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Gamecocks Outlast Georgia in Conference Opener
Women's Volleyball  . 

Gamecocks Outlast Georgia in Conference Opener

The team called for a convincing result in set five to take down the Bulldogs

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The opening game of SEC play provided all the dramatics for South Carolina volleyball Wednesday night, as the Gamecocks (9-2, 1-0 SEC) edged Georgia (4-8, 0-1 SEC) in five sets. Reigning SEC player of the week Lauren McCutcheon stood out in her first career conference match, totaling 13 kills, 10 digs and seven blocks, and Mikayla Robinson added 15 kills with a .591 hitting percentage for the night.
SET ONE: The two sides set the tone for the night early, with 14 ties and six lead changes in the opening game before the Bulldogs came out with a 26-24 win. Georgia enjoyed a big advantage on offense, out-hitting South Carolina .333 to .162, and also totaling four blocks but it couldn’t put the Gamecocks away. Georgia led early, 12-9, but South Carolina used four kills each from McCutcheon and Robinson to work its way back into contention, even taking a 19-17 lead late. The teams traded 3-0 runs from there, with Ellie Ruprich serving the team to a 23-20 lead late. It was unable to hold on, though, getting a set-point chance at 24-23 before surrendering three unanswered points.
SET TWO: The Gamecocks responded with a shootout win in the second set, hitting .519 on offense to get a 25-17 win and even the match. South Carolina was able to build a comfortable lead early, exceling in all phases of the game; the Gamecocks had a 2-0 advantage in blocks, a 2-0 advantage in aces and added 16 total kills. McCutcheon led the way with five kills and Riley Whitesides added four on six swings. Georgia was able to hit .323, but couldn’t slow the Gamecocks down as the home side did not trail once in the game.
SET THREE: The statistics shifted back to Georgia’s favor in the third, but South Carolina still managed to secure a 25-22 win and take a 2-1 lead in the match. The Bulldogs hit .367 as a team and enjoyed a commanding 6-2 advantage in blocks, but five service errors kept the visitors from making any game-breaking runs. After seven ties early, the Gamecocks won a key video review that ultimately gave it the lead for good. In a 13-all tie, South Carolina was able to side out on a service error and then got a call for Georgia overturned that quickly made it 15-13 for the Gamecocks. Five different hitters recorded kills for South Carolina from that point on, with the combination of Robinson and Kyla Manning accounting for nine of the team’s 15 total kills. Georgia cut the score to 22-21 late, but committed two more service errors after that to help hand the Gamecocks the win.
SET FOUR: The Bulldogs cleaned up the serve game in the fourth and it fueled a dominant 25-17 win that would force a fifth set. Georgia had three aces and no errors behind the line, while South Carolina had no aces but three errors. Neither team’s offense had a particularly strong showing, but Georgia held South Carolina to a .138 hitting percentage and just 10 kills and pulled away with a 10-3 run that broke a 10-all tie for the convincing result.
SET FIVE: After a lackluster showing in the fourth, South Carolina was able to exorcise its demons from the fourth set and rolled to a 15-7 score in the fifth to get the win. The Gamecocks recorded four of its 11 total blocks in the fifth set alone, holding Georgia to four kills against eight attack errors. Out of a 4-4 tie, Caitlin Crawford and Mallory Dixon served the team to big runs that put the game to rest quickly. Three of the four South Carolina’s blocks in the set came in three consecutive plays to turn a 9-6 score into a 12-6 rout and igniting the crowd of 1,141 fans in the Carolina Volleyball Center.

  • Wednesday was the fifth time since 2017 that the two teams went the full five sets, a span of eight matches. Each team had won twice going into the game.
  • Robinson’s .591 hitting percentage is the second-highest success rate by a Gamecock in a five-set match in the program’s 49-year history. She now sits behind only Megan Kent (.600 vs. ETSU (8/25/2012))
  • McCutcheon’s seven blocks led the team and is a new personal best for the freshman. Her previous high for blocks this season was three. She also recorded a personal best with 39 serve receptions, committing just one error.
  • Along with 10 kills, Riley Whitesides finished with a career-high three aces behind the service line Wednesday.
  • Under head coach Tom Mendoza, South Carolina is 16-6 in five-set matches.
  • With 1,141 fans in the stands for the match, the Gamecocks have drawn crowds of 1,000 or more fans five times in eight home games. 

The Gamecocks hit the road to finish week one of conference play, traveling to the Lone Star State for a Sunday matinee against Texas A&M. First serve with the Aggies is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET and the game will air nationally on the SEC Network. Tyler Denning and Holly McPeak will call the match.