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Women's Volleyball  . 

Gamecocks Rally for 3-2 Win at Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, MD. – South Carolina volleyball powered through five tight sets to post a 3-2 win over Maryland Saturday night. It was the Gamecocks’ second match of the day at the Maryland Invitational, and they outlasted a surge from the home team to improve to 8-1 on the season.
 
South Carolina claimed the first two nail-biting sets 25-23 and 32-30. Maryland won its two sets with slightly more breathing room – 25-18 and 25-22 – but the Gamecocks bounced back in the fifth, turning a 1-4 early deficit into an 11-6 lead that they would not relinquish.
 
Four Gamecocks finished with double-figure kills, led by junior Brittany McLean’s 17. Courtney Koehler assisted on 56 of South Carolina’s 64 kills and added one of her own to finally close out the extended second set. The Gamecocks’ blocking game was strong, especially in the decisive fifth set. Sophomore Mikayla Robinson finished with two solo blocks and four block assists as part of the team’s 12 blocks in the match.
 
SET 1: The match started just as it ended – tight. Knotted at 9-9, momentum swung to the Gamecocks, who rattled off five straight points behind a pair of McLean kills, an Aubrey Ezell ace and pair of Maryland errors to take a 14-9 lead. Maryland fought back to a 23-23 tie before a service error gave South Carolina set point, which McLean put away with her fifth kill of the set.
 
SET 2: The second set featured 24 ties as the teams battled back and forth. After an initial surge by Maryland, which the Gamecocks chipped away at to get to an 8-7 lead, neither team won more than two points in a row until South Carolina closed out the set with three in a row. Each team had three set points in the final moments. With a 30-29 lead, Maryland’s service error tied the set for the final time at 30-30. A Terrapin ball handling error gave the Gamecocks their fourth set point, and Koehler took a set from Aubrey Ezell for a kill and a two-set lead.
 
SET 3: Another see-saw battle went to 12-12 before Maryland closed on a 13-6 run, helped by three straight Gamecock errors to spark a 5-0 surge.
 
SET 4: Maryland carried the momentum from the third set into an 8-3 lead in the fourth. The Gamecocks put together a 6-2 run to get within a point a 9-10. The Terps answered and were on the precipice with a 24-19 advantage, but South Carolina notched the next three points in a late bid to steal the victory. After a Maryland timeout, a Gamecock service error sent the match to its fifth set.
 
SET 5: Again, Maryland looked to have momentum in taking a 4-1 lead in the final frame. South Carolina would not relent, though, going on a 10-2 run behind great blocking, including three block assists from Claire Edwards during the stretch. After Maryland ended the Gamecocks’ 4-0 run and twice tied the set, South Carolina used a service error to start a 5-0 run that opened up the set. McLean put up a solo block, then pounded a kill for a 9-6 lead. Edwards and Koehler combined for back-to-back blocks and an 11-6 South Carolina lead. The Terps closed within a point at 11-10, but again McLean delivered. A pair of kills started the final surge, which included a Maryland attack error and a Robinson kill on match point.
 
 
NOTABLE

  • In her 100th career match, Aubrey Ezell added 26 digs, three aces and three assists to the victory. She moved into sixth place in the Gamecock record book in career digs, sitting on 1,173 after today’s matches. She needs just 23 to tie Amy Iannoccari (1991-94) in fifth place.
  • Brittany McLean and Mikayla Robinson combined for nearly half of the Gamecocks’ 83.0 points in the match, recording 21.0 and 20.0 points, respectively.
  • Mikayla Shields (12) and Claire Edwards (11) joined McLean and Robinson in double-figure kills.
  • Shields added 13 digs to her 12 kills for her third double-double of the season, which also moved her into 18th place in the Gamecocks’ career standings in the category with 19.

 
QUOTABLE: TOM MENDOZA
“In our first road match, at Rice, we felt like we started the match flat, so that was something that we emphasized, and I really liked our play in the first set. Maryland was really pressuring us with tough serves, and I thought our play in the middle three sets got sloppy. It was huge to close out the second set, and I’m very proud of how the team responded in the fifth set. We became passive in the third and fourth, but we played aggressive in the fifth, and that is something we can draw on later in the season. Overall, it was two great wins today, and now we move our focus to Colgate tomorrow.”
 
UP NEXT: South Carolina wraps up action in the Maryland Invitational on Sunday at noon against Colgate. The Gamecocks are back on the road next weekend, traveling to VCU for a three-day tournament that includes Toledo and Virginia as well.

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