Gamecocks Fall in Four Sets at Georgia
ATHENS, GA. – South Carolina volleyball lost in four sets at Georgia (16-11, 7-8 SEC) on Friday night. It was an unusual result where the offense outhit the Bulldogs and the defense recorded twice as many blocks and had more digs, but a major advantage behind the service line swung the advantage to the home side. The Gamecocks (10-15, 4-12 SEC) were led by 17 kills from Lauren McCutcheon in the loss.
1st SET: Serving would be the difference-maker for Georgia in the opener, the Bulldogs dropped in three aces among their first 15 points and finished with a 4-1 advantage in a 25-23 win. It’s serving helped cover for an errant offense for the home side, which more unforced attacking errors (4) than it had errors from South Carolina blocks and hit just .114 in the game. Lauren McCutcheon led all attackers with five kills. Georgia took control of the set with a 4-1 run that broke a 12-all tie and led the rest of the way. The Gamecocks were able to get back to within one, at 24-23, but couldn’t extend the game.
2nd SET: First contact was a prevailing issue to start the second set, with Georgia scoring 12 of the first 15 points to build another lead it would carry the rest of the way in a 25-19 win. The Bulldogs added three more aces, but it was the quality of the first touch that made more of a difference for South Carolina. The Gamecocks were out of system offensively and allowed a 19-6 kill advantage to Georgia, letting the home side off the hook for a set with nine attacking errors compared to one for Carolina.
3rd SET: The Gamecocks came off the mat in a big way to extend the match, hitting .433 as a team in a 25-18 win. The offense was led by the one-two punch of McCutcheon and Oby Anadi, who combined for 11 of the team’s 15 total kills, with McCutcheon finishing with seven to push into double digits for the night. The efficiency was key, as South Carolina committed just two errors while converting half of its 30 attacks into kills and would not trail once. McCutcheon keyed the set-deciding run, recording four kills in the team’s final eight points and all as part of a 7-2 run that turned a 16-14 lead into the team’s largest advantage of the match.
4th SET: South Carolina’s offense remained efficient in the final game, but Georgia responded with its best hitting percentage of the night in a 25-22 win to close the match. The Bulldogs hit .344 with 14 kills, and while the Gamecocks answered with a .360 efficiency, the team could not keep up with Georgia’s scoring behind the line. The home team put down three more aces, compared to zero aces and four errors on serve for South Carolina. An early 6-1 run put Georgia ahead 9-5 and the Gamecocks would trail the rest of the way.
- The team saw senior Riley Whitesides return to the court after missing the previous two matches, albeit in a limited back-row-passer-only role. The team was without freshman setter Sydney Floyd and junior libero Morgan Carter.
- South Carolina finished with a higher hitting percentage (.308 to .231), more digs (45-39) and more blocks (14-7) than Georgia. The Bulldogs countered with a +16 kill and +8 service ace advantage. The Gamecocks were 7-1 when finishing with more blocks and 7-1 when out-hitting opponents coming into Friday night.
- Lauren McCutcheon finished with 17 kills on a .351 hitting percentage. It is the junior’s third game this season with 15 or more kills. She is now averaging 3.63 kills per set in the team’s five November matches.
- Oby Anadi led the team with eight blocks, including her 48th career solo block. That moved the junior up to fourth place in the rally scoring era, past Darian Dozier (2012-2015).
- Senior Ellie Ruprich also climbed the record book for blocks on Friday, her six block assists moved her up to seventh in the program’s overall record book, now with 328, to tie Jennifer Guess (1990-93).
- The team’s first contact limited an otherwise efficient offense; the Gamecocks only took 107 total swings over the four sets, compared to 147 for Georgia. The 107 attacks are the fewest for a four-set match in the rally-scoring era (since 2001).
- South Carolina’s .308 hitting percentage is its second-highest of the season. It marked the first time since 8, 2021 that the team hit over .300 in a loss.
- Georgia’s 12 service aces are the most by a Gamecock opponent since 2021, and marks the fourth time this season with 10 or more aces allowed. The last season with more games allowing double-digit aces was 2004 (6).
Just two more matches remain for South Carolina, sandwiched around the Thanksgiving holiday. First up is the road finale on Wednesday, Nov. 22 at 20th-ranked Florida. It will be a 3 p.m. first serve against the Gators. After the holiday, the Gamecocks host No. 8 Tennessee on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. for the season and home finale.