Shields Powers Carolina Past Georgia
The team hit .357 in the four-set win over the Bulldogs
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina volleyball snapped its first losing streak of the season with a 3-1 win over Georgia on Sunday afternoon. The Gamecocks hit .357 as a team in the win, highlighted by 18 kills from Mikayla Shields. The team now stands at 15-4 overall and 6-3 in SEC play this season, while the Bulldogs lost their fourth-straight match and fall back to 12-8, 3-6 SEC.
SET 1: Shields and a powerful team blocking performance boosted the Gamecocks to a win out of the gate, edging Georgia 25-23. Five total blocks helped to slow what was otherwise a strong Georgia attack, with Mikayla Robinson pitching in three blocks and Shields two to go with her seven kills. The Bulldogs rallied back from an early 8-3 deficit to tie the set up at 16. There would be five ties and a pair of lead changes from there, but it would be Shields that made the difference late, getting a pair of kills and a solo block that pushed the team out of a 22-all tie and to the win.
SET 2: It was an offense’s dream in the second set, as the two teams combined for just three total attack errors in the game. The key came in the service game for South Carolina, as it put away four aces and Georgia struggled with five errors behind the line in a 25-16 victory for the Gamecocks. Robinson led the team with five kills, but it would certainly be a balanced effort that made the difference for South Carolina, which hit .619 for the set. A 10-3 run out of an 8-7 South Carolina lead broke the set open and gave the Gamecocks all the cushion they needed to go up 2-0 in the match.
SET 3: While the offense was still rolling in set three, errors on serve would keep the team from stringing together the runs it needed to overcome Georgia’s offense, which hit .387 in the game. The Bulldogs used a 9-3 run mid-way through the set to turn a 10-7 South Carolina lead into a 16-13 advantage for the visitors, and four errors on serve from the Gamecocks from that point on padded Georgia’s lead in a 25-19 loss.
SET 4: South Carolina’s defense would rally the team in a key fourth set, as the back line popped up a match-high 14 digs to hold Georgia to a .026 hitting percentage in the game. The Bulldogs appeared to have full control on the momentum after a 6-1 run started the set, but the Gamecocks worked their way back to an 8-all tie. A 5-0 burst behind the service of Courtney Koehler later in the game would be the key moment for the home side, as it put the team ahead 20-16 and the Bulldogs would get no closer than two points the rest of the way in the 25-21 win for Carolina that clinched the win.
- This is the first sweep of a season series against Georgia since 2006.
- The team found its groove again on serve, as its nine aces are the most in SEC play and most overall since Sept. 4. Addie Bryant and Aubrey Ezell each had three, with Bryant’s three aces standing as a season best.
- Bryant also had a season-high 13 digs, and made her first start of the season as libero.
- For as much success as the team had in the serve game, its 18 service errors are also a season high, surpassing the 15 it had over five sets against Florida on Oct. 12.
- Shields’ 18 kills match a season high for the junior, and are the most in a SEC match for her this year.
- After Sunday, Shields moved up to sixth in career attacks (2,319) and fifth in career points (1,139) for the program’s rally-scoring era.
- South Carolina out-blocked Georgia 7-5; the Bulldogs are the only SEC opponent the team has out-blocked this season.
STAT OF THE MATCH: South Carolina’s offense was efficient on Sunday, hitting .357 as a team. It was its third-highest percentage of the season, and highest in SEC play. Mikayla Shields’ .455 hitting percentage on 33 swings set the tone, as four of the team’s top five kill leaders hit over .300. The team’s 10 attack errors are the second-fewest in a match of any length this season.
UP NEXT: It will be a short turnaround before the team’s next match, as the Gamecocks will pack up and hit the road for another mid-week match on Wednesday. The team will face the red-hot Tennessee Volunteers (16-5, 7-2 SEC) in Knoxville at 7 p.m., with the match airing nationally on ESPNU.