Volleyball Drops Friday Opener to Towson
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina volleyball opened its regular season at home Friday night, losing to Towson in straight sets. The Tigers, a 2022 NCAA tournament team, found their edge on defense with a 12-3 advantage in blocks, helping to hold the Gamecocks to just 34 kills in the match. Freshman Campbell Paris shined in her collegiate debut with 11 kills to lead the offense and classmate Sydney Floyd came two digs shy of a double-double in her first match as a Gamecock (16 assists, eight digs).
1st SET: After wrapping up the 2022 season ranked in the top-five nationally for hitting percentage allowed and top-25 for blocks per set average, Towson showed early why its returning corps of defenders may match those numbers again this fall. The Tigers blocked Carolina five times in the opening game, holding the Gamecocks to a .048 hitting percentage in a 25-21 win. Three Gamecocks had three kills in the set, led by a 3-for-3 effort from Ellie Ruprich, but Towson committed just three errors total on offense to maintain control throughout.
2nd SET: Game two would be the tightest of the night, but Towson pulled away late for a 25-22 win and a 2-0 set lead. Despite a 5-0 block advantage for the visitors, South Carolina held tough and rallied back from a 12-9 deficit to lead 15-14 at the first timeout of the game. The two teams fought through three ties and three lead changes from that point on, with a kill from Kiune Fletcher making the score 22-20 in favor of the Gamecocks late. The Tigers ran off the final five points to flip the scoreboard one last time, culminating with another block to end the set.
3rd SET: The Tiger offense sealed the win in the third set with their most efficient set of the night. Towson hit .324 with 16 kills to take a big lead early and close the match with a 25-18 win. Paris had her best set of the day in the third, putting away five kills in 10 swings to crack double digits. Kiune Fletcher battled back after turning her ankle in the first set and went off for four kills in the third, but a fast start for Towson would be too much to overcome.
- The Carolina faithful came through Friday, with a crowd of 3,216 fans in attendance. The total is the second-highest for a home game in program history, just behind the record of 3,458 against Clemson (8/25/2018).
- All four freshmen saw time for Carolina on Friday, with Paris and Floyd rotating in as the secondary right-side hitter and setter, respectively, Gabrielle Gerry coming off the bench at middle blocker and Elizabeth McElveen subbing in as a serve specialist and back-row defender.
- After a year away from it, junior Morgan Carter returned to the libero position and shined on the back line. She finished with a game-high 14 digs and added three assists and a service ace.
- Senior Riley Whitesides reached 500 career digs in the match, moving to 504 in three-plus seasons at Carolina.
QUOTABLE: TOM MENDOZA
On the performance of his freshmen
“Yeah, I looked out at one point and realized that they were half of our lineup. Obviously congrats to them, it’s a good step to get that one under their belt and learn from it. I think there were lots of things they did that they should be proud of and are going to be successful no matter who we’re playing against.
Similar to everyone else, there’s some stuff that they should feel really proud of and we’re happy for them with what they did, there’s also some stuff that we need to learn from. Credit to them, it’s a great class and they’ve come in and worked their tails off, so it’s great to see them go and get that success.”
The two teams meet again for a rematch tomorrow, Aug. 26. First serve is scheduled for a 2 p.m. in the Carolina Volleyball Center.