The Daily Gamecock

Recap: Gamecock volleyball sweeps weekend series at Alabama

Members of the volleyball team celebrate a point. South Carolina came out with a 3-2 victory at Alabama Saturday afternoon.
Members of the volleyball team celebrate a point. South Carolina came out with a 3-2 victory at Alabama Saturday afternoon.

South Carolina opened its spring volleyball season with Friday and Saturday victories at Alabama.

The Gamecocks came out of the gates firing in Friday's match, beginning on a 4-0 run. They stretched that lead out to 9-2, and Alabama’s only 2 points were on service errors.

For the remainder of the set, the Gamecocks continued to play as a team, stuffing the stat board and winning 25-17.

South Carolina outhit Alabama at a rate of .303 to .118 throughout the set, dominating on kills, assists and digs.

“I love the way we came out. The first set was pretty crisp,” South Carolina head coach Tom Mendoza said.

Alabama took the lead about halfway through the second set and the Gamecocks didn't come back. The Crimson Tide took the second set 25-22.

Alabama continued its newly found momentum into the third set, taking an 8-4 lead early. A 7-2 run by the Gamecocks gave them the lead throughout the game. Riley Whitesides had 10 kills up until that point and finished Friday with 14. The Gamecocks won the third set by a score of 25-21.

South Carolina fell behind during the beginning of the fourth set but improved later. The Gamecocks won the set 25-22 and won the match 3-1.

Courtney Weber had a career day, assisting on 22 points. She missed the final five games of the fall due to COVID-19 contact tracing protocols.

“It felt great; the thing I missed most was just playing with my teammates,” Weber said. 

Saturday's opening set was the polar opposite of Friday’s, as Alabama took a large lead early in the set and won 25-23.

In the second set, the Gamecocks took a 9-2 lead out of the gate. They ended up leading by as much as 13 points, ultimately winning 25-23. Mallory Dixon had 17 of a career-high 48 assists.

Alabama dominated again in the third set, winning 25-27 after threatening a double-digit victory. South Carolina won the fourth 25-18.

"Our message in between sets three and four was, 'We're going to find out what we're made of,'" Mendoza said. 

In the fifth set, a key 4-0 run gave the Gamecocks a 10-5 lead on the back of three straight Tide attack errors. South Carolina completed the comeback and won the set 15-9 to win the match and complete the weekend sweep.

Kyla Manning picked up a Carolina career-high of 20 kills in Saturday's match. She was one of four Gamecocks to have double-digit kills.

"I was just trying to stay high [over their block]," Manning said. "Try to make sense of shots that would keep them guessing."

The Gamecocks return to play on Thursday, hosting Mississippi State at 7 p.m.