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Gamecocks Fight Their Way to Split in Saturday Doubleheader
Beach Volleyball  . 

Gamecocks Fight Their Way to Split in Saturday Doubleheader

The team faced two of the top 15 teams in the country in Malibu, Calif. on Saturday

MALIBU, CALIF. – The 15th-ranked South Carolina beach volleyball program opened its first matches ever in California on Saturday, splitting duals against nationally ranked opponents. The Gamecocks (4-6) fell just a few points shy of upsetting No. 9 Pepperdine, but rallied back to end the day with a thrilling 3-2 win over No. 14 Long Beach State.

Opening the day against the host Waves, South Carolina was clawing for every point in a dual that was close from start to finish. All five courts played deuce sets (meaning a final margin of the minimum two points), and while Pepperdine pushed out to a 2-0 lead in the team score, the Gamecocks remained in striking distance. Morgyn Greer and Jordan Smith got the team on the board with a 21-19, 21-16 win in the fifth flight, and Carolina pushed the second and fourth pairs to a third set – needing to win both to secure the win. Pepperdine clinched the dual with a 23-25, 21-13, 15-11 win in the fours, then sealed the final 4-1 margin with a 21-19, 22-24, 15-13 win at the twos.

The afternoon dual against Long Beach State would somehow be even more wild, as the two sides would play three sets on four of the five courts. The last time the Gamecocks had a dual with four or more matches going to three sets was March 3, 2018 against FAU. Katie Smith and Skylar Allen secured the lone sweep for either team in the match, winning 21-14, 21-17 at number two. For Smith, it was her 75th career win overall, making the senior just the third member of the program to ever reach the milestone. The other courts fought on, with the next final coming in from court three, where Avery Davis and Franky Harrison shook off a 22-20 loss in the opening set to win 21-11 in the second and squeak out a 17-15 final in the third to make it 2-0 for Carolina.

Long Beach answered with some clutch results of its own, though, and evened the team score at 2-2 with three-set wins at four and five to turn the attention to center court for the number one pairing. Carly Schnieder and Jess Vastine dropped their opening set 21-15, but pushed back with a 21-17 win that sent the dual to a sudden-death third. After trailing early, Schnieder and Vastine were able to pull ahead late. Both sides would have match-point opportunities, but Carolina was able to get a side-out and then score the winner on a poke-shot from Schnieder. 

The road is even tougher for South Carolina tomorrow. The Gamecocks will play No. 10 Stetson and No. 8 Loyola Marymount tomorrow in Santa Monica to end the weekend’s duals. These will make 10 ranked opponents in the team’s first 12 duals of the season. First serve against Stetson will be at 1 p.m. ET, the dual against LMU will be at 3:30 ET.

1: Deahna Kraft/Brook Bauer (PEPP) def. Jess Vastine/Carly Schnieder (SC) – 21-19, 21-14
2: Alexis Filippone/Gigi Hernandez (PEPP) def. Skylar Allen/Katie Smith (SC) – 21-19, 22-24, 15-13
3: Carly Skjodt/Sutton Mactavish (PEPP) def. Franky Harrison/Avery Davis (SC) – 21-19, 21-9
4: Simone Priebe/Melanie Paul (PEPP) def. Madison Brabham/Hannah Edelman (SC) – 23-25, 21-13, 15-11
5: Morgyn Greer/Jordan Smith (SC) def. Savana Greene/Katie Gavin (PEPP) – 21-19, 21-16
Ex: Peyton Lewis/Maddy Bailey (PEPP) vs. Kaeli Crews/Sarah Nacouzi (SC) – 18-21, 21-17, 14-16
Order of Finish: 1, 3, 5, 4*, 2

1: Jess Vastine/Carly Schnieder (SC) def. Mari Molina/Tyler Spriggs (LBSU) – 15-21, 21-17, 17-15
2: Skylar Allen/Katie Smith (SC) def. Sydney Stevens/Katie Kennedy (LBSU) – 21-14, 21-17
3: Franky Harrison/Avery Davis (SC) def. Alice Pratesi/Makenzie Griffin (LBSU) – 20-22, 21-11, 17-15
4: Nicci Reinking/Claire Newlander (LBSU) def. Madison Brabham/Hannah Edelman (SC) – 21-14, 18-21, 15-13
5: Jillian Rodriguez/Emily Mattoon (LBSU) def. Morgyn Greer/Jordan Smith (SC) – 21-17, 17-21, 15-8
Ex: Savannah Lyons/Hanna Farnsworth (LBSU) vs. Kaeli Crews/Sarah Nacouzi (USC) – Official score not kept
Order of Finish: 2, 3, 5, 4, 1*