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Gamecocks Advance to Conference Championship, Fall to No. 4 Florida State in Title Bout
Beach Volleyball  . 

Gamecocks Advance to Conference Championship, Fall to No. 4 Florida State in Title Bout

HUNTSVILLE, ALA. – South Carolina beach volleyball reached new heights for the program on Saturday, reaching the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association’s tournament championship for the first time. The Gamecocks (20-16) made it by taking down No. 10 LSU (25-11) in the semifinal round by a 3-2 score, but South Carolina had a rally run out of steam late in the championship dual. Fourth-ranked Florida State (30-7) claimed its eighth out of the last nine CCSA tournament titles with a 3-0 decision.

In the morning elimination game against LSU, South Carolina took four first sets against the Tigers, highlighted by a marathon opener on court five that would hold heavy implications as the matchup went on. VB Trost and Sophie Bengoechea traded off multiple set points with LSU before ending the set on a 3-0 run. Trost capitalized on strong winds in her face and dropped in service aces at 27-27 and 28-27 to clinch the set at 29-27.

Similar to the team’s game against No. 17 GCU Friday afternoon, the momentum swung away from the Gamecocks in the second sets. LSU claimed the first point of the dual thanks to a sweep on court two, but South Carolina countered with a decisive win on the top court from Skylar Allen and Riley Whitesides. The duo won 21-18, 21-12 to make it 1-1 and put all eyes on the final three courts.

The Tigers forced third sets on courts three and four, each side would take big leads early with LSU starting off with an 8-1 lead on three and Morgan Downs and Peyton Yamagata scoring a 7-3 lead on four. Both matchups would get considerably tighter, though, as the Tigers threatened to win the dual with a 15-12 win on court three for a 2-1 advantage and Downs and Yamagata’s lead was trimmed to one point. Mere seconds apart, the drama would unfold on courts four and five to decide the dual. Downs put away a kill to side out and clinch court four at 21-12, 21-15, 15-13 just seconds before an LSU attack trickled wide off the net tape for a 29-27, 21-15 win for Bengoechea and Trost on court five.

In the championship dual, South Carolina built modest leads on three courts early and Allen and Whitesides took the first set on court one. Florida State grabbed the momentum, though, as it finished out with opening-set wins on courts two through five. The Gamecocks lost a big opportunity on court three in the opening set, falling 23-21 after leading for the majority of the time.

The team wouldn’t slow down after the early adversity, South Carolina came back with leads on courts two, three and five to get the second sets started. Florida State would secure the first point of the dual with a sweep on court four, but the Gamecocks got a lift from Allison Coens and Hannah Mackenhausen winning set two on court two. The Seminoles upped the ante with a 4-0 run to come back and win set two on court five, 21-11, 21-18, to take the 2-0 lead.

Despite their backs going up against the wall, South Carolina kept fighting for the rally. Allen and Whitesides grabbed an early lead in their third set on court one and Coens and Mackenhausen ran out to an 8-4 lead in the third set of their match on two. The Gamecocks needed a third set on court three as well, Jolie Cranford and Julia Waugh claimed the 19-17 lead late but were slowed by an injury timeout. Florida State evened the score at 19, but Waugh put away back-to-back kills to force another third set.

Time would run out on the rally for South Carolina, the Seminoles closed on a 5-1 run on court one to win in three sets, 17-21, 21-11, 15-10 and end the championship with the 3-0 win.

“I am so proud of this team. All 10 of them left everything they had on the sand this weekend, each pair had at least one match where the pressure was squarely on their shoulders and we got to see them shine in those moments. We definitely played our best volleyball at the end of the year, which is always what we always aim for. Even though we came up short in the end, I still think we put an exclamation point on the season. We got to see the level of volleyball we're capable of and learned who we can be as competitors. ”
Head Coach Moritz Moritz


  • Skylar Allen, Riley Whitesides, Sophie Bengoechea and VB Trost made the conference’s all-tournament team for their efforts over the four duals.
  • The Gamecocks made their first CCSA tournament championship appearance in program history. The team’s best finishes prior to Saturday were semifinal losses in 2018 and 2016.
  • The victory over LSU was the ninth win over a top-10-ranked team in program history.
  • South Carolina snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Tigers thanks to Saturday’s win. The last win in the series came on March 1, 2019.
  • Skylar Allen now has 19 career wins against conference opponents, tied for eighth in program history.
  • This is the seventh 20-win season in program history. The 36 total games played is tied with the 2016 campaign for most games in a single season.

South Carolina ends its season with an overall record of 20-16. The Gamecocks graduate five student-athletes from this year’s roster – four of whom started for the team at the tournament this weekend: Skylar Allen, Sophie Bengoechea, Allison Coens, Hannah Mackenhausen and McKenzie Nichols. For continued updates on the team throughout the summer, follow @GamecockBeachVB on Twitter and Instagram.

South Carolina 3, #10 LSU 2

  1. Skylar Allen/Riley Whitesides (SC) def. Gabi Bailey/Ellie Shank (LSU), 21-18, 21-12
  2. Reilly Allred/Parker Bracken (LSU) def. Allison Coens/Hannah Mackenhausen (SC), 21-13, 21-11
  3. Ella Larkin/Aubrey O’Gorman (LSU) def. Jolie Cranford/Julia Waugh (SC), 19-21, 21-15, 15-12
  4. Morgan Downs/Peyton Yamagata (SC) def. Amber Haynes/Skylar Martin (LSU), 21-12, 15-21, 15-13
  5. Sophie Bengoechea/VB Trost (SC) def. Yali Ashush/Emily Meyer (LSU), 29-27, 21-15

Order of Finish: 2,1,3,4,5*
*- Deciding Point

#4 Florida State 3, South Carolina 0

  1. Madelyne Anderson/Alexis Durish (FSU) def. Skylar Allen/Riley Whitesides (SC), 17-21, 21-11, 15-10
  2. Allison Hansen/Anna Long (FSU) VS Allison Coens/Hannah Mackenhausen (SC), 21-16, 18-21, Unfinished
  3. Morgan Chacon/Skyler Germann (FSU) VS Jolie Cranford/Julia Waugh (SC) 23-21, 19-21, Unfinished
  4. Audrey Koenig/Raelyn White (FSU) def. Morgan Downs/Peyton Yamagata (SC) 21-14, 21-13
  5. Caitlin Moon/Kaileigh Truslow (FSU) def. Sophie Bengoechea/VB Trost (SC) 21-11, 21-18

Order of Finish: 4,5,1*
*- Deciding Point