Gamecocks Open Season With Sweep of College of Charleston
CHARLESTON, S.C. – The South Carolina volleyball team faced a tough challenge in its season opener Friday night, taking on the College of Charleston in its first game of a weekend tournament hosted by the Cougars (1-1). Despite the stress of making their collegiate debuts, it would be the freshmen class that lifted the team to a 3-0 sweep (25-22, 25-19, 26-24).
1st Set: The Cougars, fresh off a win earlier in the day, came out swinging in front of an energetic crowd and enjoyed a 16-10 lead out of the gate. Megan Kirkland served tough to spark a 4-0 run and cut into the deficit, and freshman Courtney Koehler helped to complete the comeback after serving the team back from an 18-17 deficit to a 21-18 advantage. Kills from Abreia Epps and Courtney Furlong put a bow on the comeback and helped steal early momentum for the Gamecocks.
2nd Set: The second set was just as contentious in the early going, but South Carolina flexed its muscle at the net on defense to pull away down the stretch. Down 10-9, the team got blocks from Koko Atoa-Williams and Mikayla Shields to flip the scoreboard, and after Charleston tied things back up at 15, a pair of solo blocks from Epps and a combo block from Claire Edwards and Furlong widened the gap back out and the Gamecocks outscored the Cougars 10-4 after the 15-all tie to head into halftime up 2-0.
3rd Set: With South Carolina’s ball control still flux, the net defense carried the team home in the third set. Charleston seemed ready to force a fourth set, holding a 19-17 lead late, but a solo block from Furlong sparked a late rally. Epps and Koehler connected for back-to-back kills after the big block to put South Carolina ahead for good. In an appropriate finish, Jacqy Angermiller put down a solo block to close out the match, the senior’s fifth block of the night and the team’s 15th overall.
STAT OF THE MATCH
South Carolina finished with 15 blocks in the three-set match, holding College of Charleston to just a .085 hitting percentage. The Cougars had just three total blocks on the night and committed 28 attack errors.
The Gamecocks need to rest up, as they face two early matches on Saturday. First up will be Tennessee-Martin, who were swept by Charleston but rallied to beat Binghamton later in the day. That match will begin at 10 a.m. with an afternoon meeting with Binghamton scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Live stats will be available for both contests – live video will not.
- The offense debuted its new two-setter offense, with Courtney Koehler and Aubrey Ezell trading places. Both played admirably, finishing with 12 and 15 assists, respectively. Ezell also added nine digs and a pair of kills.
- Mikayla Shields had a terrific debut, as the freshman led the team with nine kills on 20 swings. .
- Jacqy Angermiller’s three solo blocks are a new career best for the senior. Her previous high was two, against Winthrop last season.
- Joely Cabrera earned the start as the team’s libero and led the way with 11 digs.
QUOTABLE: HEAD COACH SCOTT SWANSON
On the team’s net defense
“Defense was a focus of ours. Our timing was pretty good, at the beginning they were throwing some balls straight down on us that we weren’t ready for and we kind of made an adjustment. We had a really good help block from the pin blockers coming in to help out on their middle. We slowed down their middle attack and we blocked enough balls to force them to make more errors in the tips over the block and into our defense, so that was a huge advantage.”