Whitesides Powers Offense in Sweep of Ole Miss
The reigning SEC Freshman of the Week hit .700 with 15 kills in the win
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Guided by an efficient afternoon from freshman Riley Whitesides, South Carolina volleyball ran its record to 11-6 overall with a sweep of Ole Miss (1-14) Saturday afternoon, 25-19, 26-24, 25-19. The Gamecock offense hit .392 as a group, with Whitesides leading all attackers with 15 kills and just one error on 20 total attacks. It is the second-highest hitting percentage for a South Carolina pin hitter in the rally-scoring era.
SET ONE: Both teams enjoyed a healthy offense in the opening set, Ole Miss finished with a .414 hitting percentage but were out-gunned by South Carolina’s 16 kills on 25 swings with just three errors – good for a .520 hitting percentage. Whitesides converted six swings into five kills to lead the team in the set, but she would not be alone. McKenzie Moorman went 4-for-4 on her attacks, Mikayla Robinson had three kills on four swings and Kyla Manning had three kills and two aces. All told, Ole Miss only recorded six digs in the set and would not lead past the opening point of the set. Manning had her service aces back-to-back to break an 8-all tie and South Carolina would lead the rest of the way.
SET TWO: Ole Miss threatened to even up the match thanks to an early 7-2 lead and a late rally in the second, but the Gamecocks pulled out a 26-24 win to assert themselves with a 2-0 lead. Whitesides accounted for more than half of the team’s total kills in the second, putting away eight on 10 swings, but the Rebels had four attackers with two or more kills and the visitors would actually out-hit Carolina for the set (.333 to .321). In a 19-19 game late, Camilla Covas sparked a 4-0 run thanks to a pair of aces, but Ole Miss rallied back and denied the Gamecocks a set point opportunity at 24-23. Manning’s third kill of the set put the team back in front and it would seal the deal.
SET THREE: The Rebels again got out ahead of South Carolina to start the third, but the home side used consistency behind the service line to get even early and pull away for a comfortable 25-19 score that closed the match. Covas, Mallory Dixon and Manning each had success putting the Rebel passers on their heels with their serves, Manning added two more aces and Covas had her third of the night in the set. Whitesides early success drew the attention of Ole Miss and freed up the offense to find equally successful options across the net. In the middle, Robinson finished with five kills in the set and on the right pin Holly Eastridge converted five swings into four kills, including the game winner.
Sunday will reunite the two sides one more time, it will again be a 2 p.m. first serve in the Carolina Volleyball Center. The match will offer an opportunity for South Carolina to match the second-highest win total in SEC play in program history. Only the 2000 and 2008 teams have hit 12 conference wins, and they trail the program record holders – the 2002 team that finished 14-2. Sunday’s match can again be followed on the SEC Network+.