The Daily Gamecock

Tale of two games: Gamecock volleyball loses in straight sets Wednesday; upsets No. 4 Florida Thursday

After losing in straight sets on Wednesday against the No. 4 Florida Gators, South Carolina volleyball upset them on Thursday, 3-2.

In the first match Wednesday, the Gamecocks struggled defensively and failed to stop the Gators, who outhit the Gamecocks .319% to .114%.

In the first set, the Gators started on a 5-0 run after the first serve by the Gamecocks, which hit the net. The Gators won the set 25-17.

Junior outside hitter Thayer Hall came up big for the Gators, scoring six kills on 10 attempts in the set.

The Gators started the second set off on a 3-0 run. The Gamecocks were quick to catch up, tying the set at 7 points, but after a Gator challenge, the tying point was taken away and awarded to the Gators. From there, the Gators took the momentum and again won the set 25-17.

Going into the third set, down 2-0 in the match, the Gamecocks tried to pull themselves back in it. With the score tied at 6, a ball handling error by Gator junior setter Marlie Monserez gave the Gamecocks their first lead. 

The teams continued to trade blows throughout the set, but when the score tied at 22, Florida scored three kills to win the set and the match.

Freshman outside hitter Riley Whiteside led the way for the Gamecocks, earning nine kills, three assists, four digs and one block. Graduate outside hitter Kyla Manning and senior middle blocker Mikayla Robinson earned seven kills each.

Before the game on Thursday, the team celebrated Kaely Ann Thompson's senior day.

The first set was back-and-forth. To finish it off, the Gamecocks went on a 9-4 run and won it 25-21. That victory handed Florida its first set loss of the year. Whitesides led the way that set with seven kills. She had a career-high 23 on the day.

The next set, both teams traded runs, but a 16-6 run helped finish out a 25-17 win for Florida.

In the third, the Gamecocks started out strong, but a 11-4 run gave Florida its first lead of the set and eventually its win, 25-21.

Halfway through the fourth set, the Gamecocks had a 6-2 run, giving them a 7-point lead. They would finish the set with a 7-0 run, tying up the match at 2-2 with a 25-13 victory. Manning had 15 kills through the first four sets, finishing with 16 on the day.

"I'm really happy for [Manning and Whitesides] 'cause then everyone else outside of our gym gets to see what we see every day," South Carolina head coach Tom Mendoza said in a postgame interview with GamecocksOnline.

This led to a fifth set, setting up for a potential upset. Prior to Thursday, the No. 4 ranked Gators hadn't lost a game.

After trading the first 6 points, the Gators went on a 2-0 run. A couple traded points and rallies later, the Gamecocks cut the lead back down to 1.

The Gamecocks went on to a 5-0 run to win 15-12, giving the Gamecocks their first ranked conference win since 2018 and first top-five win in program history.

"Really proud of them and really happy for them," Mendoza said.

The Gamecocks finish the fall season with a 5-3 record.


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