The Daily Gamecock

Gamecock volleyball splits two-game series with Tennessee

<p>Senior setter Courtney Koehler serves against University of North Carolina at Charlotte on Sept. 10.</p>

Senior setter Courtney Koehler serves against University of North Carolina at Charlotte on Sept. 10.

The Gamecock volleyball team faced off against Tennessee for a two-game series this weekend, losing to the Volunteers 1-3 on Friday, then coming back for a 3-0 victory on Saturday. 

In the first match, the Volunteers came out swinging with a 12-0 run. A setter dump by South Carolina graduate student Mallory Dixon ended the momentum created by Tennessee. 

Volunteer junior right side hitter Danielle Mahaffey impacted the Volunteers with a hitting average of .346, the third highest of the team.

Attacking errors and inconsistency played a large role in Carolina's 25-7 loss in the first set. Despite this, Gamecock defensive specialist Camilla Covas stood out with eight digs.

South Carolina used offensive weapons against the Tennessee defense with hard-cross shots to gain a 21-16 lead in the second set.

Aggressive plays at the net by the Lady Vols brought them back with a 4-point deficit and a score of 24-20.

A strong connection between Dixon and senior middle blocker Mikayla Robinson gave the Gamecocks a set two win, 25-20, and tied the game 1-1.

Hitting errors were a problem for the Gamecocks once again during the third set. Carolina had one kill for its first 11 attempts, resulting in a negative hitting average.

Tennessee's big block and right-side caused the Gamecocks' 25-20 downfall in the third set.

The next set was neck and neck until Tennessee's Danielle Mahaffey and Jasmine Brooks gave the Vols the upper hand, causing them to run with 7 unanswered points.

South Carolina head coach Tom Mendoza changed the offense from a 5-1 to a 6-2, and Robinson matched a career high with 16 kills, but the Gamecocks still fell to Tennessee 25-20. This resulted in a 3-1 loss.

Defensive play by South Carolina allowed the Gamecocks to control the beginning of Saturday's match. Freshman outside hitter Riley Whitesides had 12 kills and a hitting average of .267 in the second game of the series.

A block by outside hitter Kiune Fletcher ended the first set with a Carolina win of 25-16.

Serves by South Carolina kept the Lady Vols out of rhythm at the beginning of the second set, but performances by Tennessee's Emily Merrick and Lily Felts allowed the Vols to stay in the game.

Hitting errors by South Carolina allowed the Volunteers to gain a lead of 21-19. A rally at the end of the set gave the Gamecocks enough momentum to win the second set 25-23, giving South Carolina a 2-0 lead.

The Lady Vols came out swinging at the start of the third set with the help of right-side hitter Morgahn Fingall, who left the match with three kills.

With a 21-21 tied game, Vol Raquel Perinar made a serving error that broke the Tennessee momentum. Robinson hit a slide out of the middle to seal the deal for a Carolina win, sweeping the Volunteers 3-0.

Mendoza said he is excited about the future of his team based on its performance Saturday.

"I like our chances against anybody when we're competing and working together as a group like that," Mendoza told GamecockOnline.

South Carolina will play at home against Florida in a two-game series on Nov. 11 and Nov. 12.