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Volleyball Travels to Georgia for Friday Night Matchup
Women's Volleyball  . 

Volleyball Travels to Georgia for Friday Night Matchup

ATHENS, GA. – South Carolina volleyball begins the final stretch of the season on the road Friday night, traveling to Athens to face Georgia (15-11, 6-8 SEC). It will be the team’s lone match of the week, with three games total left on the schedule. First serve Friday will be at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network+. Unquestionably the most hotly contested SEC rivlary for South Carolina over the last decade, the Gamecocks have a 6-4 record against Georgia over the last 10 matchups, with six of those 10 going to five sets. Under Tom Mendoza, the team is 7-3 overall and 2-2 in Athens. In the first meeting this season, back on Oct. 11, South Carolina’s offense hit .333, its best efficiency to date, and freshman Campbell Paris led the way with 18 kills on a .483 hitting percentage.


Volleyball at Georgia

South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina Gamecocks
Georgia Bulldogs
Georgia Bulldogs
Stegeman Coliseum | Athens, GA

Georgia enters Friday on a three-game losing streak, albeit with all three losses coming against top four teams in the conference (Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri). The Bulldogs had been on a hot streak prior, going 5-1 in the SEC after the loss at South Carolina on Oct. 11, highlighted by an eye-opening sweep of No. 8 Arkansas on Nov. 1 that knocked the Razorbacks out of the top spot in the conference.

On offense, Georgia is led by standout senior Sophie Fischer. The dual-threat middle leads the SEC in points per set, averaging 5.22, and ranks fourth in the conference in kills (4.14 per set), second in blocks (1.32) and sixth in service aces (0.40). Fifth-year senior Kacie Evans is close behind, averaging 3.66 kills per set in SEC play. Defensively, the Bulldogs are fifth in the SEC with a .210 opponent hitting percentage and keep opponents off-balance with 1.71 service aces per set, good for second in the SEC, with three different players ranked in the top 10 among SEC athletes for aces per set. As a reference, South Carolina’s leader for aces this season, Riley Whitesides (with 18), would rank fifth on Georgia.


  • Campbell Paris’ 18 kills are the highest by a Gamecock freshman since Riley Whitesides had 19 at LSU on March 13, 2021. Her career-high for kills was matched with a career-best .483 hitting percentage – the third-highest hitting percentage for a Gamecock with 10 or more kills in a match this season.
  • 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 total sets from the team’s two setters – Kimmie Thompson and Claire Wilson – the offense recorded kills on 49 of them (51.6 percent kill rate).The hitting percentage is the highest against a SEC opponent since Oct. 24, 2021 against Alabama, a span of 31 matches.
  • 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).

at Mississippi State (Nov. 8)

  • South Carolina racked up 57 team kills in the three sets, the most for a sweep since Oct. 21, 2011 – also against Mississippi State. That total leads the SEC this season in three-set matches.
  • Fresh off playing in her 100th career game on Sunday against Ole Miss, Whitesides missed the first game of her collegiate career on Wednesday night. Only 22 other Gamecocks since 2001 have reached 100 career games played. The veteran attacker came into the match responsible for a quarter of the team’s total kills through 13 SEC matches.
  • With injuries keeping freshman Sydney Floyd and sophomore Kimmie Thompson out, junior Claire Wilson was the lone setter on the active roster and played all six rotations for a full match for the first time since Oct. 29, 2021, in her freshman season. She did more than just hold her own, finishing with 45 assists, 10 digs, a block and six kills in just the three sets. The 45 assists are the fifth-highest total for a Gamecock in a three-set match since 2001.
  • Wednesday night was the second time this season (out of 15 chances) that the Gamecocks won a match where they were out-blocked.
  • Lauren McCutcheon had one her best nights of her career as a passer, leading the team with a career-high 15 digs in the three sets but also leading the team with 31 serve receptions and just one ace allowed.

vs. LSU (Nov. 12)

  • South Carolina is now 2-4 in five-set matches this season, with all four losses coming against SEC opponents and three of the four coming with the Gamecocks yielding a 2-1 set advantage (at Ole Miss, vs. Auburn, vs. LSU).
  • Kiune Fletcher is the first Gamecock since Juliette Thevenin in 2013 to post 25 or more kills in back-to-back matches. Thevenin did it Sept. 6-7 of 2013; the last Gamecock to do so in SEC play was Shonda Cole in 2006 (Sept. 15-17).
  • Not only were Fletcher’s kill totals impressive this week, but against Mississippi State and LSU she also hit for the fourth and second-highest hitting percentages of the season, respectively, among Gamecocks with 10 or more kills. Thanks to just the two matches, Fletcher raised her season average for kills up from 2.20 to 2.77 and her season hitting percentage up from .211 to .262.
  • As a team, South Carolina finished with 70 kills, the highest single-game total against a SEC opponent since exactly three years ago to the day, a five-set win over Florida on Nov. 12, 2020.
  • With a solo block in the second set, senior Ellie Ruprich broke a tie for first in the program’s rally scoring era for career solo blocks. She surpassed Mikayla Robinson (2017-21) with her 96th solo stuff and finished with three blocks total in the match.
  • Junior Claire Wilson finished a busy week as the team’s lone setter with a career-high 55 assists, giving her exactly 100 assists in the team’s two games this week. Wilson broke a previous career high of 50, done on Oct. 29, 2021 of her freshman year – which was also the last time a Gamecock setter surpassed 50 assists in a match.
  • Sophomore Alayna Johnson matched her season high with 14 kills, coming off a .303 hitting percentage while also adding a career-high 15 digs. She finished with her highest hitting percentage in a match with 10 or more kills this season, despite starting the match with just one kill and two errors in the opening set.
  • Junior Lauren McCutcheon wrapped up a solid week as a two-way player, posting 17 kills and nine digs on Sunday. Combined with her night at Mississippi State on Nov. 8, McCutcheon averaged 3.38 kills and 3.00 digs per set in the two matches, also allowing just two aces in 73 total receptions over the eight sets.
  • LSU out-blocked the Gamecocks 16-7 in the match, most definitively with a 5-0 advantage in set five. It is the second-highest block total for a Gamecock opponent so far this season, and the -9 difference in blocks is tied for the largest gap of the year.
  • Both teams were pushing the limit in the serve game, South Carolina’s 12 service errors tied a season high and LSU’s 17 errors are the second-most by a Gamecock opponent this season. The Tigers ended with a 7-3 advantage in aces behind the line.
  • The injury bug bit the Gamecocks both pre-game and in-game. The team is still missing senior Riley Whiteside, sophomore Kimmie Thompson and freshman Sydney Floyd, but the defense also lost libero Morgan Carter at the end of the second set. Hanna Bissler took over as libero for the remainder of the match and finished with a season-high 12 digs.


  • Kiune Fletcher’s 26 total kills at Mississippi State on Wednesday, Nov. 8 were the second-most in a three-set match in program history, behind only Shonda Cole’s record of 27 set against Georgia on Nov. 15, 2006. The last Gamecock to have 25 or more kills in a match of any length was – ironically – Fletcher’s cousin Mikayla Shields, who had 29 in a five-set win over Missouri exactly six years ago (Nov. 8, 2017).
  • The 26 kills for Fletcher were the most in the NCAA for a three-set match this season. Only four SEC players have more than 26 kills this season in a match of ANY length.
  • After adding 25 more kills in the match against LSU on Nov. 12, Fletcher became the first Gamecock since Juliette Thevenin in 2013 to post 25 or more kills in back-to-back matches. Thevenin did it Sept. 6-7 of 2013; the last Gamecock to do so in SEC play was Shonda Cole in 2006 (Sept. 15-17).
  • Not only were Fletcher’s kill totals impressive this week, but against Mississippi State and LSU she also hit for the fourth and second-highest hitting percentages of the season, respectively, among Gamecocks with 10 or more kills. Thanks to just the two matches, Fletcher raised her season average for kills up from 2.20 to 2.77 and her season hitting percentage up from .211 to .262.
  • The SEC announced its players of the week awards on Monday afternoon, with Kiune earning her first career weekly honor. It is the program’s first Offensive Player of the Week award since Mikayla Robinson on Aug. 30, 2021 and the second weekly honor of the 2023 season.

After leading the team in kills for 2022, junior Lauren McCutcheon found herself battling for playing time with the emergence of sophomore Alayna Johnson and the rock-steady numbers from Riley Whitesides on the left pin. Through the first 20 matches, McCutcheon played in 59 of the 79 total sets and hit .157 with averages of 2.24 kills, 2.05 digs and a .943 serve reception percentage.

She secured a spot back in the lineup to begin November and has re-taken the role with gusto. In the team’s four matches this month, McCutcheon is averaging 3.47 kills and 2.73 digs per set, is hitting .238 and has allowed just three aces in serve receive despite being served to 34 more times than anyone else on the team – 112 times total in four games.

Over the last five matches…

  • The team is 2-3 overall with the offense hitting .235 over 18 sets. Opponents are hitting .259 but the kill totals are nearly identical (237-236, in favor of opponents).
  • Boosted by a week of 51 kills over eight sets against Mississippi State (Nov. 8) and LSU (Nov. 11), Kiune Fletcher leads the offense with a .345 hitting percentage and 64 total kills. The senior right side had hit .100 with just 28 total kills in the five matches prior to the week.
  • Lauren McCutcheon comes in just behind with 53 kills, but her defense has been stellar – the junior is averaging 2.41 digs per set with a .965 serve reception percentage in this span.
  • Blocking numbers have been decisively against South Carolina, with opponents averaging 3.00 blocks per set versus 2.06 for the Gamecocks. Oby Anadi has a hand in more than half of the team’s total blocks, with 19 total and an average of 1.06 per set.
  • Opposing offenses have shied away from libero Morgan Carter, who is averaging just 3.27 digs per set after peaking in September with an average of 4.83 digs per set in nine matches.
  • The team has lost the serve game, allowing 1.83 aces per set in the last five games, a total deficit of 33-15.

With injuries to Sydney Floyd and leaving her as the lone setter on the active roster, junior Claire Wilson stepped up with an incredible week of play to lead the Gamecocks. The Nashville native passed out 100 assists over eight sets against Mississippi State and LSU, posting double-doubles in each of the matches and guiding the offense to two of its top five highest-efficiency matches of the year.

On Wednesday at Mississippi State, Wilson was pressed into the single-setter role for the first time since her freshman year in 2021 and did much more than hold her own, flirting with a triple-double in just three sets with 45 assists, 10 digs and six kills. The 45 assists are the fifth-highest total for a Gamecock in a three-set match since 2001 and third-highest by a SEC setter this season. On Sunday, Wilson set a career high with 55 helpers against LSU. Wilson broke a previous career high of 50, done on Oct. 29, 2021 of her freshman year – which was also the last time a Gamecock setter surpassed 50 assists in a match. Along with the assists, she also added a block, ace and five kills while reaching another double-double behind 10 more digs.

South Carolina has searched for a way to score behind the service line this season and is struggling. The Gamecocks rank 315th out of 322 total teams in the NCAA for aces per set, averaging just 1.14 through 24 games. The average is currently the lowest the team has posted since 2014, when it had 101 total (0.82 per set). Individually, the team’s leader for aces, Riley Whitesides, has just 18 over 83 sets. Over the last decade, the lowest total for the team’s single-season leader is 27, from Lauren McCutcheon in 2021 and Camilla Covas during the COVID-shortened 2020-21 season.

Senior Riley Whitesides had one of the best singular months in her career as a Gamecock, both in production and efficiency, during October. Along with her defensive role as a six-rotation left side, the Greenville native finished with more kills (103), digs (74) and service aces (8) in eight October matches than in any of the previous three seasons of her career. She is also converting at an solid pace, with a .229 hitting percentage despite making 85 more attacks than anyone else on the team. Her previous hitting percentage high for the month was .234 over four matches in the COVID-altered 2020 season, her combined hitting percentage in 2021 and 2022 was under .200.

The highlight of her month came in week five of SEC play, with matches against Alabama and at Auburn. Over the two games, Whitesides went off for 38 kills, 31 digs and a .387 hitting percentage in nine sets.

  • October 2020: 40 kills (.234 Hit%), 2 aces, 38 digs, Four games, 14 sets
  • October 2021: 80 kills (.205 Hit%), 1 ace, 48 digs, Nine games, 33 sets
  • October 2022: 67 kills (.152 Hit%), 6 aces, 54 digs, Seven games, 27 sets
  • October 2023: 103 kills (.229 Hit%), 8 aces, 74 digs, Eight games, 32 sets

Senior Kiune Fletcher ended her junior season with numbers that blew her previous career totals out of the water. November of 2022 was the turning point: in eight matches, Fletcher ranked second on the team in kills (with 65).

Not only has the Trinidad and Tobago native made another jump in 2023, she’s made an entirely different jump in SEC play this fall. The highlight came on Nov. 8, when she hit .476 with a career-high 26 kills on the road at Mississippi State. That single-game total was more than she had in the first 18 games of her career. The Trinidad and Tobago native has 13 career games with 10 or more kills, 10 coming this season alone, with her hitting .385 or better in seven of those matches.

FIRST THREE SEASONS (60 games/169 sets)

  • .164 Hitting Percentage, 204 kills, 57 digs, 79 blocks, 247.0 points
  • 1.20 kills, 0.33 digs, 0.46 blocks and 1.46 points per set

2023 SEASON STATS (22 games/77 sets)

  • .262 Hitting Percentage, 213 kills, 50 digs, 45 blocks, 242.5 points
  • 2.77 kills, 0.65 digs, 0.68 blocks and 3.14 points per set

2023 SEC GAMES ONLY (15 games/54 sets)

  • .291 Hitting Percentage, 166 kills, 31 digs, 34 blocks, 185.0 points
  • 3.07 kills, 0.57 digs, 0.63 blocks and 3.43 points per set

South Carolina’s offense has searched for a go-to attack option on the right-side pin ever since the graduation of all-american Mikayla Shields in 2019. It appears the team has it twofold with the progress of Kiune Fletcher and the emergence of freshman Campbell Paris. Along with Fletcher’s numbers (see above), Paris is averaging 2.20 kills per set in her debut season. The freshman has nine games with 10 or more kills, with a hitting percentage over .300 in six of those nine.

Dating back to Shields’ final season, when she finished with 405 kills as the lone right side, the Gamecocks moved to a two-setter and two-right-side offense and have not had a single right side hitter surpass 250 kills since Shields’ 2019 senior campaign. Currently, Fletcher ranks second on the team with 213 kills and Paris is third with 185.


  • The serve game has been vital. In wins, South Carolina is averaging more aces per set (1.49 to 0.92) while also committing 10 fewer errors. In losses, that ratio is completely flipped, with opponents averaging 1.91 aces per set and the Gamecocks dropping to 0.89. The team is 6-1 when finishing with more aces in a match and just 4-13 when allowing as many or more aces to opponents.
  • Blocking has also been a major factor, with a 8-1 record when out-blocking opponents but 2-13 when they do not. In 13 losses, opponents are averaging 3.00 blocks per set, compared to 1.85 for South Carolina.
  • For hitting efficiency, South Carolina is hitting .245 in wins compared to .180 in losses. The opponent’s splits are even greater, though, with a .165 percentage in Gamecock wins and .276 in Gamecock losses.

Junior middle Oby Anadi entered the 2022 season as a relative unknown, playing in just 34 total sets in her 2021 freshman campaign. She quickly made herself known as a blocker, finishing with 120 total blocks, but still was working her way into the team’s offensive game plan. The 2023 season has proven out that growth, as she approaches career offensive numbers while still leading the team in blocking. Anadi totaled 119 kills over her first two seasons (41 matches), but currently her kill total sits at 127. In the win over Alabama on Oct. 18, she set a new single-season career high with her 101st kill, surpassing 2022’s total of 100 in 11 fewer matches.

With a team-high 15 kills against No. 13 Kentucky on Nov. 3, senior Riley Whitesides surpassed 1,000 career kills. She is just the seventh woman since 2001 to reach 1,000, and only 16 other Gamecocks in the 50-season history of the program have reached the milestone. On Sept. 24, Whitesides also reached 1,000 career points in the team’s match at Missouri, making her the fourth Gamecock in the last decade and ninth overall since 2001 to reach that milestone. In the team’s six games against ranked opponents so far this season, Whitesides is averaging 3.36 kills per set and her 84 total kills are 27 more than anyone else on the team.

A number of Gamecocks have family ties to the sport, past and present.

Freshman setter Sydney Floyd’s mother, Amy Banachowski, played volleyball at UCLA in the early 1990s and her grandfather Andy Banachowski was a two-time all American as an athlete and then coached the Bruins women’s volleyball program from 1965 to 2010. During his tenure, UCLA won six national champinships as a coach, another as a player, and made both the UCLA, AVCA and National Volleyball halls of fame. He retired as the Division I leader for career wins, with 1,106.

Senior Kiune Fletcher is the cousin of Mikayla Shields, South Carolina’s first and only AVCA All-American, who played from 2016-2019.

Junior Claire Wilson’s older sister, Chloe, is currently a senior on the Virginia volleyball team. She started her career with Wake Forest and is a pin hitter with over 70 career matches played.

Sophomore Kimmie Thompson is the youngest in a trio of volleyball players. Her oldest sister, Kaely, played at South Carolina from 2018-20 as a defensive specialist and setter. Her other sister, Kyra, just graduated from College of Charleston, where she played beach volleyball for four seasons and left as the program’s all-time wins leader.

Few venues feature the atmosphere of the Carolina Volleyball Center, and Gamecock fans are out in record-setting numbers this fall. A crowd of 3,293 fans weathered a tropical storm on Aug. 30 against Clemson, the total is the second-highest for a home game in program history, just behind the record of 3,458 (also against Clemson, 8/25/2018). That came after an opening-weekend total of 5,340 fans for the two-game series against Towson. The team saw three of the top five most well-attended matches in program history happen in the span of six days.

The team has more games with 2,000 or more fans this season (5) than in the previous 49 seasons of volleyball at South Carolina combined (3) and six of the top-10 most-attended matches have come through the team’s first eight home games. The Gamecocks currently rank 33rd nationally for total attendance (22,739) and 34th in average attendance (1,749 per game). The team set a single-season home attendance record on Oct. 27 against Arkansas with 722 in attendance to push the season total to 19,230 fans. With four home games to spare, the team surpassed the previous record of 18,797, set during the 2018 season.

In 2022, South Carolina ranked 52nd nationally in average attendance (1,134) and total attendance (15,878), despite having the smallest capacity gym of any team ranked ahead of it. Dating back to 2014, the Gamecock volleyball program is averaging at least 1,000 fans per game every season.

Senior Ellie Ruprich became just the eighth woman in program history to reach 400 career blocks thanks to a five-block night against No. 10 Arkansas on Oct. 27. She is just the third woman in the modern scoring era (since 2001) to reach 400 career blocks, joining Darian Dozier (2012-15) and Mikayla Robinson (2017-21). All five of Ruprich’s blocks were solo stuffs, the most by a Gamecock in a four-set match since Stephanie Pflughaupt against Rice 37 years ago (10/18/1986).

The Beverly Hills, Michigan native is still in the hunt of some rarely contested records. In the rally scoring record book, Ruprich surpassed Mikayla Robinson’s solo block record (now with 96) in the match against LSU on Nov. 12. In the all-time record book, she is tied with currently South Carolina hall of famer Heather Larkin for sixth in program history with 418 total blocks, and is six block assists away from moving past Jennifer Guess (1990-93) for seventh place.

After ranking in the top-25 nationally for blocks last fall, South Carolina is still stout in 2023, currently ranked 4th in the SEC with an average of 2.44 blocks per set. For as good as the Gamecock block has been, however, opponents have been better. Entering the week, South Carolina opponents are also averaging 2.79 blocks per set when facing the Gamecocks, far and away the most in the SEC. South Carolina has been blocked 44 times more than any other conference opponent, and have allowed 10 or more blocks in 15 of its 24 games overall and eight of 15 conference games.

This follows a 2022 season where opponents finished with 2.74 blocks per set, the highest single-season average for an opponent since the rally-scoring era began in 2001, surpassing the 2010 season’s opponent average of 2.45 per set.

The program improved its streak to 14 seasons in a row earning the AVCA’s Team Academic Award, announced on July 13. The Gamecocks have put 10 or more individuals on the SEC’s Fall Academic Honor Roll for seven seasons in a row and placed 21 total members on either the Fall or First-Year Academic Honor Rolls in the 2022-23 school year. This comes despite an ambitious list of majors that spans the world-renowned business school, sports science fields, civil engineering and education.

In Head Coach Tom Mendoza’s tenure with the team…

  • Home is where the heart is. The Gamecocks are 56-25 (.714) at the Carolina VB Center in Mendoza’s six seasons.
  • September is the team’s best month, combining for a 33-16 mark. The highlight came in 2018 with a perfect 9-0 record in September, the first Gamecock squad since 1983 to do so.
  • The team is 72-13 when winning the first set, 17-60 when losing it.
  • In five-set matches, the team holds an 24-14 record. In the three years prior to his arrival, the Gamecocks were just 7-8 in five-setters.
  • The offense finished with a higher hitting percentage than its opponents 86 times and have lost just eight of those matches.
  • Aces have been a key to victory; under Mendoza the Gamecocks are 66-16 when matching or surpassing opponents in aces.
  • If the back line is locked in, the odds swing heavily in South Carolina’s favor; the team has a 47-10 record when finishing with more digs in a match since Mendoza arrived in 2018.


  • South Carolina holds an 876-698 (.559) all-time record, dating back to it’s first season as a varsity sport in 1974. The team’s 800th win came on Aug. 25, 2018 against Clemson.
  • The Gamecocks joined the SEC for volleyball in 1991, and have an all-time conference record of 233-321 (.422) in the 31st season as a member. The 200th SEC win came on Nov. 8, 2019 at Mississippi St.
  • The team has a 17-16 overall record in the opening game of SEC play.
  • In matches in the Carolina Volleyball Center, opened in 1996, Carolina is 246-136 (.648) overall and 127-116 (.525) in SEC matches. The CVC’s 200th win came on Nov. 16, 2018 against Ole Miss.
  • Tom Mendoza was introduced as the program’s 13th head coach on Jan. 3, 2018. This is his eighth season overall as a head coach, with a career record of 136-94 and a record of 89-76 at South Carolina. He has led his teams to the NCAA tournament in five of his eight years as a head coach and is just the fourth coach in South Carolina’s history to reach 75 career wins.