Defense Powers Volleyball to Sweep of Auburn
The team allowed the lowest hitting percentage by an opponent dating back to 2004
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Defense reigned for the Gamecock volleyball team Sunday afternoon, as the team rallied back to earn its first win of SEC play with a sweep of Auburn (6-7, 0-2 SEC), 25-19, 25-13, 25-17. South Carolina out-blocked the Tigers 10-6 and held visitor’s offense to just a .033 hitting percentage. Claire Edwards led the offense with 10 kills and hit .471 in the match, helping the Gamecocks to their first sweep of Auburn since Nov. 6, 2009.
SET ONE: Edwards sparked the team right from set one, as she totaled six kills in the opening set alone to lead the way in a 25-19 win. The Gamecocks trailed 9-7 early, but would come back for eight of the next 11 points to grab a lead heading into the TV timeout. Addie Bryant remained locked in behind the service line, using her float serve to spark a run that pushed the Gamecock lead all the way to 17-12 before the Tigers were able to get a sideout. Edwards put away three over-passes from Auburn’s serve receive in the set, her third giving the team a 22-15 lead.
SET TWO: After finding success as an attacker in the opening set, Edwards continued to wreak havoc on Auburn in set two – only this time it was behind the service line. The senior dropped in a pair of aces in the team’s first five points of the set, sparking a 14-3 run to open the game in a 25-13 decision. South Carolina out-hit Auburn .364 to .043 in the set, with Jess Vastine taking the bulk of the swings for the offense and sending home four kills. Edwards finished the set with three service aces, and along with four blocks from the Gamecock defense, Auburn totaled just seven kills in the game.
SET THREE: The defense again would be key in the final game, totaling four more blocks to put Auburn’s team hitting percentage in the negatives in a 25-17 score. Outside of the efforts of Tatum Shipes, Auburn’s other hitters combined for one kill and nine errors on 25 swings in the set. Along with the four blocks, South Carolina’s back line of defense had a match-high 18 digs in the set, five coming from Bryant. Edwards put away four more kills to hit double digits for the day, and the Gamecocks wrapped up the sweep.
- Mikayla Shields passed 1,300 career kills in the match, finishing with five total. She is just the fourth Gamecock in the program’s 47-year history to pass the milestone.
- Auburn’s offense hit just .033 for the match, it was the lowest percentage allowed by the Gamecocks in a SEC match since Nov. 7, 2004, when Arkansas hit .025.
- Over eight sets this weekend, the Gamecock defense recorded 26 total blocks.
- Along with her team-high 10 kills, Claire Edwards also notched three service aces, tying a career high for the senior. She now has 14 for the season, which already matches the best single-season total of her career.
- Auburn entered the match with a 12-5 record in the last decade of the series, including a 6-3 record in Columbia. This is South Carolina’s first sweep of Auburn since Nov. 6, 2009, a span of 16 matches.
QUOTABLE: HEAD COACH TOM MENDOZA
On the team’s bounce-back performance
“I thought this was really a complete match, I thought we were able to put together our blocking and our defense which is something we’ve been working on, and our serve receive was really good and our serve receive offense was really good. Not just putting together just those three components, but putting together three good and consistent sets. That’s something we can point to and hopefully try to build on going into another tough week of SEC play. It was a tough loss on Friday, I was really proud of the way the team handled it and took it as a team and used it as motivation to play a little better (today).”
NEXT UP: The defending conference champions await, as the Gamecocks travel up to Lexington Friday for an evening match against the Kentucky Wildcats. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m. and will air on the SEC Network+.