Volleyball Staves Off Clemson Comeback to Earn Road Win
The victory is the fifth straight in the series with South Carolina's arch-rival
CLEMSON, S.C. – South Carolina survived a scare Thursday night, but rallied late for a five-set win at Clemson (5-3) to run its win streak to four, 25-23, 25-20, 19-25, 22-25, 15-10. The Gamecocks (5-3), powered by 22 kills from senior Mikayla Shields, run their win streak over the Tigers to five matches.
“I’m very proud of them, we talked about being a better road team, so to get any road win – especially against a good Clemson team – is really exciting for us and is something if we want to be successful we’ll need to get better at,” head coach Tom Mendoza said after the match. “It was a great match, a really good show for volleyball in the state of South Carolina, just really glad to come away with the win.”
The Gamecocks rolled to a quick 2-0 lead in the match, hitting .420 with just five total attacking errors in the two sets combined. Shields would be the driving force behind that success, putting down ten kills in the first two games, but Clemson rallied back behind the service line to even the match.
The Tigers totaled five service aces in the third set and three more in the fourth, and were able to get the Carolina offense out of system. Clemson limited the Gamecocks to just ten kills in the third set, staving off defeat with a 25-19 while holding South Carolina to a .167 hitting percentage behind four big blocks. In the fourth, the Gamecocks would be its own worst enemy, committing 12 unforced errors in a 25-22 loss that sent it to a fifth set. Those errors came on the attack, three came on serves, three more on aces from the Tigers, and three on setting errors.
Those errors would need to be forgotten heading to the fifth, and after falling behind early in the final set, the Gamecocks were able to pull away for the 15-10 win. Clemson took a 4-2 lead and was up 8-7 as the team switched sides, but it would be a sequence from a new member to the rivalry that keyed the team’s turnaround. Freshman Holly Eastridge put away her seventh kill of the night to tie the set up at 9-9, and on the following play she teamed with Claire Edwards for a big block that put the team ahead for the first time in the fifth.
Edwards made it 11-10 with a kill and Courtney Koehler would keep her serve the rest of the way, with the Gamecocks closing on a 5-0 run. Koehler dropped in an aces to start her run behind the service line, and kills from Alicia Starr and Jess Vastine closed out the win.
- The five-game win streak for South Carolina over Clemson is the longest since 1989, when the Tigers snapped a streak that had gone six years and spanned 14 wins.
- With the win tonight, the Gamecocks are 7-2 in five-set matches under head coach Tom Mendoza.
- South Carolina’s offense hit .325 for the match, the fifth-highest hitting percentage in a five-set match in program history and highest in a five-setter since Nov. 23, 2012 against Arkansas.
- Mikayla Shields’ five service aces are tied for the fifth most in a five-set match in program history, and is one off her career high.
- Clemson finished the night with 14 service aces, the most by a Gamecock opponent since Notre Dame had 15 back on Sept. 19, 2004
QUOTABLE: SENIOR MIKAYLA SHIELDS
On finishing her career undefeated against Clemson
It means so much, in-state rivalries are such an important part about being a student-athlete. You get to represent yourself but your entire school, and we have something special with Clemson. To come in as a senior knowing we have done something amazing and beating them all four years from the time we were freshmen and closing out that series is an amazing feeling.
NEXT UP: The Gamecocks close out the Clemson Classic Friday night with a matchup against No. 9 Wisconsin. First serve against the Badgers is scheduled for 6 p.m.