Gamecocks Sweep Bulldogs to Open SEC Play
The offense hit over .300 to run South Carolina's win streak to five
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Gamecock volleyball ran its win streak to five matches and opened conference play with a 3-0 sweep of Mississippi State on Friday night. South Carolina (10-1, 1-0 SEC) hit .300 as a team for the night, and were led by double-digit kills from Mikayla Shields and Brittany McLean and a double-double from Courtney Koehler.
SET 1: The opening game was a showcase for both offenses, but South Carolina’s .441 team attack percentage won out in a 25-17 win. The tandem of Mikayla Robinson and Shields combined for 11 of the team’s 18 total kills in the set, and Aubrey Ezell pitched in with three aces and four digs. A tight start to the set gave way to a pair of runs for South Carolina that pushed a 9-7 lead out to 17-10, and the Bulldogs got no closer than six points from that point on.
SET 2: Both teams returned to earth on the offensive side of the net in the second, but early mental errors from the visitors helped the Gamecocks take a 2-0 lead behind a 25-22 decision. Mississippi State had five-straight attack errors that built an 8-1 lead for South Carolina early, but the Gamecocks would be mistake-prone as well in the game. Six attack errors and six service errors kept the Bulldogs in contention late, but the home side kept composure and got a big momentum swing from a Koehler solo block to pull away at the end. McLean’s five kills led the offense, and State finished the set with a negative hitting percentage.
SET 3: The trio of Shields, Robinson and McLean locked in the offense again in the third, keying the team to the sweep behind a 25-18 win. The three attackers accounted for 12 of the team’s 15 total kills, and South Carolina led wire-to-wire in the set.
- Thanks to her match-high 13 kills, Shields stands at 899 career kills and passed Belita Salters (2004-08) for fifth place in kills for the rally-scoring era.
- The 13 kills for Shields were also the most by any Gamecock in a three-set match so far this season.
- The team finished with 47 digs, also a season high for a three-set match. Ezell (15) and Koehler (10) finished in double-digits, and three other Gamecocks had five or more digs.
- With her six assists in the match, Ezell moved into the program’s all-time top 10 for career assists. Now with 2,044, she passed Iris Santos (2003-06) on the list.
- The Gamecocks are now 34-13 in the all-time series with Mississippi State; Friday night’s win breaks a three-game winning streak by the road team in the series.
QUOTABLE: Tom Mendoza on the SEC Network
The team returns to the CVC Sunday for a 1:30 first serve against LSU. The Tigers are 5-7 this season, and lost their SEC opener at Georgia Friday night in five sets.