Volleyball Loses to Santa Clara
The Gamecocks play at Winthrop next, with a 7 p.m. first serve on Thursday, Sept. 16
KENNESAW, GA. – Struggles for the South Carolina defense led to a four-set defeat to Santa Clara (2-4) on Friday afternoon. The Gamecocks (6-2) allowed 12 aces for the Broncos and allowed them to hit over .300 in the match, snapping a four-game win streak. Riley Whitesides led the team with 12 kills for the game.
SET ONE: Santa Clara held the momentum early, putting the Gamecocks on their heels on serve. The Broncos used a 4-0 run to force Carolina into a timeout with a 14-9 score, but out of the break the Gamecocks were able to slowly work back into the set. A block from Robinson and McCutcheon made it a 15-14 deficit but Santa Clara stretched the lead back to 19-15.
After siding out, Kyla Manning served the team to a 5-0 run of its own to give the team a 20-19 lead and it would soon be set point at 24-22. The Broncos put down kills on back-to-back plays to tie the set at 24, but an attack error and Manning’s third kill of the set provided the clinching point in a 26-24 score. When it was able to run its offense, South Carolina was efficient, hitting .346 in the opener with five different hitters finishing with multiple kills.
SET TWO: South Carolina had another error-prone start in the second, but were unable to find another rally in them in a 25-17 final that had Santa Clara even the match at 1-1. Five unforced errors by the Gamecocks early helped Santa Clara push ahead 16-10 and the Broncos cruised from there. South Carolina was aced three times in the set and allowed Santa Clara to hit .438 without committing a single error on the attack. Conversely, the Gamecock attackers had six attacking errors despite the Broncos recording zero blocks.
SET THREE: The third set followed a similar storyline for the Gamecocks; errors accounted for half of Santa Clara’s first 16 points of the set and the Broncos again stormed out to a big lead early at 16-8. South Carolina would get no closer than six points the rest of the way in a 25-16 final to push the Broncos ahead 2-1 in the match.
SET FOUR: There would be no big runs allowed for either side in the fourth, but South Carolina was unable to slow Santa Clara’s momentum and the Broncos closed the match with a 25-22 win in the fourth. The Broncos had a match-high 17 kills while hitting .302 in the set, surpassing a solid output of 14 kills at a .297 clip for South Carolina. In a 12-all score early on, Santa Clara scored three consecutive kills and carried that lead across the finish line.
- After allowing opponents no more than six aces in any single match entering Friday, Santa Clara surpassed that by the second set and finished with 12 in the match. The Gamecocks had been aced 12 times combined over the last four games before Friday.
- Kiune Fletcher had a solid day off the bench; the sophomore had a personal-best five kills on seven swings along with a pair of digs.
- Mikayla Robinson had an uncharacteristic day on the attack, committing six errors with just three kills. In her 122 career matches as a Gamecock, she has only three games with more errors than kills.
- The defense finished with four blocks for the match, a season low. Santa Clara hit .301 over the four sets, the highest by any opponent so far this fall.
- Ellie Ruprich broke out of an offensive slump with seven kills and no errors over 13 swings Friday to go along with six kills on a .308 success rate Thursday vs. Kennesaw State. The sophomore had previously totaled 11 kills on a .047 hitting percentage in the previous four matches coming into the week.
Next week brings two standalone matches, one on the road and one back in the Carolina Volleyball Center. The Gamecocks head to the upstate on Thursday for a 7 p.m. match at Winthrop, then return home for a Saturday match against High Point at 4 p.m. which will mark the final non-conference match of the fall for South Carolina.