Gamecocks Drop Tight Match at UCF
The team plays Kansas at 4 p.m. on Saturday
ORLANDO, FLA. – South Carolina opened up its weekend at the UCF Challenge on Friday night, dropping a close three-set match to the host Knights (25-21, 27-25, 25-23). The Gamecocks (1-3) were led by 14 kills from Mikayla Shields and 21 digs from Addie Bryant.
SET ONE: The match opened with a battle, with six ties before the score reached the 20s. UCF was able to wiggle free with a 3-0 burst to break a 17-all tie late and get the 25-21 win. The Knights finished the set with five blocks, and the Gamecocks committed five service errors to drop a game where their offense produced more kills than the home side but could not hold serve for the crucial run. All five starters finished with multiple kills in the set, with Claire Edwards and Mikayla Robinson combining for seven kills on seven swings.
SET TWO: Game two would be even more wild than the first, with 12 ties and six lead changes giving way to a 27-25 win for UCF to push it ahead, 2-0. Late in the action, a block from Edwards and Mikayla Shields gave the Gamecocks their biggest lead of the night at 22-19 and forced the Knights into a timeout. Coming out of the break, UCF went on a 5-0 run and would serve for the win. A Shields kill and a tandem block of Shields and Robinson denied UCF the win there, but the Gamecocks were unable to swing the score and put them in a position to close the set out. After being denied another set point at 25-24, UCF put together back-to-back kills to take the 2-0 lead.
SET THREE: South Carolina found itself trailing big early on in the final set, but were able to climb all the way back before falling 25-23 to end the match. UCF built a 15-7 lead from the start of the set, but the Gamecocks leaned on Shields and Britt McLean to flip the set with a 16-7 run of their own to forge ahead, 23-22. Shields put away four of her seven kills in the set during a 5-0 run that would ended the comeback quest and put the team up by one, but the Knights rallied for the next three points to end the match.
- South Carolina’s middle hitters were locked in to lead the offense; Claire Edwards and Mikayla Robinson combined for 18 kills and just three errors on 29 swings Friday. Edwards is now hitting .457 with just under two kills per set through 13 sets this season.
- Freshmen Courtney Weber and Holly Eastridge saw extended playing time against UCF. Weber finished with nine assists and four digs, and Eastridge had a kill, a block and a dig.
- Addie Bryant had her best night as a Gamecock when it came to defensive production. The senior libero popped up 21 digs in the match, almost half of the team’s total (46).
- Mikayla Shields led the team with 14 kills, and moved up to seventh in program history in kills (1,185).
- The serve game continues to be a bugaboo for the Gamecocks. Through four matches, the team has seven aces and 36 errors, while opponents have 24 aces and 26 errors.
NEXT UP: Two more matches remain in the weekend; the team plays Kansas (3-0) at 4 p.m. on Saturday before closing the tournament against Albany (1-3) on Sunday at 1. The Jayhawks swept the Great Danes in the opening game of the tournament Friday afternoon.