Shields Spearheads Gamecock Offense in Sweep of LSU
The team hit over .400 for the second time in the last three matches to beat the Tigers, 3-0
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina volleyball ran its win streak to three on Friday night, out-gunning LSU (10-10, 4-6 SEC) in straight sets, 25-19, 25-20, 25-22. The Gamecocks hit .409 as a team, and got a vintage performance from senior Mikayla Shields (17 kills, .640 hitting percentage) to push their record to 14-8 overall and 6-4 in SEC play.
SET ONE: The match opened with a shootout between Shields and LSU junior Taylor Bannister. The two combined for 13 of the 27 total kills in the set, and neither committed a single attacking error. The key to the win came behind the service line; South Carolina had three aces while the Tigers committed five errors without an ace. That would be a crucial difference, as both team’s offense were efficient in the 25-19 final. South Carolina hit .524 with 12 kills and LSU would have 15 kills with a .385 percentage, but an early push from the Gamecocks gave them an 8-3 lead, and the Tigers would get no closer than three points the rest of the way.
SET TWO: South Carolina would be able to corral Bannister in the second set, but Shields continued to cruise and helped the team take a 2-0 lead with seven more kills in the second set. As a whole, the offense had a match-high 19 kills in the second set, with McKenzie Moorman and Mikayla Robinson adding four kills apiece to Shields’ total. Despite the gaudy offensive numbers, Carolina was still nursing just a one-point lead late before a key serving stretch from Lauren Bowers. The sophomore took over service with the team ahead 20-18, and immediately started with an ace. After a LSU timeout, Bowers induced two easy transition balls that were put away by Shields and Edwards, and the Gamecocks rolled to the 25-20 win and a 2-0 lead.
SET THREE: The final set followed almost the exact same script as the first, with LSU’s offense perking up but the serving game coming up big again in a 25-22 score. The Tigers would out-kill the Gamecocks 17 to 13, but committed six more service errors behind the line. In a 12-all game, LSU committed three service errors in a 7-3 run for the Gamecocks that broke the game open. South Carolina’s defense would be sharpest in the final set, with 18 total digs and three team blocks. Addie Bryant and Bowers each chipped in five digs, and Shields had a solo block and four more kills, her 17th and final of the night coming as the match-winning point.
- Shields’ 17 kills in three sets is the highest total for any Gamecock in a three-set match Sept. 16, 2016 vs. Davidson, when Shields had 19 kills. It was the highest kill total for a three-set match against a SEC opponent since Juliette Thevenin had 18 at Mississippi State on Oct. 18, 2013.
- In the last three matches, the offense is hitting a combined .378 with two matches hitting over .400. In the rally-scoring era, the team’s .440 percentage against Alabama last Sunday ranks 10th-highest for a single match, and tonight’s .409 percentage ranks 18th.
- Mikayla Robinson and Claire Edwards combined for 16 kills on just 30 total swings and one error in the match. Robinson is now averaging 2.65 kills per set with a .391 hitting percentage in conference matches.
- With her service ace in the first set, Jess Vastine now has 20 for the year, one off the combined total from her first two seasons with the team.
- Lauren Bowers finished with five digs and a pair of aces; it’s a new single-game high in aces for the sophomore.
QUOTABLE: HEAD COACH TOM MENDOZA
On Mikayla Shields’s success attacking
“She was just going up and making really good decisions. When they were setting up down the line, she was making aggressive, smart attacks cross-court varying how deep. Sometimes she was putting the ball in front of defenders and sometimes she was driving the ball deep into the corners. When they pressed her cross-court she was able to turn the ball down the line and I think that’s one of the things she’s so effective at – teams know that Mikayla Shields is going to get the ball and that stopping her is a big priority, and she does a great job of taking what the defense gives her.”
NEXT UP: The team has Sunday off from competition, it will head west for its next action. On Friday, Nov. 8 the Gamecocks play Mississippi State at 8 p.m. ET in Starkville, then heads north for a Sunday matinee at Ole Miss. First serve against the Rebels will be at 2 p.m. ET.