Gamecocks Hold off Bulldogs in Five Sets Wednesday Night
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Fresh off a 10-day break from match play, South Carolina volleyball used the extra rest to close out a crucial five-set win at home over Mississippi State (11-8, 4-5 SEC) on Wednesday night. The Gamecocks remain in the middle of a seven-team pack all separated by a game in the overall conference standings, improving to 10-8 overall and 4-4 in the SEC.
1st SET: South Carolina was in the driver’s seat for most of the opening game, using a 4-0 run early to take a 9-7 lead and holding that advantage the rest of the game. The Gamecock’s back line of the defense frustrated the Bulldog offense, using 19 digs to hold the opposition to just a .105 hitting percentage. Jenna Hampton led the defense with eight digs of her own, Riley Whitesides had four digs along with a team-high four kills on the way to a 25-21 final score.
2nd SET: Mississippi State would be its own worst enemy in the second, committing 11 attack errors and finishing with a negative hitting percentage to fall behind big down the stretch in a 25-18 set score. The game was largely competitive, with South Carolina only leading 17-16 before the Bulldogs got a little wild. Of the Gamecocks’ final eight points to close out the set win, five came from unforced attacking errors by State. The Gamecocks needed only 11 kills to get the win, four coming from Lauren McCutcheon.
3rd SET: The Bulldogs made a lineup change in the third and the mix-up paid dividends for the visitors in a 25-22 win. A switch to a two-setter offense gave the visitors a consistent three-hitter lineup at the net and it led to Mississippi State’s best offensive output of the night at 16 kills. A 14-10 lead for South Carolina soon melted away thanks to a 10-4 run from State, the Gamecocks got back to within one at 21-20 but gave up three unanswered points to the Bulldogs to put the set out of reach.
4th SET: Mississippi State followed its best set of offense with its best set of defense in the fourth, picking on South Carolina in serve-receive to get a dominating 25-16 win and even the match at two sets apiece. Along with a pair of aces, the Bulldogs’ aggressive serving strategy put the Gamecocks out of system on offense and helped their defense set up and block a game-high four attacks in the set. South Carolina had only nine kills in the set, paired with eight attacking errors.
5th SET: Looking to salvage the match in their seventh fifth-setter of the season, South Carolina made its move early to grab momentum back from the visiting side. The Gamecocks converted kills on their first four swings and used a 5-1 run early for a 9-4 advantage. The Bulldogs scored the next four points to cut it back to one, but McKenzie Moorman ended the run with a kill to kick off a 4-0 run for South Carolina that all but shut the door. Alayna Johnson clinched the win at 15-12 with her one and only block of the night, it was one of three for the Gamecocks in the set.
UP NEXT: A crucial week wraps up on the road with a single match at LSU on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 2 p.m. ET. The Tigers (10-8, 4-4 SEC) also had a Wednesday night match after a bye week, traveling to Alabama (7-12, 1-6 SEC). Follow @GamecockVolley on Twitter for updates on the team.