Volleyball Finishes Regular Season With Emphatic Sweep of Arkansas
The team got 39 total kills from its six-woman senior class Friday night
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Gamecock volleyball sent its senior class out in style Friday night, closing the 2019 regular season with a 3-0 sweep of Arkansas, 25-19, 25-18, 25-22. Mikayla Shields made her final time in the Carolina Volleyball Center count, leading the team with 17 kills and passing 1,500 career kills in the match. South Carolina finishes the regular season with a 19-11 overall record, and an 11-7 mark in SEC play. Arkansas finishes its season at 11-19, 5-13 SEC.
SET ONE: South Carolina’s offense tore out to a fast start to open the match, hitting .519 with 17 kills to pull away early with a 25-19 win. Shields had five kills on six attacks in the set, also adding an ace and three digs. She was joined by strong games from classmates Claire Edwards and Britt McLean (three kills each) and Addie Bryant, who had four digs and a kill. Out of a 4-4 tie, the Gamecocks used the service of Jess Vastine and Courtney Koehler to score 11 of the next 13 total points to blow the score open and earn a 1-0 lead in the match.
SET TWO: Shields and McLean would be all the team needed to make the difference in set two; the two seniors combined for 10 kills, more than Arkansas had as a team, and South Carolina took a 2-0 lead with a 25-18 win. The Gamecocks led wire-to-wire in the set, getting a big 9-0 behind senior Alicia Starr’s serve to turn a 12-11 lead into the team’s biggest advantage of the night at 21-11.
SET THREE: After its offense led the way in the first two games, South Carolina leaned on its defense to clinch the sweep. Arkansas overcame a 4-0 start to the set for the Gamecocks and were able to work its way back to a 14-14 tie before reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week Mikayla Robinson stepped in and put a halt to the rally. Three blocks in a row put Carolina ahead for good, the third pushing Robinson past 130 blocks for the year, a new personal best. Starr put the finishing touches on the win – literally – taking the serve reception and giving Koehler her 36th assist of the night with a kill to end the match.
- Friday’s win was the 11th of the conference season for South Carolina, the most conference wins in a season since 2008, when the team went 12-8.
- The team’s combined .427 hitting percentage is the second-highest success rate of the season. For the season, South Carolina is hitting .264 as a team, the program’s highest hitting percentage since 2002’s record-setting mark of .279.
- Mikayla Shields’ sixth kill of the match was also the 1,500th of her illustrious career. The senior is just the fourth member of the program to reach the milestone. Her 379 kills this season currently ranks seventh-most in the program’s rally-scoring era.
- With nine more blocks Friday night, the Gamecocks have 263 total blocks this season. Their 2.48 blocks per set average is the highest for a single season since 2005. Mikayla Robinson’s 130 total blocks (26 solo) are the second-most in the team’s rally-scoring era, but her 96 blocks in SEC play alone are a new team record.
- Addie Bryant now has 406 digs this season, moving her up to 7th for a single season in the team’s rally-scoring era.
- Courtney Koehler sits at 3,594 career assists following Friday’s match. She is just eight assists away from moving up to third in the program’s all-time history for the category, she is already the program’s rally-scoring-era leader in assists.
- Alicia Starr’s three service aces are a new career high for the senior. She also added three kills, two digs, and was perfect on 18 serve receptions.
QUOTABLE: HEAD COACH TOM MENDOZA
On the 2019 senior class
I’m proud of the whole group, and particularly happy for the seniors for their season and the mark they’ll leave on the program. Each class comes in and tries to make the program better during their time at South Carolina and there’s no question that this group accomplished that. There’s really not much more we could have asked from them either on or off the court. It’s a great group to get to work with each day.
NEXT UP: The team will learn its postseason fate on Sunday night, when the NCAA holds its annual tournament selection show. It will air live on ESPNU at 8:30 on Sunday, Dec. 1. The Gamecocks are looking to make their ninth NCAA tournament, and earn back-to-back postseasons bids for the first time since 2002.