Despite winning the first set 25-15, the South Carolina volleyball team fell to LSU at Carolina Volleyball Center on Friday.
The Tigers won the next three sets by scores of 25-17, 25-15 and 25-20, and scored 11 of the last 13 points in the fourth set.
South Carolina head coach Scott Swanson has seen this become a pattern for the Gamecocks.
“We come out on fire and play almost perfect volleyball,” Swanson said. “Maybe our kids don’t understand quite yet that the other team is going to respond in an aggressive way.”
He added that he and the other coaches think this could be a mental factor, and said it doesn't seem to come out in practice.
“We’ve talked about it and we’ve tried to get them to understand just because you beat a team 25-13, you got to expect that they’re gonna come back and play even harder," Swanson said. "We’re scared to see what's gonna happen next, because it's happened too many times now.”
Junior Aubrey Ezell said LSU did things that the Gamecocks didn’t scout in advance and that the team has been working on fixing the second set in practice.
Swanson still called his timeouts when LSU went on its runs, but was hesitant to because of the TV timeout rule. The game was being broadcasted on SEC Network, and like in football, the network has scheduled timeouts that basically give each team a free timeout.
When he did call his timeouts, he said he thought he would need his timeouts later.
When he used them, “It didn’t matter at that point.”
While they lost the match, several Gamecocks played well, including Ezell, who had 20 digs. Sophomores Alicia Starr and Mikayla Shields had 10 kills apiece, while freshman Mikayla Robinson and senior Abreia Epps each had eight kills. The Gamecocks were unable to convert these individual successes into team success.
“It’s very frustrating always to [have] everyone individually play really good, just as a team not be able to come together,” said Ezell.
With the loss, the Gamecocks fell to 8-6 overall and 1-1 in SEC play. They will have a chance to improve to above .500 in conference play on Sunday when they host Tennessee at 1 p.m.