Gamecock Offense Lifts Team to Win Over Georgia
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Gamecock volleyball snapped its losing streak with a commanding performance Wednesday night against Georgia (10-7, 1-4 SEC), taking down the Bulldogs in four sets. Freshman Campbell Paris led the team with a career-high 18 kills, senior Kiune Fletcher added 13 and both would hit well over .400 to push the team’s record to 7-8 for the season and 1-5 in conference play.
1st SET: Paris was locked in from the start, recording the team’s first kill of the game on the way to eight total in the set. The Gamecocks hit .342 with 19 total kills in the 25-22 win, the 19 kills are the most for a single set so far this season. Despite the eye-catching offensive numbers, it was Georgia that controlled the first half of the set, carrying a 15-10 lead into the first timeout. A pair of kills from Fletcher sparked a 6-1 run to tie the score up at 16, but Georgia pushed back ahead and was first to 20, leading 20-19. Paris almost single-handedly answered the Bulldogs from that point on, though, putting away three kills in a 4-1 run that gave her team the lead for good.
2nd SET: Georgia evened up the match with a 25-20 win in set two, dominating the service line to cool off the South Carolina offense. Combining three Bulldog service aces with three service errors by the Gamecocks, Georgia opened on an 8-2 run and never looked back. South Carolina’s attackers remained efficient, committing only four attack errors, but weren’t able to run its tempo and ended with just 11 kills on 29 swings. Paris and Fletcher combined for six of those kills, coming on 12 attacks.
3rd SET: South Carolina shored up its passing and found its mojo again in the third, pulling away late for a 25-18 win and a 2-1 set lead. The Gamecocks hit .481 with 17 kills, with four different hitters chipping in three kills or more. Out of an 8-all tie, South Carolina scored seven of the next 10 points to build a lead it would not give back. Junior setter Claire Wilson pitched in a pair of service aces in the set to help the home side meet the Georgia serving game head-on, also adding eight assists and two digs in the set.
4th SET: After seeing the offense grab the headlines in the first three sets, South Carolina’s defense came through with its best performance of the night to seal the win with a 25-16 score in the fourth. Georgia finished with more attacking errors (11) than kills (8), thanks in large part to five blocks for South Carolina. Ellie Ruprich recorded a pair of solo blocks and Oby Anadi had a hand in the other three blocks (two assists, one solo). The offense needed just nine kills total, Paris had three of them to push her total to 18. The freshman’s final kill would be the game-winner.
- Paris’ kill total was the highest by a Gamecock freshman since Riley Whitesides had 19 at LSU on March 13, 2021. She now has 12 or more kills with a hitting percentage over .333 in three of the last four matches. Her career-high for kills was matched with a career-best .483 hitting percentage – the second-highest hitting percentage for a Gamecock with 10 or more kills in a match this season.
- With 13 more kills Wednesday night, senior Kiune Fletcher now has 62 kills in the last four matches. Her efficiency has been even more impressive, though, as her hitting percentage over that same four-game stretch is .341. She has more kills in the last 18 sets than she had in the first 36 games of her career.
- South Carolina’s offense hit .333 in the win, the best efficiency of the season and highest since Sept. 10, 2022 (vs. Cincinnati). In the 95 sets from the team’s two setters – Kimmie Thompson and Claire Wilson – the offense recorded kills on 49 of them (51.6 percent).
- 2,178 more fans were in attendance for the win, giving the team seven sellouts in its eight home games this fall. Of the top 10 crowds in program history, six have come this season, with Wednesday night’s crowd the fifth-most.
- The team’s middle-blocker duo of Oby Anadi and Ellie Ruprich were the unsung heroes of the win, combining for 13 kills and zero errors on offense and had a hand in all 12 of the team’s total blocks in the match. In the final two sets alone, the pair combined for seven kills and eight blocks.
- Anadi finished seven seven blocks, included two solo stops. The junior now has 41 career solo blocks, moving her into a tie with Shonda Cole (2003-06) for seventh-most in the rally scoring era (since 2001).
QUOTABLE: TOM MENDOZA
On the team’s all-around performance
“We were able to put a pretty complete match together, with the exception of two runs in the second set, I liked the way we played. After two sets, even though it was 1-1, we were winning every statistical category so it just felt like if we kept doing those things, eventually the score would represent that.
Really proud of our players for sticking with it, I’ve said the whole time that this is the team that I think has the most room for growth throughout the season. But you have to go and do it and you have to come back from some tough losses and keep working … I’m happy for them tonight that they were able to get that reward and beat a good team. We feel like when we’re capable of playing at our level, we can beat anybody.”
The Gamecocks hit the road for their next matchup, heading west for a Sunday game at Texas A&M (12-4, 4-2 SEC). South Carolina aims to snap a six-game losing streak to the Aggies. Since the start of the series, the Gamecocks are 1-7 in games at College Station, with the lone road win coming in 2018, Tom Mendoza’s first season as head coach.