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Whitesides Named SEC Volleyball Freshman of the Week
Women's Volleyball  . 

Whitesides Named SEC Volleyball Freshman of the Week

The South Carolina native led the Gamecocks to an upset of No. 4 Florida on Thursday

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina volleyball’s Riley Whitesides collected Freshman of the Week honors from the Southeastern Conference Tuesday afternoon. She is the seventh Gamecock in program history to earn Freshman of the Week honors and follows the success of classmate Ellie Ruprich, who earned freshman of the week honors on Oct. 19. Whitesides led the team in kills in back-to-back games against No. 4 Florida (5-1), highlighted by a career night helping Carolina upset the Gators in five sets last Thursday.

“Riley put herself in a great position to compete this fall and she continued to improve and learn from each match,” head coach Tom Mendoza said. “I’m excited for her to be recognized because she works incredibly hard on her game and is a great teammate.”

Whitesides led the team with 32 kills over eight total sets against Florida to help the Gamecocks (5-3) split its final games of the fall. The freshman from Greenville, S.C. battled against a big Gator block in Wednesday’s opener but still led the team with nine kills in a three-set loss. She adapted quickly, though, and on Thursday night she put home 23 kills on 46 swings with only four errors as South Carolina beat Florida for the first time since 2006 – a span of 24 matches.

It was not just a good overall performance, but she shined when it mattered most. Trailing 12-10 in the fifth set on Thursday, Whitesides kills accounted for all five of the team’s final points to cap the upset.

“I’m just so happy and so proud of the team because it was our last game of the season and we just wanted to come out with a bang… We’d worked so hard to get to the fifth set and we’d worked so hard this whole season, why would we just let it slip away? So we just flipped the switch and we just turned it on and it was the most fun,” Whitesides said after Thursday’s win.

Not only did she bear the load offensively, but the freshman pin also finished the series with 83 serve receptions – well over half the receptions the team totaled for the week – and had seven digs in Thursday’s win. Whitesides finished her first fall with the program averaging a team-high 3.14 kills and also chipping in 2.14 digs per set.

Follow @GamecockVolley on social media for updates on the team entering the anticipated spring portion of the 2020-21 season.