Gamecocks Drop Five-Set Decision at Georgia
ATHENS, GA. – South Carolina (7-6, 1-2 SEC) lost in five sets at Georgia (10-3, 1-1 SEC) Wednesday night, rallying to win the fourth to force its second fifth-set match in as many games. It was also the fifth match to go the distance in the last eight meetings between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs. The two defenses combined for 42 total blocks, including a program-record 24 from the Bulldogs. Oby Anadi and Ellie Ruprich each had nine blocks for South Carolina, Riley Whitesides led the offense with 15 kills.
1st SET: For two teams that know each other so well, the opening frame was a grind for the offenses. South Carolina had just 11 kills but got a boost behind the service line and from its blockers in a 25-23 win. Oby Anadi led the defense with three blocks, also adding a pair of kills, with her final block clinching the set after the Bulldogs rallied late. The Gamecocks broke out of an 11-all tie with a 10-5 run, but Georgia answered with four unanswered points and finally tied the set back up at 23. Coming out of a Gamecock timeout, the visitors were able to side out with a Georgia service error and Anadi ended it with the block.
2nd SET: The script flipped in the second as Georgia evened the match at one set apiece. There were seven ties before either team made it to 12 points. It was the Bulldogs that went on a run first though, breaking an 11-11 tie with eight of the next 11 points to take a comfortable lead and hold off Carolina in a 25-20 score. Both offenses were stymied again, but Georgia’s defense had the advantage in blocks and held the Gamecocks to almost as many attack errors (8) as kills (9).
3rd SET: Early errors hurt the Gamecocks to start the third, Georgia scored three of its first seven points of the game off blocks and went on a 8-0 run to build a 9-2 lead. The Bulldog defense again frustrated the Carolina hitters, limiting the attackers to just nine kills again, but the Gamecocks were able to rally late thanks to its net defense. Down 23-15, South Carolina used three big blocks in an 8-1 run to get back to within one, but could close out a long rally in the end with the chance to tie and Georgia won 25-23 for a 2-1 set lead.
4th SET: Georgia again set the tone with blocking early in the fourth. The Bulldogs scored three of their first six points on blocks and forced a quick South Carolina timeout with a 6-1 lead. The Gamecocks were able to work the score back to 13-13 but three errors in a row gave Georgia the lead right back. The key run would come just a few points later, a 4-0 run punctuated by a solo block from Ellie Ruprich to push Carolina ahead 21-19. Another block soon after gave the Gamecocks set point at 24-22, Georgia tied it with two points but Carolina recovered for the next two in a 26-24 win. The win came despite the home side’s best set of night blocking, Georgia piled up nine more to set a program record for a single game.
5th SET: Neither team found much daylight early in the fifth, with five ties in the first 10 combined points of the set. South Carolina used a Whitesides kill to go into the side switch with an 8-6 lead, but Georgia came out with back-to-back aces to flip the scoreboard with a 3-0 run. The team’s were knotted up again at 10 and 11, Georgia got the first real advantage of the late game with two points in a row to make it 13-11. The Bulldogs would not let the lead slip again, ending the match with their 24th block in a 15-12 final.
The team wraps up its opening stretch of five SEC games in eight days when it hosts Missouri for two matches at the Carolina Volleyball Center. Official game times are set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1 and 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 2. Saturday’s match will be a SEC Network+ broadcast, Sunday will have a national broadcast on the SEC Network. Follow @GamecockVolley on Twitter for updates on the team.