The Daily Gamecock

Volleyball team gives Bulldogs first conference win

Juliette Thevenin continues impressive play

South Carolina was able to salvage their weekend series by defeating Ole Miss on Sunday, but their loss to Mississippi State on Friday will serve as a constant reminder for the rest of the season not to take any team for granted.

The Gamecocks (11-9, 3-5 SEC) fell in three sets to Mississippi State (11-9, 2-4 SEC) while handing the Bulldogs their first conference win of the season. Mississippi State had lost four straight games to open up SEC play, and had yet to win a set before South Carolina came to town.

Head coach Scott Swanson was disappointed with the result, but was glad his team did not drop Sunday’s match.

“If we would have come out and played to our potential Friday night, we would have had a different result,” Swanson said. “We didn’t get what we wanted, but it was good that we got the second one for sure.”

South Carolina came out and gave Mississippi State a tough set to open up the match, but were unable to capitalize on two set points and eventually dropped the game 28-26.

The Bulldogs dominated the second game, using 11 South Carolina errors to build an insurmountable lead. Mississippi State jumped out to a 20-9 lead before the Gamecocks built a 9-4 rally to pull within six. South Carolina would fall on the next point as freshman middle back Chelsea Duhs recorded one of her eight kills to take the set.

The third set proved to be a tighter match with South Carolina refusing to let the match slip away without a fight. The Gamecocks were fueled by three kills from senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin to open up the third set. After exchanging points with the Bulldogs to reach a 10-9 score, Mississippi State would grab the next four points to break away for good. Mississippi State would win the game 25-20 while shooting .336 overall for the match, with three players racking up double-digit kills.

One of South Carolina’s bright spots continues to be the outstanding play they’ve received from Thévenin. The 6-foot-2-inch senior from Belgium shot .400 in Friday’s loss at Mississippi State, which is her second highest of the season. She recorded a .571 earlier this year against Robert Morris.

“I think it’s pretty awesome that we have that reliability coming from [Thévenin],” Swanson said. “It’s tough when you don’t always get the results that you want, but she’s kept a pretty good attitude. We’re really going to really miss her next year, that’s for sure.”

Thévenin had an equally impressive showing Sunday against Ole Miss (11-10, 1-7 SEC), as she recorded a match-high 25 kills in the Gamecocks’ victory.

South Carolina split the first two games with the Rebels, setting the stage for a third game which would see 10 different tie scores and five different lead changes. The Gamecocks cruised to a 22-19 advantage, but they allowed Ole Miss to creep back into contention by giving up a 4-0 run. South Carolina then called a timeout to regroup, and then took the next three points to win the set 25-23.

The Gamecocks staved off a late Rebels rally at the end of the fourth set to take the game 25-18.

With the weekend split, South Carolina now sits at ninth in the SEC standings. The Gamecocks have a chance to improve on that this weekend as they face a Tennessee team they already beat this season and an Auburn squad who is one place ahead of the Gamecocks in the standings.

South Carolina will take on the Volunteers Friday at 7 p.m. at the Volleyball Competition Facility.


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