The Daily Gamecock

Volleyball returns home for SEC play

Gamecocks will face Tennessee, Auburn

While South Carolina has struggled to find a road identity this season, the comforts of home have been all too familiar.

The Gamecocks (11-9, 3-5 SEC) are 7-3 at home this season, with their three losses coming from Georgia, Kentucky and Arkansas — all top-tier SEC teams.

South Carolina will look to get back on track this weekend as they return home to host Tennessee (8-13, 0-7 SEC) on Friday at 7 p.m. and Auburn (12-7, 3-4 SEC) on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

South Carolina beat Tennessee 3-1 earlier this season behind outside hitter Juliette Thevenin’s double-double. The senior registered 23 kills and 16 digs in the team’s first win in Knoxville since 2002.

“We know their lineup has changed, and they don’t have a really good record because they lost everything [last year],” Thevenin said. “But I think we need to worry about our side of the net. When we worry about our side of the net, everything seems to work smooth. I think we need to focus on what we can do, and just keep working hard as a team, so we can get some good results again.”

The Lady Volunteers have struggled to replace last year’s senior class, who helped rewrite the record books for an already-prestigious Tennessee program.

The foursome of Jasmine Brown, Leslie Cikra, Kayla Jeter and DeeDee Harrison combined for 99 wins throughout their time at Tennessee, and their .786 winning percentage is a school record. Out of the four, Cikra, Jeter and Harrison are currently playing professionally in Europe.

This year, the Lady Volunteers have dropped their first seven matches in conference play. Tennessee is also 1-12 in their last 13 matches.

While Tennessee has had their struggles, the Gamecocks learned over the weekend that anything can happen, with a loss at Mississippi State and a win at Ole Miss.

“Nobody can be taken for granted, that’s for sure,” head coach Scott Swanson said. “We need to go out and play our best every time we get a chance to play.”

Auburn presents something of a different challenge to the Gamecocks. The Tigers are 3-4 in the SEC but hold impressive wins over LSU and Texas A&M.

Meanwhile, their losses have come against the top-half of the SEC, including Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri and Arkansas. Auburn will serve as a litmus test for the Gamecocks, who sit one spot below the Tigers in the rankings.

“I think that Auburn is way better than people think,” Swanson said. “Obviously, we didn’t play our best because we didn’t take Mississippi State seriously. Hopefully we’re not going to make that mistake again this season.”

With this season being Thevenin’s last as a Gamecock, she said she realizes that any losses will be tough to swallow. But having only six home games and a total of eleven regular season games remaining on South Carolina’s schedule, each loss would be magnified.

“It’s tougher; it’s definitely tougher,” Thevenin said. “Obviously, I want to win every single game. If we all play together and stay together through the hard times, I think that’s what is going to help us win games.”


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