Defense Guides Volleyball to a Win Over Kansas
The Gamecocks' 18 total blocks are the most for the program since 2006
ORLANDO, FLA. – South Carolina volleyball rebounded with a big win Saturday afternoon against Kansas, winning in four sets to move to 2-3 for the year and hand the Jayhawks (3-1) their first loss of 2019. Despite a first-set loss, the Gamecocks defense’s 18 total blocks helped the team overcome early jitters for the 25-27, 27-25, 25-18, 25-13 decision.
SET ONE: Similar to its match against UCF less than 24 hours prior, the Gamecocks came out on the wrong side of a tight set to open the match, 27-25. There would 16 ties and seven lead changes, with South Carolina coming up empty on set point opportunities at 24-23 and 25-24. The defense put down five blocks, but Kansas finished the game with 24 digs to hold off the Gamecock attack long enough to come out with the win.
SET TWO: Kansas rode the momentum to a 5-0 start to set two, forcing the Gamecocks into a quick timeout. The Jayhawks rode that advantage late into the set, pushing ahead to 17-11 before Carolina rallied back. The Gamecocks scored nine of the next 13 points to cut the deficit to one, and were able to deny a Kansas set point at 24-23 to tie up the set for the first time since 0-0. Claire Edwards and Jess Vastine combined for a block to put Carolina up 26-25, and Mikayla Shields’ fifth kill of the set closed out the comeback and evened up the match.
SET THREE: South Carolina’s defense quite literally blocked out any chance of Kansas response in the third, putting down seven blocks in the set en route to a 25-18 win and a 2-1 lead. Of those seven blocks, six came in the team’s final 11 points of the set, helping Carolina push away from a 13-all tie to a 22-15 advantage. Britt McLean drove the team’s energy on the court and led the offense with four kills to go with four blocks.
SET FOUR: The Jayhawks took a 3-1 lead from the opening serve, but wilted under pressure from a Gamecock side that was clicking in all phases. A 6-0 Carolina run quickly made it 7-3 and forced a Kansas timeout, and the run expanded out to a 13-1 after blocks on three consecutive attacks brought about another timeout from Kansas. Four different hitters had three or more kills for South Carolina, which out-hit the Jayhawks .414 to -.059, and the match was clinched by a 25-13 margin.
- Saturday was the team’s first win against a current Big 12 team since 2012, when the Gamecocks swept West Virginia.
- South Carolina’s 18 total blocks are the most in a single match since getting 20 in a five-set match against St. John’s almost 13 years to the day (9/8/06). In the rally-scoring era (since 2001), the 18 blocks ranks fifth-most for a match of any length.
- Claire Edwards guided the team’s success at the net, with two solo blocks and six block assists. Eight total blocks is a new career high for the senior.
- Mikayla Robinson’s seven total blocks move her up to 7thin the rally-scoring era. The junior now has 229.
- With 36 assists and 11 digs, Courtney Koehler recorded her 19thcareer double-double, which appropriately moves her up to 19thin program history.
- Jess Vastine’s 14 kills and 14 digs give her two double-doubles in the first five matches of 2019. The junior had just one for her career coming into the season.
NEXT UP: The team ends its weekend at 1 p.m. on Sunday against Albany (1-3). The Great Danes play host UCF Saturday night, and were swept by Kansas in their tournament opener.