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Volleyball Downs Ole Miss in Home Finale
Women's Volleyball  . 

Volleyball Downs Ole Miss in Home Finale

The team clinched its highest SEC win total in 13 years with the win

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina volleyball ended the 2020-21 home season ended on a special note Sunday afternoon, as the Gamecocks defeated Ole Miss in four sets to move to 12-6 for the season. That win total ties a mark that only three South Carolina teams have hit in the program’s time competing in the Southeastern Conference. 
SET ONE: Ole Miss followed up on a strong offensive showing in Saturday’s opener by putting together a decisive opening performance Sunday, winning 25-18 while out-hitting the Gamecocks .393 to .103. It was the Rebel’s defense that hurt them on Saturday, but in the first set they were able to get 15 digs off 29 swings for South Carolina and limited it to just eight combined kills. Riley Whitesides accounted for three of them to lead the offense, but after Ole Miss broke away from a 6-6 score with an 8-1 run the Gamecocks would not threaten again. 
SET TWO: It was a battle for control in the second, with Ole Miss going for the big lead while South Carolina aimed to regroup. The Rebels jumped out to a big lead at 8-3, but the Gamecocks were able to work their way back and tie things up at 15. After going without a block in the first, the net defense came up big for Carolina with five blocks in the second. Out of that 15-all tie, three blocks – all with a hand from freshman Ellie Ruprich – pushed the team ahead 20-15 and completed what was a 10-1 run. The Gamecocks held set point at 24-21, but errors gave Ole Miss a break and soon the set would be tied at 24. While it never had a set point opportunity, Ole Miss denied the Gamecocks until they found back-to-back kills from Whitesides and Ruprich to end it at 30-28. 
SET THREE: South Carolina saw the early storyline from set two flip in the third, the Gamecocks held an early 12-6 lead but the Rebels battled their way back to tie it again at 15 and briefly take the lead at 18-17. It remained a tight score until a late break for Carolina, when back-to-back kills from Mikayla Robinson and Whitesides were punctuated by aces on consecutive serves from Mallory Dixon took a 21-20 Carolina lead and ended the set at 25-20 for a 2-1 advantage for the home side. 
SET FOUR: The final set featured perhaps South Carolina’s best defensive showing of the spring. Ole Miss finished with just four kills as a team and were blocked five times by the Gamecock defense in a 25-13 blowout the sealed the win. Mikayla Robinson, a week removed from reaching 400 career blocks, showed why she has been such a special talent in her four seasons in Columbia, getting a hand on four of the team’s five blocks in the set. The offense needed just 11 kills to get to 25, but hit an efficient .400 to get there. Not to be outdone by her defensive effort in the set, Robinson also led the offense with four kills on just six swings. Combo blocks from Robinson and Kyla Manning pushed the early lead to 15-7, and after weathering a 5-0 Rebel run the team scored the final nine points of the set unanswered. A block from Robinson and Kiune Fletcher sided out Ole Miss at 16-13 and Lauren Bowers served up the decisive run.

  • The team finished with 12 total blocks in the match, highlighted by Ruprich (two solo, five assists) and Robinson (five solo). Since the beginning of February, the team’s blocking production had slumped but it has now finished with double-digit blocks in two of the last three games.
  • Ruprich now has 81 total blocks this season. Only Mikayla Robinson in 2019 (96) and Belita Salters in 2007 (94) have recorded more blocks in SEC play in a single season.
  • This South Carolina team is now tied with the 2008 group for most SEC wins in a single season. The program record holder is 2002’s squad which finished 14-2. Of those 12 wins, eight have come in the Carolina Volleyball Center, tying the 2008 team for most home conference wins in a season.

The team hits the road for the last two weekends of the 2020-21 season. First up will be a series at LSU next Saturday and Sunday. Both matches have a 2 p.m. ET first serve.