Wilson Guides Gamecock Offense to Strong Showing in Sunday Sweep
The Gamecocks hit .333 to avenge a loss to Alabama on Saturday
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina brought an emphatic end to a losing streak on Sunday, hitting .333 as a team in a straight-set win over Alabama (10-11, 2-7 SEC), 25-17, 25-19, 26-24. Freshman Claire Wilson had a masterful game setting for the offense, dishing out 42 assists, with Kyla Manning (13 kills) and Riley Whitesides (11) reaching double figures on the attack.
SET ONE: South Carolina flipped the script from Saturday’s loss, playing clean offensively in a 25-17 score. The Gamecocks did not have a single attack error until the game was well in hand, out-hitting Alabama .464 to .031 with a 14-10 advantage in kills. Four different Gamecocks had three or more kills in the set, led by four from Manning. In a 5-all score early, South Carolina pressed ahead with a 14-5 run to cruise to the finish.
SET TWO: The offense kept chugging along in the second, hitting .344 for a 25-19 win and a 2-0 lead in the match. The three-woman combination of Manning, Ellie Ruprich and Mikayla Robinson combined for 12 kills and just one error, while Alabama had eight total attacking errors (six unforced) and hit .107. Ruprich also helped the team with a key run behind the service line, sparking a 4-1 stretch that broke a 11-11 tie.
SET THREE: The Gamecocks positioned themselves well for a sweep with a fast start to the third, but Alabama made a late push before falling 26-24 to close the match. Leading 18-12, South Carolina dropped nine of the next 11 points to see the Crimson Tide take the 21-20 lead late. The visitors had the first set point opportunity of the set at 24-23, but a Manning kill staved off the loss. A pair of Alabama attack errors closed the set, with Robinson and Lauren McCutcheon combining for the team’s ninth block of the afternoon to clinch it. South Carolina had a game-high 16 kills, but five blocks from Alabama kept its comeback hopes alive late. Whitesides’ six kills led the offense, with Ruprich (3), Robinson (3) and Manning (4) also chipping in multiple kills.
- Wilson’s 42 assists is the eighth-highest total for a three-set match in the rally scoring era and the most by a Gamecock setter in a three-set match since Aubrey Ezell on Oct. 14, 2015. The freshman averaged 13 assists per set in the two games against the Crimson Tide.
- Kyla Manning had a team-high 13 kills and did not commit a single error on her 26 total swings. It is her second error-less match of the season, the last coming against High Point (9/18).
- The offense’s .333 hitting percentage is tied for the highest in SEC play so far this season and second-highest for the year to date.
- With two solo blocks on Sunday, Ellie Ruprich now has 17 for the season. That ranks sixth for a single season in the program’s rally scoring era.
- The win snaps a five-game losing streak for South Carolina, the longest of head coach Tom Mendoza’s tenure.
- A day after combining for 30 kills and only five errors on 58 swings, Alabama’s duo of Kennedy Muckelroy and Kendyl Reaugh had just eight kills and 15 errors on Sunday.
The Gamecocks have a critical road series up next, heading to Ole Miss for two matches against the Rebels next weekend. The two teams play at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, Oct. 29 and Saturday, Oct. 30. Ole Miss is 15-5 overall for the year and 4-5 in conference matches.