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    SEC Volleyball Today: September 14

    volleyBALL RESULTS
    South Carolina 3, Georgia 0
    Auburn 3, Mississippi State 0
    Alabama 3, LSU 0
    Texas A&M 3, Ole Miss 0
    Florida 3, Arkansas 2

    South Carolina Moves to 12-0 With SEC Opening Sweep of Georgia
                    
    COLUMBIA, S.C. – Behind junior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin’s 18 kills, South Carolina (12-0, 1-0 SEC) matched the best start in school history with a sweep of Georgia (6-4, 0-1 SEC), 26-24, 25-18, 25-19, in front of 1,030 fans at the Volleyball Competition Facility on Friday night.

    Thévenin had no errors in the final two sets, hitting .333 on the match. Redshirt sophomore Cara Howley posted 11 kills on a .500 hitting percentage and tied for match-best honors with three blocks. Senior setter Taylor Bruns had 35 assists, seven digs and three blocks. Bruns, Howley and Thévenin all had two aces. Sophomore outside hitter Bethanie Thomas had eight kills without an error. Junior libero Paige Wheeler had 13 digs, while senior Christina Glover added 10.

    Briana Bahr had 12 kills without an error for Georgia, six of those coming in the final set. Brittany Northcutt added 11 kills, while Allison Summers had 13 digs.

    South Carolina made a late surge to take the first set, 26-24. Georgia had a 22-16 advantage thanks to a five-point run that included two Gamecock attacking errors. But the Gamecocks put together a three-point run to force the Bulldogs to use their first timeout. A Northcutt kill stopped that run at 23-19, but South Carolina took five straight to get to set point first, the first two thanks to Thévenin on a kill and block assist. The Bulldogs got a block to stave off the first set point, but a service error gave the Gamecocks a second chance. This time, South Carolina had the block, from redshirt freshman Christina Vereb and Howley, to end the frame at 26-24. Thévenin and Howley combined for eight kills in the first set, while Wheeler had seven digs and Glover five.

    The Gamecocks hit .393 in the second set to run to a 25-18 win. South Carolina took control with a 9-1 run that concluded with a block assist and kill from Howley. Georgia got within five but no closer, as Howley finished the frame with her second kill, thanks in part to a great fake by Bruns to give her an open net. Thévenin had five kills and Thomas four, and neither had an error.

    A 10-3 start gave South Carolina a large lead, but Georgia would cut it to one at 19-18. The Gamecocks responded by taking six of the last seven points to clinch the match with a 25-19 set-three win. The early run came in part on four aces, two from Bruns and one each from Thévenin and Howley. The Bulldogs climbed back in the match with an 8-1 skein, with Tirah Le’au landing two kills in the stretch. South Carolina had two kills from Thévenin in the last stretch, while Thomas and Howley both had kills as well. Wheeler ended it with an ace at 25-19. Thévenin, Howley and Thomas had all but one of the Gamecocks’ kills in the final set, none with an error, helping the Gamecocks hit .412 in the frame.

    South Carolina won every stat category except for digs, where the two teams tied with 38. The Gamecocks matched a season high with seven aces.

    The Gamecocks host defending SEC Western Division champ LSU on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. Fans with a UAB football game ticket stub can gain admittance to the VCF for $1.
     



    Auburn Sweeps Mississippi Stae to Open SEC Play
     
    STARKVILLE, Miss. – Senior Sarah Bullock had 10 kills and matched a career-high with 21 digs, leading the Auburn volleyball team to a 3-0 win (25-20, 25-16, 25-19) over Mississippi State Friday night at the Newell-Grissom Building.
     
    The Tigers (10-1, 1-0 SEC) continue one of the best starts to a season in school history, winning 10 of their opening 11 games for the first time in program history. Auburn got a measure of revenge over MSU (4-6, 0-1 SEC) after the Bulldogs won both meetings between the teams a year ago.
     
    “I’m really happy to get our first SEC win for the year,” Auburn Head Coach Rick Nold said. “This was a great defensive match. They came in leading the league in digs, but we did a good job playing within our system, competing on the long rallies. I think the other key was probably serve and serve-receive. They were serving tough, and I thought our passers did a good job controlling the situation.”
     
    Bullock picked up her third double-double of the season and inched closer to the career 1,000-dig plateau. With 21 tonight, she now has 972 for her career, just 28 shy of the four-digit mark. It was Bullock’s third match with 20+ digs in her career; her previous match with 21 digs came in her freshman year at Arkansas.
     
    “I thought Sarah did a great job controlling the back line,” Nold said. “Offensively, they did a good job on her early, but she figured out how they were defending her and she got a good run going later in the match.”
     
    Junior Camila Jersonsky had nine kills – seven in the first set alone – and six blocks, and junior Sarah Wroblicky matched Bullock for the team-high in digs with 21. Katherine Culwell added eight kills, seven digs and five blocks, and Kathia Rud had five kills and a pair of blocks. Freshman Ciara Richards led Auburn with 19 assists, and Chelsea Wintzinger had 17 assists and seven digs.
     
    Auburn hit an even .200 as a team and held Mississippi State to .089, the first team Auburn has held below the .100 mark this season. The Tigers had 41 kills to MSU’s 32 and out-dug the SEC’s leader in digs 64-61. Auburn also controlled the play at the net, recording 11 team blocks to MSU’s five.
     
    The Tigers got seven kills from Jersonsky – only one less than MSU had as a team – to win the first set, 25-20. Despite some stingy defense from State, Auburn controlled the early part of the first set and jumped out to a 13-8 lead while getting kills from seven different players and benefitting from five MSU errors. After a 3-0 run by the Bulldogs cut the lead to just two points, the Tigers answered with a 3-0 run of their own, getting two kills from Jersonsky and an ace from MacKenzy Harper to make it 17-12. State would not go quietly, getting back to within two points once again, but a block from Rowand and McDonald, plus two more MSU errors, got the lead back to five points. Jersonsky would get kills on her final two swings of the set to put it away.
     
    The Tigers controlled the second set from start to finish, taking a 25-16 win. Auburn jumped out to a 9-4 lead courtesy of two blocks and a kill from Jersonsky, along with a block and an ace from Bullock. Rud, getting her first extended playing time of the season, helped the Tigers extend that lead to 18-8 with two kills and two block assists. The Tigers had 13 kills in the set and out-hit MSU .281 to .056, getting six total blocks in the frame.
     
    Auburn again jumped to an early lead at 10-6, but the Bulldogs, with strong play from their left side and a fortunate roll off the net on a service ace, went on a 5-0 run to take an 11-10 lead. The Tigers, though, answered quickly with a 3-1 run to go back ahead 14-12 and force an MSU timeout. Auburn would never trail again, increasing the lead to 20-15 after a pair of State errors, and Bullock would put the match away herself with two kills and a solo block to secure the victory with a 25-19 third-set win.
     
    The Tigers will travel to College Station, Texas, tonight in preparation for Sunday’s match at Texas A&M. The first meeting between the two schools as conference foes is set for a 1 p.m. first serve, and fans can follow the action via live video and live stats (AggieAthletics.com) or by following @AUVolleyball on Twitter.
     



    Alabama Volleyball Opens SEC Play with Dominating Win Over LSU
     
    Tuscaloosa, Ala. – In front of a record breaking crowd of 1,670 fans at Foster Auditorium, the Alabama volleyball team defeated the LSU Tigers, 3-0 (25-12, 25-22, 25-16) on Friday night to open Southeastern Conference play for both schools. With the win, Alabama extended its winning streak to 11 straight matches and improved to 12-1 overall and 1-0 is SEC play. The Tigers fall to 4-6 overall and 0-1 in conference play.
     
    “First of all there were no major breakdowns in any facet of our play tonight,” head coach Ed Allen said. “A couple times we gave up three of four points, but no major runs. It was a complete game, probably our best match of the year, in terms of effort and execution.”
     
    The Crimson Tide opened conference play with a stellar performance that snapped an 11-match losing streak to the Tigers. The last victory in the series for Alabama came during the 2006 season. For senior outside hitter Kayla Fitterer is was her first win over LSU in seven tries, as she paced all players in the match with 19 kills, while posting a .436 hitting percentage. Fitterer’s season-high 19 kills came on 39 attempts.
     
    As a team, Alabama dominated the match from beginning to end, as the Tide outhit the Tigers .284 to .080. UA tallied nine blocks and forced LSU into 20 hitting errors. Additionally, the Tide continued to serve well, posting six aces, as Kryssi Daniels added two to her SEC leading total, which stands at 25 for the year, and Cristina Arenas had three aces to go along with a match-high 13 digs.
     
    “Our passing was adequate, our serving was on par with what we’ve done all year and that had an impact on what they were trying to run,” Allen said. “They have one of the finest middles in the conference and she couldn’t get on track because they couldn’t pass the ball well enough to get it to her. We blocked as well as we have all year.”
     
    In addition to Fitterer, Andrea McQuaid and Laura Steiner added nine kills each and Sierra Wilson and Leigh Moyer added three each to account for all 43 kills by the Tide. Wilson also had 35 of Alabama’s 42 assists and added seven digs and three assisted blocks. Moyer tallied five total blocks and Katherine White had three total blocks, including two solos.
     
    “Foster is an incredible place to play and the Alabama fans are the finest in the country. This is an extremely rough environment for a team to come into, and when we execute like we did tonight, they have an opportunity to play a huge role in our win.”
     
    After LSU opened the match with a 4-1 lead in the first set then led 8-5, before Arenas served Alabama to a 12-0 run to open a commanding 17-8 lead. From there UA cruised to a 25-12 first-set win. The Tide posted a .310 hitting percentage in the opening set, while holding the Tigers to -.125 to start the night.
     
    The second set was tightly contested throughout, as no team led by more than two points until the Tide had three three-point leads late in the set. With the score 22-21 in favor of the Tide, UA got kills by Fitterer and Steiner to help put the set away, 25-22, taking a 2-0 lead in the match.
     
    In the third set, Alabama jumped out to a 5-0 lead and never looked back. LSU got within two points at 12-10. Then, with the Tide leading 17-12, Kelsey Melito came off the bench to serve the Tide to a 22-12 lead, putting the set out of reach. With the record crowd standing and cheering on the Tide, Steiner finished the night with a kill and a 25-16 victory in the third set.
     
    Alabama returns to action on Sunday when it hosts No. 17 Tennessee at 1:30 p.m., from Foster Auditorium.
     




    A&M Gets Historic 3-0 Victory Over Ole Miss in SEC Debut
     
    COLLEGE STATION, Texas – In its first-ever league match as a member of the Southeastern Conference, the Texas A&M volleyball team swept Ole Miss, 25-21, 25-23, 25-16, tonight at Reed Arena to notch the school’s first SEC victory in any sport.
     
    “I didn’t know how the team was going to come out and handle the hoopla and importance of the first SEC match in the history of Texas A&M University for volleyball,” A&M coach Laurie Corbelli said. “We were antsy. We were just being human. We were just excited, had a lot of adrenaline, and knew that we needed to spend some time just working to calm down and get into our rhythm. They want to please and not disappoint, so they put a lot of pressure on themselves. Once they took a lot of deep breaths and started to calm down, I thought our game really started to resemble how we’ve been performing.”
     
    A&M senior opposite Alisia Kastmo led all players with 15 kills while hitting at a .444 clip and also completed a double-double with a team-high 10 kills. Aggie senior outside hitter Tori Mellinger finished with 13 kills, including the one that clinched the historic win and gave the Aggies their eighth consecutive victory.
     
    Ole Miss (6-4) scored the first point of the match with a block, but A&M junior setter Allie Sawatzky countered with a kill for the Aggies’ first point. A&M went on to take a 3-1 lead before the over-excitement and adrenaline began to affect the Aggies’ play as they made consecutive errors and allowed the Rebels to score six unanswered points to build a 7-3 lead.
     
    A&M (9-1) later trailed, 10-6, when senior middle blocker Stephanie Minnerly posted one of her four kills in the set, which began a 4-0 run for the Aggies. With the score knotted at 10-10, Ole Miss got a kill, but Kastmo countered with a kill to tie the score for the final time. A&M senior middle blocker Lindsey Miller then came through with a kill to give the Aggies the lead for good.
     
    The Maroon and White continued to string together runs of points throughout the remainder of the frame and built its largest lead at 22-14 following a Minnerly kill courtesy of an Ole Miss overpass. Minnerly later put the Aggies at set point, 24-17, with an off-speed shot, but Ole Miss was able to fight off four points before Kastmo put down a kill to close out the set.
     
    There were 10 ties in the second set before Kastmo gave the Aggies the lead for good at 18-17 with one of her seven kills in the stanza. A&M held a 22-19 lead following a kill by Minnerly, but Ole Miss cut the margin to 22-21 on a kill and an A&M attack error, forcing Corbelli to call a timeout.
     
    Kastmo got a kill coming out of the timeout to keep the score in A&M’s favor. The Tyler, Texas, native continued to keep the Aggies in the lead, scoring each of A&M’s final three points with kills as the teams traded points for the remainder of the set.
     
    Two A&M attack errors to start the third set gave Ole Miss its only lead before Mellinger and Company took control. Mellinger, who had seven kills and hit .462 in the frame, led the Aggies on an 8-1 run to build a 9-2 lead. The Rebels, who were outhit, .382 to .128 in the set, later got within 12-9 but could get no closer as A&M reeled off five unanswered points to go up, 17-9.
     
    Ole Miss, which falls to 0-6 all-time against the Aggies, never got closer than six points and trialed 22-15 when a Sawatzky kill and a block by Minnerly and Kastmo put A&M serving for the match. Wells staved off one match point with her eighth kill overall before Mellinger secured the victory with a kill.
     
    Kara Morgan led Ole Miss with 12 kills and Ashley Veach and Amanda Philpot tied for match-high honors with 12 digs each.
     
    A&M outhit Ole Miss, .310 to .202, for the match as the Aggies posted their sixth straight sweep and extended their consecutive sets won to 13.
     
    The Aggies return to Reed Arena on Sunday to take on Auburn. First serve against the Tigers is at 1 p.m. It will be “Aggie Ring Day” and anyone wearing an Aggie Ring will receive a free ticket at the ticket window at Reed.
     




    Balanced Attack Leads No. 13 Florida Volleyball Past Arkansas, 3-2

    FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - All five Florida hitters were in the double digits on Friday evening, as the No. 13 University of Florida volleyball team battled back from a first set defeat to overtake Arkansas in five, 3-2 (23-25, 25-22, 25-22, 19-25, 15-13), in front of a raucous record crowd of 3,015 at Barnhill Arena.

    "Winning in Barnhill against a veteran Arkansas team was huge for us," Florida head coach Mary Wise said. "For us to grind it out, I just can't say enough about our players' work ethic."

    Three Gators led the way in kills, as junior Chloe Mann (Gainesville, Fla.), freshman Živa Recek (Kočevje, Slovenia) and senior Tangerine Wiggs (Seattle, Wash.) each tallied 13 kills, with Wiggs producing a match-high .500 offensive clip to lead all hitters.

    Senior Betsy Smith (Atlanta, Ga.) had her best match of the year with a career-high 12 kills, as she worked the slide play to her advantage. Freshman Gabby Mallette (Orange Park, Fla.) tallied a career-high 10 kills on the night to go along with three stuff blocks.

    Defensively, sophomore libero Taylor Unroe (Muncie, Ind.) scooped a career-high 24 digs, while Recek added a career-high 15. At the net, Mann stuffed five blocks against the Razorbacks, while Mallette, Smith and Wiggs registered three each. Junior setter Taylor Brauneis (Crystal Lake, Ill.) dished out a season-best 53 assists and added a season-high five kills.

    Friday night was the first time since November 24, 2007 where five Gators were in double-digit kills and the first time in a victory since a 3-1 rout of Utah on August 26, 2006.

    The Gator block got things going early, as Mallette and Mann teamed up for a stuff and Mann immediately followed with a solo block of her own, going up 2-0 on the Razorbacks. Arkansas didn't let down though and the teams tied things up twice before Arkansas took the lead, 7-6, off a Florida blocking error to spark a 4-0 run for the Razorbacks. The Gators slowly chipped away at the Arkansas lead and cut it to two off an Arkansas hitting error to force a Razorback timeout with UF down, 14-12.

    Arkansas went on a 3-0 run out of the timeout, jumping ahead with Florida down 17-13, but the Gators put together a run of their own behind the serve of Unroe to close the gap to just one, 17-16. The Razorbacks surged out of the timeout, going on a 3-0 run to pull ahead, 20-16, and force a Florida timeout. The Gators came out of the break inspired, going on a 5-0 run behind the serve of Recek to tie things up at 21. Mallette and Smith teamed up for the block at 22-22 and an Arkansas ball handling error tied the set at 23-23. Kills by Fortado and Norton edged the set the Razorbacks' way, 25-23.

    The teams traded ties and the lead early and often, but Arkansas took a two-point lead off a Torres kill to go ahead 14-12. Both sides continued to battle and Florida edged within one, down 16-15, with a stuff block by Mann and Wiggs. Out of the timeout, Wiggs slammed a kill through the middle to tie the set at 16. Both teams sided out but Mann slammed two kills to edge Florida ahead, 19-18. Arkansas continued to battle and tied things up at 20. Smith registered a kill off the slide to force a Razorback timeout with the Gators leading 22-21 and Mallette slammed one of her own to go ahead, 23-21. Back-to-back Razorback errors

    Arkansas jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the third set and held the three-point advantage throughout the opening points of the third stanza. The Gators pulled tied things up off an Arkansas hitting error at 11-all. The teams continued to battle and back-to-back Recek kills forced a Razorback timeout with the Gators ahead, 15-14. Recek nailed one down the line to put Florida ahead, 17-16, and Smith blocked the attempted dump kill by Santos to force another Arkansas timeout at 18-16.

    Florida burned a timeout as the Razorbacks tied things up at 20 off a kill by Norton. Back-to-back kills by Mann put the Gators back ahead at 22-20 and a Wiggs kill extended the advantage, 23-20. Mann set up set point at 24-21 with a quick set smash out of the middle. Recek sealed the set for the Orange and Blue with a kill, 25-22.

    The teams kept it tight early but an ace by Smith and an ensuing hitting error by Arkansas forced a Razorback timeout with the Gators leading, 9-7. Arkansas surged back and went on a 6-0 run to go ahead, 15-9. Mann registered back-to-back kills to cut the lead to four, Florida down 15-11. The momentum continued on the Razorbacks' side of the net and they forced a Florida timeout with the Gators down, 19-13. Recek slammed a kill through the seam of the Arkansas block to try and spark the Gators, down 22-15. An Acosta kill set up set point at 24-15 but the Gators saved four set points behind the serve of senior Sundai Weston (Naples, Fla.) but a kill by Torres gave Arkansas the set, 25-19.

    The Florida block didn't let the Gators down to start the fifth, as Mann and Wiggs roofed Norton to start the set. The Razorbacks took timeout as the Orange and Blue went up 3-0 off a transition kill from Recek. Mann nailed a kill off the quick set from Brauneis to go ahead, 4-1. The Gators continued to surge, as Brauneis dumped a kill to lead at the changeover, 8-6. Mallette slammed a kill from Monserez to lead 9-6.

    An Arkansas hitting error forced the Razorbacks to burn their final timeout as the Gators led, 11-7. Brauneis served up an ace at 12-7 but Arkansas inched within three with Florida leading 12-9. Wiggs had a smart swing out-of-system to put Florida within two of the match, 13-9. Arkansas went on a mini run to pull within two, 13-11. A Florida misfire put the Razorbacks within one, 13-12 but Mann killed the overpass to set up match point at 14-12. A Wiggs kill sealed the match for Florida, winning the fifth and decisive set, 15-13.

    Next up for Florida is the No. 24 Kentucky Wildcats. First serve is set for 1 p.m. ET and longtime Florida play-by-play announcer Tom Collett will have the call on ESPN 850/900. UKAthletics.com will have a live video feed on their site and live stats can be found on GatorZone.com.