Beach Volleyball Closes Regular Season With Home Tournament
The Gamecocks play at 1 and 6 p.m. Friday and 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday
COLUMBIA, S.C. – The 11th-ranked South Carolina beach volleyball team wraps up the 2019 regular season at home this Friday and Saturday, hosting its annual Palmetto Invitational. The Gamecocks play Tulane and Missouri State Friday, and UNCW and College of Charleston on Saturday. Friday’s duals will go at 1 and 6 p.m., with the team’s senior recognition ceremony before the second dual, and Saturday will have matches at 1 and 5 p.m. The team will be honoring seven student-athletes who will be competing on Wheeler Beach for the final time: Cadie Bates, AJ Baumann, Lydia Dimke, Lauryn Gillis, Caroline Skaff, Shannon Williams and Delaney Wood.
Beach volleyball and track and field will co-host a Kid’s Fest on Saturday, with activities and promotions for children 12 and under, and even more giveaways for fans in attendance at Saturday’s 5 p.m. dual with Charleston. More information on the weekend’s events can be found HERE.
HOW TO GET TO WHEELER BEACH
The team’s state-of-the-art facility can be located behind the South Carolina softball stadium and Cregger Track. Fans can park in the Dodie Anderson Academic Enrichment Center’s parking garage (1300 Heyward St.) or in the parking lot off South Marion Street. Those coming from the parking garage can take the athletics village promenade down to the courts; those in the South Marion lot can enter from below the promenade.
Tulane enters the weekend at 15-12 and are coming off a bye week. In its last tournament, Tulane went 1-4 at the Surf N Turf Invitational in Miami but all four losses came to top-15 teams. The Green Wave are led by top pair Eva Toruella and Kaylie McHugh, who have a 16-7 record in the number one position of the lineup. Each of the last three meetings between the two teams have resulted in 3-2 decisions, with the Gamecocks winning twice last season but Tulane pulling out a 3-2 upset at the 2017 conference tournament.
Missouri State is in its second season as a program, and are riding a six-match win streak into the weekend. The strength of the Bears has been the bottom of its lineup, where the team has a season-long record of 15-4 at the fourth position and 13-6 at the fifth. Individually, six women have double-digit wins, with Sydney LeMay leading the way at 12-6 overall.
UNCW will match up with the Gamecocks for a second time this season, previously meeting in Conway, S.C. back on March 9. The Seahawks are 7-10 overall and dropped all four duals at Georgia State’s Diggin Duals event two weeks ago in its most recent action. Maddy Kline has anchored the top of the lineup for every single dual this season, and Halle Hunt and JM Lewandowski are the team’s winningest pair with an 8-2 record at the fours.
Charleston is 14-2 overall, suffering its only losses two weeks ago at Georgia State’s Diggin Duals event. The Cougars are a veteran squad with a consistent lineup that has shown to be solid top-to-bottom. Lauren Freed and Kennedy Madison lead the team at the top position, boasting a 14-2 overall record, but Devon Rachel and McKala Rhodes are the team’s most successful pair with a 15-1 record entering the weekend.
GAMECOCKS IN THE NATIONAL RANKS
The team earned its first-ever ranking by the AVCA on March 6, 2017, and have not left the polls since. South Carolina stands at 11th in the April 8 poll, with wins over No. 2 Southern Cal and No. 4 LSU highlighting its 15 total victories. Eight Gamecock opponents are currently ranked in the top 20, including four of the top eight, and four other 2019 opponents are receiving votes.
FRESHMEN CLASS AIMS TO BOLSTER LINEUP DOWN THE STRETCH
In the win over Arizona State on March 31, freshmen Abby Carroll and Jordan Smith made their first career starts, joining classmate Whitley Ballard as important pieces to the lineup as the team enters the final two weekends of the regular season. Ballard leads the newcomers with an 8-3 record at the fifth pairing, with wins over Southern Cal and FGCU standing out as highlights.
Carroll was an AAU national champion in 2016 and made the 2018 AVCA High School Beach Volleyball All-America second team before coming to Carolina. She debuted at the fourth pairing in the ASU dual and also competed in the exhibition flight against Coastal Carolina on March 27.
Smith was set back by a preseason injury but was finally cleared for game action in time to face the Sun Devils on March 31. Though she would fall in her collegiate debut, she remains a key player to watch as the season hits the home stretch. She and teammate Caroline Skaff went 3-1 in exhibition matches last weekend at LSU.
WILLIAMS TAKING THE HARD ROAD THROUGH THE RECORD BOOK
Senior Shannon Williams stands as the team’s active wins leader, but her 73-51 career record is even more impressive when you consider that 83 of her 124 career starts (67 percent) have come in the number one position in the lineup. As a freshman, the Ashburn, Va. native went 14-21 at the number one position in the lineup, and led the team again last season with a 14-12 record at the top. This season, Williams and partner Cadie Bates are 14-8 at the top position, with highlight wins over Southern Cal and Georgia State. Williams currently has a program-record 42 wins at number one, more than the second- and third-ranked Gamecocks combined, and is two wins away from being just the second member of the program to ever reach 75 overall wins.
THE RACE TO 50 AND BEYOND
Entering the 2018 season, only two Gamecocks in program history had reached 50 career dual wins. Now in 2019 alone, two have joined the club with another in hot pursuit. Juniors Carly Schnieder and Katie Smith reached their 50th wins earlier this season, with classmate Franky Harrison (45) on the brink of joining them. Only the program’s all-time wins leader, Macie Tendrich, was able to reach 50 wins before the end of junior year.
GRAD CHANCE U
South Carolina welcomed its first grad transfer in 2015, when Jade Hayes came to Columbia from UCF. In the years since, the Gamecocks have one of the best track records in the country when it comes to developing indoor players for the beach game.
This season, a trio of indoor standouts are taking on significant roles in the lineup. Cadie Bates (Duke) went 20-8 in her first season in Columbia and currently is 14-8 at the number one position in the lineup. Lydia Dimke (Creighton) was limited her to just seven matches in her first season with the program due to a foot injury, but returned this season and has paired with Katie Smith to go 18-4 at the number two position. Joining the roster this year is Lauryn Gillis, a standout from national power Wisconsin. She played in 87 career matches with the Badgers, totaling over 1,000 career kills and 500 digs and helping the team reach the Sweet 16 in 2017, the regional final in 2016 and the regional semifinal in 2015. She has worked her way into the lineup and has six wins so far in the number four and five positions.
- South Carolina holds a 101-63 all-time program record, dating back to 2014.
- The Gamecocks joined the CCSA for volleyball in 2016, and have an all-time conference record of 30-19.
- In home matches at Wheeler Beach, Carolina is 48-16 (.750).
- Moritz Moritz is entering his sixth season as head coach of the Gamecocks, spanning the entire young history of the program. He earned his 100th career win against Texas A&M-Kingsville on April 6, 2019.
For updates on this weekend’s duals, follow GamecockBeachVB on Twitter.