Gamecocks Fall in Straight Sets Sunday
KNOXVILLE, TENN. – South Carolina yielded its lowest defensive output of the season in the series finale at Tennessee on Sunday afternoon, giving up the highest opponent hitting percentage of the season in a three-set defeat. The Gamecocks enter their bye week with a 9-8 overall record and 3-4 SEC mark, the Volunteers improve to 10-8 and 4-2, respectively.
1st SET: Tennessee scored the match’s first seven points, but the Gamecocks used some success behind the service line to try and chip away at the big deficit. Back-to-back aces from Dalaney Hans capped a 9-3 run to trim the Volunteer lead to 13-11, but Tennessee turned the pressure back up with a 4-0 run to force a Gamecock timeout with an 19-13 score and ended the set on a 5-0 run for a 25-15 final. The home side’s offense was crisp, committing zero errors on the attack with a .583 team hitting percentage and 14-10 advantage in kills. The Vols also out-blocked Carolina 3-0 and went for five aces in the opener.
2nd SET: A faster start in the second helped the Gamecock, who took a 5-1 lead off the bat, but Tennessee pressed and tied the score at 14. A 3-0 run, punctuated by a service ace by Jenna Hampton, pushed the lead back to 18-15. Again the home side responded, scoring a 4-1 run to turn a 22-20 Gamecock lead into a set-point opportunity at 24-23. A kill from Riley Whitesides denied the first chance, but Tennessee closed out with a side-out kill and a Carolina error for the 26-24 win and a 2-0 lead.
3rd SET: Tennessee jumped out to an 8-4 lead in the third, but South Carolina score seven of eight points from there to flip the score to 12-9 in its favor. Tennessee narrowed the advantage to 14-13, but McKenzie Moorman stretched the lead back out with consecutive kills in a 4-0 run. After trading points, the Gamecocks held a 22-19 lead thanks to Kiune Fletcher’s fourth kill of the set. The momentum swung hard from there, though, Tennessee scored the game’s final six points thanks to six errors from South Carolina – four attacking, one ball-handling and one blocking – to close the match at 25-22.
- After not playing in the series opener, Kiune Fletcher had a strong afternoon, highlighted by four kills in the third set on the way to a final line of eight kills and just two errors on 17 swings.
- Dalaney Hans had two service aces in the first set and finished with three for the match, her fourth time this season the setter had three or more aces in a single game.
- The combination of Hans and Camilla Covas – who led the team with four aces – helped the Gamecocks finish the day with a season-high nine aces as a team. The previous high was eight, done three different times this fall.
- South Carolina’s blockers did not record their first denial of Tennessee until early in the third set. Less than 24 hours after the two sides combined for 32 blocks, the teams had just nine on Sunday with the Volunteers commanding a 7-2 advantage.
- Tennessee’s .385 hitting percentage as a team is the highest allowed by South Carolina this season, surpassing the .380 mark by North Carolina on Sept. 2. The Vols committed no errors in the first set, two in the second and five in set three.
The Gamecocks get a well-deserved rest coming up with 10 days before their next match. The team has an open weekend Oct. 14-15, then host Mississippi State for a Wednesday night match at 7 p.m. on Oct. 19. That week wraps up on the road for a single match at LSU on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. ET. Follow @GamecockVolley on Twitter for updates on the team.