Gamecock volleyball faced off against the Auburn Tigers in its second series of the fall season, sweeping them by scores of 3-0 and 3-1.
“We practiced things that we struggled with in Georgia, and we practiced things that we needed for this game,” freshman outside hitter Riley Whitesides said in an interview with GamecocksOnline after Wednesday's game. “I was really proud of us because we came back and immediately got to work after Georgia.”
Auburn trailed the Gamecocks nearly the whole first set. The Gamecocks eventually closed it out at 25-15, giving them their first set win over Auburn.
Going into the second set, up 1-0, the Gamecocks continued to lead for its duration. The Gamecocks started off with a 5-0 lead until Auburn finally secured its first point, making it 5-1.
This trend continued throughout the second set until the Gamecocks closed out the set at 25-16. The Gamecocks went into the third set with a 2-0 overall lead against Auburn.
The Gamecocks remained ahead of Auburn in a similar fashion in the third set, keeping the lead for the whole match once again. Auburn did close the gap late in the match, bringing the score to 24-20.
Gamecock graduate outside hitter Kyla Manning ended the final match with a big kill. Her final point ended the set at 25-20, giving the Gamecocks a 3-0 victory.
The Gamecocks outperformed Auburn in nearly every category. The entire team boasted an impressive overall stat sheet, with a combined 90 attacks, 37 kills, 42 digs and 7 blocks by the end of the third set.
“I really liked our energy, and our effort and our attention to detail,” South Carolina head coach Tom Mendoza said in an interview with GamecocksOnline. “As we prepped for Auburn, that was something that we really emphasized.”
Thursday's match got underway at 4:30.
The first set was full of 4-point runs, and graduate setter Mallory Dixon's 11 assists made the difference. She finished the night with 38.
"I mean, Mallory is a baller. She leads; she leads without saying anything, she leads while saying anything. She puts every single hitter in their best situation," Manning said postgame.
The Gamecocks started the second set strong, but a 7-2 Auburn run tied the game and gave the Tigers the lead for the majority of the set. They won that set 25-21.
In the third set, a 9-3 run led the Gamecocks to a 25-20 set win. Manning finished this set with four kills. She had 16 on the day.
"Riley, she's just a solid player. Super physical. I trust her in just about every situation, and that's a really cool relationship to have," Dixon said postgame.
The fourth and final set was full of runs. South Carolina started with a 5-0 run, as Whitesides dominated. Auburn then responded with a 6-1 run.
To finish the set, the sides would trade points back and forth, until freshman middle blocker Ellie Ruprich got the 25th and final point, moving the Gamecocks to 3-1 on the season.
"I think it was a team effort. Got a lot of girls in and played a lot of people, and it took the whole team to pull out on top," Dixon said.
This was the Gamecocks' first season sweep of 2020 and their third straight against the Tigers.
South Carolina will head to Knoxville Friday for a two-game series against the Volunteers.