Volleyball Falls in Five Sets to No. 25 Auburn
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Gamecock volleyball dropped a tight five-set decision against No. 25 Auburn (14-3, 4-2 SEC) on Sunday afternoon, losing a 2-1 set advantage with each of the three lost sets decided by the minimum two points. Four hitters finished with 10 or more kills for South Carolina (6-8, 0-5 SEC), led by 15 from Kiune Fletcher and Riley Whitesides.
1st SET: The two sides opened with a slugfest in set one, both offenses finished hitting well over .400 with 15 kills for Carolina and 16 for Auburn. The Gamecock built up a 12-9 lead early, but Auburn made the key move to secure the set win, scoring a 7-2 run from there to take a lead it would not give back in a 25-23 victory. Riley Whitesides was the key contributor for the home side, recording six kills in just seven swings.
2nd SET: The Gamecocks responded with a 25-22 win in set two, out-gunning Auburn with a 16-9 kill advantage which helped to negate an incredible eight blocks for the visitors. South Carolina’s back-line defense was strong, finishing with 20 digs in the set thanks to five different players recording multiple digs with libero Morgan Carter’s five leading the effort. In a storyline swap from the first set, Auburn gave up a big run to Carolina that turned a 12-9 Tiger lead into a 20-15 advantage for the Gamecocks. Four different hitters had three or more kills in the set, led by four from Alayna Johnson – which included the game winner.
3rd SET: South Carolina pushed out to a 2-1 set advantage with another 25-22 win in the third. Freshman Campbell Paris would be the offensive leader, converting four kills from five total attacks. The Gamecocks got off to a hot start, leading 7-2 early, and held off a late Tiger rally for the win.
4th SET: Auburn got the fast start in the fourth and were able to hang on for another 25-23 win to force a fifth set. The Tigers opened on a 3-0 run with a pair of aces and carried a 15-12 lead into the first break of the game. South Carolina was able to get back in contention late, using kills from Paris and Oby Anadi to tie the score at 20, but Auburn broke away from a 23-all score with the final two points to stay alive.
5th SET: Another run to open set five made the difference in a 15-13 Auburn win to close the match. The Tigers used a 3-0 run to push ahead 6-3, and held at least a two-point lead the rest of the way. Unforced errors plagued the Gamecock comeback attempt, with a pair of service errors and six attack errors lifting a Tiger offense that only had six total kills in the fifth. Johnson led the home side with four kills in the set.
- Setter Kimmie Thompson finished with career-highs of 33 assists and 15 digs, also adding a pair of service aces.
- Freshman Campbell Paris hit .381 with 12 kills, giving her six double-digit kill performances this season and two games with 12 kills with a hitting percentage over .333 in the last three outings.
- The loss snapped South Carolina’s seven-game win streak over the Tigers, all coming under head coach Tom Mendoza.
- Auburn’s 17 total blocks are the most by a Gamecock opponent this season.
- The Gamecocks had entered October having not lost a game when finishing with more kills and/or more digs in a match, but have now lost to Florida and Auburn despite finishing with more kills and more digs.
- Sunday also marked the first time this season that the offense out-hit the opposition in a loss.
- With a crowd of 1,930 fans in attendance, the team now has six sellouts in its seven home games this fall.
It will be a quick turnaround for the team, as Georgia comes to Columbia on Wednesday night for a matchup on ESPNU. Follow @GamecockVolley on Twitter/X and @GamecockVB on Instagram for continued updates on the team throughout the season.