Volleyball Drops Road Finale in Four Sets at Florida
GAINESVILLE, FLA. – South Carolina volleyball dropped its final road match of the fall on Wednesday afternoon, losing in four sets at No. 20 Florida (18-8, 10-7 SEC). The Gamecocks fall back to 10-16 overall for the season, 4-13 in SEC play.
1st SET: Florida pounced early, coming up with 11 kills on its first 16 swings to build a 14-6 lead and force two quick timeouts from the Gamecocks. South Carolina finished with six kills for the set, slowed by four blocks and 20 digs from the Gator defense. The home side hit .343 with 17 kills in comparison and took the opener, 25-16. Kiune Fletcher accounted for half of Carolina’s kills, and Campbell Paris returned to the court after sitting most of the last three matches and contributed a pair of kills and a block.
2nd SET: The Gators seized control on defense early in set two, scoring six of their first 12 points on either blocks (4) or service aces (2). South Carolina was unable to take advantage of an off-game for Florida’s offense, as the Gamecocks finished with an advantage in kills (11-10) but were tripped up by four service errors, a 5-1 advantage in blocks and four aces for the Gators in a 25-20 loss.
3rd SET: The Gamecocks had their chance at a fast start in the must-win third, putting down six kills in their first 10 swings. Of those six kills, five different Gamecock contributed one and five came in a 7-1 stretch that broke the game open and took the Carolina lead from 5-4 to 12-5. Florida started to chip away from there, responding with a 5-1 run from there ultimately tying the score up at 15.
The Gamecocks wouldn’t wilt, though, as the two sides traded points down the stretch. There would be ties at points 15 through 21, but the Gamecocks finally broke through after a kill for Kiune Fletcher and attack error by the Gators for the first multi-point lead for either side since a 15-13 score for Carolina. Florida was able to side out to make it a 23-23 score, but Oby Anadi’s fifth kill of the afternoon set up set point and Hanna Bissler converted the first set opportunity with a service ace to make it 25-22.
4th SET: A determined home side scored seven of the first 10 points of the fourth, Florida clamped back down on the Gamecock attackers with three blocks among its first 12 points after Carolina hit .368 with 18 kills in the third. South Carolina was able to stage a modest rally to cut the deficit back to one at 10-9, but Florida made the decisive push with an 8-3 run from there to take a six-point lead. The Gamecocks would get no closer than four points from there as Florida clinched the win with a 25-17 win.
- The Gamecocks had not won a set at Florida since Oct. 8, 2000, spanning 20 matches and before anyone on the active roster was born. The Gators are 33-2 at home in the all-time series, dating back to 1984.
- With her third block of the match, coming in set two, senior Ellie Ruprich moved into fifth place in the program’s all-time record book with 427 total blocks.
- The team lost freshman Campbell Paris to injury late in the second set, but got a strong performance from substitute right side hitter Tireh Smith. The redshirt freshman finished with new career highs for kills (5) and total attacks (x).
- Kiune Fletcher led the team with 11 total kills, her fourth game in a row and 12th game overall this season with 10 or more kills.
- Alayna Johnson finished with her third game in a row with a hitting percentage north of .300. The sophomore pin finished with nine kills at a .364 percentage, also adding a pair of digs.
- Oby Anadi’s seven kills are the most for a Gamecock middle since Oct. 11 against Georgia, a span of 10 games. The junior finished with a .353 hitting percentage.
- Florida finished with a 15-7 advantage in blocks, the fifth time this season that a Gamecock opponent had 15 or more. All five instances have come in the last 12 games.
After the Thanksgiving holiday, the Gamecocks host No. 8 Tennessee on Saturday, Nov. 25 at 1 p.m. for the season finale. Attendance will be free for fans, the match will be broadcast on the SEC Network+.