COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The Gamecocks closed out the non-conference season Tuesday night, welcoming in another tough test with Coastal Carolina (8-4). The Chanticleers, a NCAA tournament team from a year ago, claimed the 3-1 victory over Carolina (7-6), 25-15, 17-25, 25-15, 25-23. Dessaa Legros led the team with 13 kills.
The visitors jumped out to an early 6-1 lead in the first set, with a back-to-back blocks that forced a timeout from the Gamecocks. The Chants would total four blocks in the set and would take the early 1-0 lead.
Set two would be the polar opposite of the first frame, with the Gamecocks forcing an early timeout after taking a 6-2 lead. They would knock back four blocks of their own, three came on assists by freshman Courtney Furlong and senior Darian Dozier. Coastal Carolina would scratch its way back to just a 15-12 deficit, but a balanced Gamecock offense would pick up where its defense left off. Sarah Blomgren would have four kills in the set, with Legros and Jacqy Angermiller adding in three apiece to even things up heading to the halftime break.
After it was held to just .083 hitting in the second set, Coastal's efficient offense came out of the locker room refocused. Led by its 2014 conference player of the year Leah Hardeman, the Chanticleers hit .355 in the third set and led wire-to-wire. Legros would spike five kills in the set, but as a team Carolina committed 10 attack errors.
The fourth set would be a dogfight, with the teams trading the lead seven different times with 12 total ties. Coastal staked itself to an early 6-3 lead, but South Carolina used a 7-0 run behind the service of Koko Atoa-Williams to take the lead. The junior recorded a pair of aces in the run, but the Chanticleers countered with a 7-1 run after breaking her serve and took the lead back, 13-11. Neither team would take a lead larger than two points for the rest of the set, but the Gamecocks were unable to muster another run and force the decisive fifth set.
After it looked as though the Gamecocks would force a fifth set thanks to a 7-0 run that gave it a 10-6 lead, Coastal Carolina answered with a 7-1 to retake the lead. The visitors used four blocks in the final set to quell South Carolina's rally.
Key Stat The Chanticleers kept the Carolina defense off-balance in the match thanks to its strong service. The visitors totaled eight aces in the match, the most by any Gamecock opponent so far this season.
• Libero Joely Cabrera went over the 20-dig mark for the second time in the last three matches. She now has double-digit digs in each of the last four matches and has upped her average to 3.71 digs per set.
• Setter Aubrey Ezell proved why she was named the SEC's setter of the week on Monday, passing out 38 assists with 10 more digs. She now has three straight double-doubles and nine for the season.
• After recording just nine aces in 121 sets played last season, junior Koko Atoa-Williams now has seven in 46 sets in 2015. She would record both of her aces in the fourth set to fuel the team's comeback from an early deficit
• Middle blocker Jacqy Angermiller set a new season high with eight kills Tuesday night. She hit .263 for the night and also added three block assists
The team will open the SEC season at home on national TV Friday night, hosting Kentucky for a 7 p.m. match. The competition will air on the SEC Network with Melissa Lee and Nell Fortner on the call.