Brittany McLean and three different defenders with 13 or more digs.
SET 1: The Gamecocks jumped out to a big lead early in the first game, and out-hit the Flames .357 to .138 to get a convincing 25-15 win. The team turned to McLean early and often, and the junior came through with five kills on just six swings and helped the offense churn out 13 kills total in the set. South Carolina used a 9-2 run to break out of a 3-all tie early, and would not let the Flames get any closer than four the rest of the way.
SET 2: Courtney Koehler kept the South Carolina offense chugging into the second set, as the junior dished out 12 assists to help the Gamecocks win 25-22 and extend the lead to 2-0. Claire Edwards had four kills and two service aces in the game, and McLean added four more kills to push her to nine for the match. Liberty would hurt itself in the serve game, committing five errors without getting a single ace in return.
SET 3: Mental errors cost the Gamecocks big in the third, as Liberty extended the match behind a 25-22 win. The team committed just seven attacking errors in the first two sets, but totaled eight in the third and hit .094. The Flames led by as many as six points in the early going, but the Gamecocks were able to rally back and tie the set up at 19 thanks to an 8-2 run, but three more errors proved to be the difference from there as Liberty pulled away again for the win.
SET 4: After suffering its first set loss of the season, South Carolina rallied back to dominate the final frame, leading wire-to-wire in a 25-18 victory. The left-side attacker combination of McLean and Jess Vastine each went for four kills to lead the offense, and 17 digs from the back line fueled their success. Aubrey Ezell had six digs in the fourth alone, and Vastine and Mikayla Shields added four apiece. Liberty hit a match-low .118 and could not overcome a 14-6 deficit to start the set.
- Aubrey Ezell led the team with four aces and just two errors on serve, pushing her over 150 career aces. She is the only active player in Division I to have 2,000 assists, 1,000 digs and 150 aces in a career.
- With her 13 digs, Ezell also moved up to seventh in program history for career digs. Her 1,088 now trails Ashley Edlund (1995-98) for sixth place by 72 digs.
- McLean’s previous high for kills was 13 while she played for Minnesota. The 18 kills are the most by any Gamecock through four matches this season.
- Jess Vastine’s 14 digs led the team and set a new career high. The sophomore’s previous best was 11, set last season at Duke.
- Claire Edwards’ three aces were also a career high. The junior previously had a pair of aces on two different occasions in 2017.
UP NEXT:The Gamecocks face a strong challenge Friday night, when it faces the host Rice Owls on its home court. First serve is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET, and will stream live on CUSA.tv.