Gamecocks Take Down Navy in Three Sets
FAIRFAX, Va. – South Carolina (7-0) used a team approach to get past Navy (1-5) in three sets, 25-20, 25-21, 25-14, on Sunday morning on the final day of The Mason Inn Patriot Invitational.
In total, 15 Gamecocks made an appearance in the match, 12 of which recorded a kill. Junior libero Paige Wheeler posted 14 digs to lead all players and added two aces, and she did that in two sets of work. Freshman outside hitter Maddie Frome tallied seven kills to lead South Carolina, while three Gamecocks all had two blocks.
Navy’s Carolyn Ewert and Erin Fortner compiled five kills apiece, while Christy Rapp and Star Steele had six digs each. Mallory Shelton had three aces for the Mids.
The Gamecocks used a steady approach in the first set, only three times allowing the Mids to post consecutive points. Senior outside hitter Christina Glover stood as one of four Gamecocks with two kills in the set, and her second closed out the frame at 25-20. Wheeler posted nine of her digs in the first frame.
South Carolina rode Frome and junior middle blocker Megan Kent to a 25-21 set-two win. Kent had four kills on seven swings, while Frome added five kills, five digs and a solo block in the frame. South Carolina’s defense suppressed Navy to a .000 hitting percentage, helped by Frome’s back-row work and junior Lindsey Craft’s six digs.
The balanced approach continued in the third set for the Gamecocks, taking the frame 25-14. Six different Gamecock had two or more kills, with freshman middle blocker Elizabeth Johnbull putting away three on three swings to lead the charge. A five-point stand on Wheeler’s serve broke open the set, making it 9-5. Glover finished it out with strong serving, as Frome ended the contest with her seventh kill. Navy hit .040 in the final frame.
The Mids won the aces battle 5-3, but the Gamecocks took the rest, including a 7-1 win in blocks.
Gamecock Offense Clicks in Four-Set Win Over Niagara
FAIRFAX, Va. – Behind a strong offensive performance guided by senior setter Taylor Bruns, South Carolina (8-0) kept its record perfect with a four-set triumph over Niagara (3-3), 15-25, 25-9, 25-17, 25-8, on Sunday afternoon in The Mason Inn Patriot Invitational.
South Carolina tallied a .370 hitting percentage, with Bruns making 39 assists in the contest to go with seven kills without an error, two aces and eight digs. Redshirt sophomore middle blocker Cara Howley hit .526 with 11 kills, and junior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin compiled a double-double with 14 kills and 12 digs. She also led the team with three blocks, two of those solo. Freshmen Jenna Allen and Darian Dozier added eight kills each, with Allen also posting 12 digs. Junior libero Paige Wheeler added 14 digs.
The Purple Eagles’ Allison Reis tallied 20 digs, while Kari Honomichi posted 18 kills.
A close first set turned Niagara’s way thanks to a seven-point stand, getting the Purple Eagles to set point at 24-13. The Gamecocks got two points back, but Honomichi ended the frame with her ninth kill of the set to hand the Purple Eagles the 25-15 win. Reis had eight digs in the frame, while Niagara hit .469.
The Gamecock defense took over in the second set, holding the Purple Eagles to a .033 mark in a 25-9 rout. South Carolina hit .667 with only one attacking error in the decisive victory, getting at least three kills from all six eligible attackers in the frame. Howley had four, while Thévenin added five digs to go with her three kills in the frame.
The Gamecocks used a four-point skein on Bruns’s serve to break open the close third set for a 25-17 win. At 16-14 in favor of South Carolina, Bruns posted a kill to start the stretch. A solo block and kill by Thévenin made it 20-14. A Niagara ball handling error ended the frame. Thévenin had five kills to go with her solo stuff in the third.
South Carolina cranked up the defense again in the fourth set, holding Niagara to a -.059 hitting percentage to cruise to the 25-8 fourth-set win. The Gamecocks hit .500 in the set, with middle blockers Dozier and Howley getting five kills combined. Dozier also had both of her block assists in the match-clinching set.
Niagara posted one more ace than South Carolina, but the Gamecocks won the blocks, 7-4, and kills, 58-38. The 8-0 record for South Carolina is the first time since 1984 the team has started a year with a winning streak of eight or more. That 1984 team went 9-0 to start, 28-8 overall, and the team earned the first NCAA Tournament bid in program history.