The Daily Gamecock

Analysis: Gamecock volleyball sweeps Carolina Classic, starts season undefeated

The South Carolina volleyball team started its 2022 campaign strong, winning all three of its matches in the Carolina Classic. The team dominated the weekend, losing only one set across all three games. 

The South Carolina volleyball team started its 2022 campaign strong, winning all three of its matches in the Carolina Classic. The team dominated the weekend, losing only one set across all three games. 

“To win all three matches against teams that are very successful in their conferences is a huge deal,” head coach Tom Mendoza said.

Game one

The Gamecocks started off their weekend with a 3-1 win over Sacred Heart on Friday. 

Aces played a large role in determining the winner of the first two sets. Starting the first set down 4-0, the Gamecocks took some time to find their rhythm but combined for five aces once they got it together. Junior outside hitter Riley Whitesides provided a spark, recording six of South Carolina's 13 kills in the set.

The Gamecocks lost its only set of the weekend during the second set. Sacred Heart recorded five aces to the Gamecocks’ zero, tying the match at one win a piece. 

South Carolina won the third set 26-24 after trailing most of the way and overcoming a 21-16 deficit near the end of the set. The team carried that momentum into the fourth set, winning 25-18. 

Service errors buried Sacred Heart in this match. The team committed 15 service errors, while the Gamecocks committed just four. Another factor in the South Carolina's victory was the team's ability to get kills, recording 15 more than its opponent.

Senior outside hitter McKenzie Moorman had an excellent game for the Gamecocks, setting a career-high 19 kills on 27 attacks.

Game two

In the second game Friday, South Carolina swept Omaha 3-0. 

The Gamecocks' hit percentage for the game was .362, much better than Omaha’s .136 hit percentage. This edge allowed South Carolina to rack up more points than Omaha could keep up with. 

South Carolina set the tone early in this match, winning the first set 25-12. Omaha’s nine errors in the set made keeping up with the Gamecocks impossible. 

Moorman put up another big performance, recording 16 kills and four blocks, giving her a total of 35 kills on the day. 

South Carolina ended the match by winning a close third set 28-26. The Gamecocks earned four more kills than Omaha in the set, providing the team with the separation needed to finish the match. 

Game three

South Carolina completed its perfect weekend on Saturday with a 3-0 sweep of Winthrop. The Gamecocks played an all-around better game than the Eagles, leading to the dominant win.

The Gamecocks were quick to the ball and managed to hit it into the gaps of the Eagle defense. South Carolina finished with a percentage of .341, while the Eagles ended with .140. 

“Our coaches do a great job of letting us know what’s available, and as well as our teammates, our back row of attackers, if they see a seam on the block, they talk about it, communicate with us where we get the kill,” junior middle-blocker Ellie Ruprich said.

Ruprich started the game on fire, filling the box score in the first set. She recorded five kills on seven attacks, two blocks and a dig during the Gamecocks' 25-19 opening set victory. She finished the match with nine kills, three blocks, three digs and an ace. 

“My teammates have my back and they trusted me,” Ruprich said. “I think they put me in really good situations, as well as setting situations, I was able to be successful.”

The game’s final two sets started out close but quickly fell into South Carolina’s favor. The team was able to play a cleaner game than the Eagles, who committed nine more total errors than the Gamecocks. 

What’s next

The Gamecocks will hit the road next week for a three-game ACC road trip. The team will play at North Carolina next Friday, Wake Forest next Saturday and Clemson on Sept. 6. All the games can be viewed on ACC Network Extra. 

“It’s a good test for the SEC, you know because similar environments that we’re going to have once we get into SEC season,” Mendoza said. “We’ll take it one match at a time, but hopefully we come back with three wins.”