The South Carolina women's volleyball team dropped both games to the No. 22 Tennessee Volunteers this past weekend. The team lost the first game 3-1 on Friday and were swept 3-0 on Saturday.
The South Carolina Gamecocks couldn’t hang on to their leads Friday night, falling to the No. 22 Tennessee Volunteers 3-1 in a closely contested match.
The Volunteers started the game out aggressively, getting ahead early in the first set. They went on a 6-point run and took the lead at 10-6.
South Carolina refused to back down, though, and traded points with the Vols, eventually tying the first set at 20-20. It was here that Tennessee took over, landing two kills, a service ace and locking in defensively to take the first set 25-21.
The Gamecocks took an early lead in the second set, led by graduate student outside hitter Kyla Manning who finished the set with nine kills. This offensive spark paired with impressive front court defense led to South Carolina taking the second set 25-17.
The Gamecocks looked like they were going to carry their momentum through to the third set by getting ahead early, taking the lead at 22-16. They couldn't take advantage of the opportunity, as Tennessee scored 7 straight, taking control of the game at 23-22.
South Carolina then tied it up at 23, before the Vols scored 2 straight to take the third set 25-23.
The fourth and final set was extremely close leading to the score being tied at 14-14. From here, both teams traded points back and forth to the end with the lead never exceeding 2 points.
The Gamecocks once again took the lead with kills from freshman outside hitter Lauren McCutcheon and Manning, leading the Vols 24-22 with set point.
South Carolina was again unable to take advantage of this lead, allowing Tennessee to score 4 unanswered points and to win the set and the match.
Although unhappy with the results of the game, head coach Tom Mendoza said he felt the team still played well and that the game was a good learning experience.
“You know you’re in a good conference when you feel like you can play well and you lose, and I think that’s what — I think that's a little bit of the way we feel tonight,” Mendoza said postgame. “We feel like we should have won set three, probably feel like we should have won set four, but we didn’t make enough plays down the stretch and let both of them get away.”
The Gamecocks got swept in a brutal match against the Volunteers 3-0 on Saturday.
In the first set, Tennessee used key blocks to disrupt the Gamecock offense, which put them out of position and unable to recover, leading to easy kills for the Volunteers. The receives and sets by the Gamecocks were too predictable, which gave the Tennessee front line plenty of time to get in position for the block. The first set ended 25-22 with the Volunteers winning early.
The second set was characterized by excellent spikes from the Tennessee offense. Each kill came in like a rocket and didn’t allow the Gamecocks any time to defend. Great digs from the Gamecocks were hard to come by, ending the whole match with seven digs less than the Vols, and not a single player with more than eight digs. Overall, a disappointing set for South Carolina, ending 25-20 in favor of the Volunteers.
In the final set of the match, Tennessee overcame South Carolina with excellent blocking. South Carolina seemed to be using the same strategy throughout the match of pushing sets to sophomore outside hitter Riley Whitesides, who ended the match with 13 kills, the most of any Gamecock in the match. However, Tennessee blockers homed in on this and set up perfect blocks for that positioning. Each block was sent straight back over the net without giving the Gamecocks any time to recover. Tennessee won the final set 25-17.
The Gamecocks look to bounce back in Starkville, Mississippi when they take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Wed. Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. on SEC Network+.