South Carolina volleyball split its weekend series against the No. 12 ranked Florida Gators, bouncing back from a tough 3-1 loss on Saturday with a scrappy 3-2 win on Sunday.
The Gamecocks played the Gators to four sets in their first match of the weekend. South Carolina's defense was unable to hold off Florida's fierce attacking.
The first, second and fourth sets of the match went in Florida's favor because South Carolina could not find an answer for the Gators' offense. Florida hit .448, .500 and .391 in those sets, as the Carolina defense struggled to contain the Gator hitters.
South Carolina's chemistry peaked in the third set, shown in how well they managed to make the Gators' offense struggle. The Gamecocks held Florida to a .115 hitting percentage and registered five blocks for the set.
The home team's offense registered a .556 kill percentage in the third set, while also totaling 15 kills.
Senior outside hitter McKenzie Moorman led the team in kills in the first match with 14 total. Alongside Moorman, sophomore middle blocker Oby Anadi also stood out with seven blocks in the set, three of which were solo blocks.
The second match of the weekend told a different story for the Gamecocks, as they managed to upset Florida in five sets in front of a packed home crowd.
"It was so fun," junior outside hitter Riley Whitesides said. "This atmosphere in this gym is like no other, and we're just really lucky to be able to have such a great atmosphere."
The first set of the back-and-forth match went to Florida 25-20. The Gamecocks were unable to break through Florida's defense, registering a .029 hitting percentage. South Carolina's poor hitting came due to a mix of the Gators' stout net defense, who registered five blocks in the set, and the Gamecocks' own offensive mistakes, with eight errors on attacks.
The second set flipped the script from the first one, with the Gamecocks taking it 25-21 because of their superior defense.
"Defensively, in the back row, we made a few adjustments, and we weren't perfect today with those but we just kept the process going," Whitesides said when asked about the team's adjustments. "Our coaches are great at communicating from the sidelines, onto the court."
South Carolina's adjustments were on full display in the second set, as it managed to contain the Gators to a .103 hitting percentage. The Gamecocks also benefitted from Florida's own mistakes, scoring five points in the set off of Florida service errors.
The third set went to Florida 25-17, putting the Gamecocks in a 2-1 set deficit. However, the team was able to keep its composure and rallied back to take the fourth and fifth sets.
"I think the team did an awesome job at coming back," senior defensive specialist Camilla Covas said. "We were just saying, 'Hey, we've got to push, we've got to fight, protect this house. We've done this before, we know we can compete, we can do this.'"
The revitalized energy showed in all categories in the fourth and fifth sets. The offense was clicking to the tune of .364 and .500 hitting percentages. The defense was not far behind, limiting the Gator's offense to .231 and .167 hitting percentages.
Whitesides led the way for the South Carolina offense, registering 16 kills on the night. On the defensive side of things, junior middle blocker Ellie Ruprich had eight blocks. The block party did not stop there, as sophomore outside hitter Lauren McCutcheon and Anadi, also had seven blocks each.
Coming off this series, the Gamecocks are now 7-5 overall and 1-1 in SEC play. Up next, the team will hit the road to take on Georgia on Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.