ATHENS, GA. -- The Gamecock volleyball team broke out of their losing streak in a big way Wednesday night sweeping Georgia 25-17, 25-22, 25-20. The win gives Carolina (8-12, 1-6 SEC) its first road and conference wins of the season, and snapped a seven-match losing streak. Dessaa Legros had one of her best nights as a Gamecock, leading the team with 15 kills and adding 16 digs.
1st Set: The Bulldogs (5-12, 0-5 SEC) took the early lead, but behind the service of Dessaa Legros the Gamecocks would make what would be the only comeback needed in the set. Along with an ace, Legros kept the opposing offense off-balance and helped the team turn a 4-3 deficit into a 7-4 lead. The junior outside hitter added two early kills to go with her tough service.
Senior middle blocker Darian Dozier would take over the reins as the offense's leader later in the set, accounting for three kills over a five-point span. Solid passing out of the back row helped Dozier and setter Aubrey Ezell run an effective quick-strike attack from the middle and she finished with five kills in the set. Much of that defense came from libero Megan Kirkland, who had seven digs in the first set alone.
Koko Atoa-Williams would be the benefactor of Dozier's work through the middle, as she would catch fire from the pins to lead the way in the home stretch. She would claim three of the team's final four kills of the set, with Carolina closing out on a 5-0 run and a 25-17 win.
2nd Set: The Bulldogs showed a tremendous block in the second set, but could not stop Legros and the Gamecocks enough in set two. The Garnet and Black led from the second point of the set on, and survived a late comeback attempt to take a 2-0 lead in the match. Legros recorded seven kills in the set, helping combat a Georgia defense that put down seven blocks in the set.
A kill from Legros put the team up 19-13 before Georgia threw its block party rally. It would record five blocks all within a 6-1 run to force a Carolina timeout in a 20-19 game. A pair of kills from Elizabeth Johnbull broke the spell and the Gamecocks were able to hold on for the 25-22 win, with another kill from Dozier to cap it off.
3rd Set: Georgia would fight hard to try and extend the match, but a confident South Carolina defense would deny them the chance. The set went into the timeout with the Gamecocks ahead 15-13 but unable to get distance on the 'Dogs. A 7-2 run brought the set to 21-15, powered by kills from three different players, and the team would cruise down the stretch to clinch the sweep.
Despite the fact that she led the team in kills for the set, with six, Legros would get defensive and helped deny Georgia's pin attackers. She totaled ten digs in the third set alone to lock up her third double-double of the season thanks to a final tally of 15 kills and 16 digs.
Despite recording just four total blocks in the match, the Gamecocks held Georgia to a .101 hitting percentage in the match. The Bulldogs entered the night ranked last in the SEC in kills, and finished with just 27 total thanks to Carolina's 71 total digs.
"I feel like we came out of our mental slump, we were just lacking some confidence over the last few weeks," said South Carolina coach Scott Swanson. "I feel like even though we've lost the last couple of matches we've been playing better and tonight we came in and were firing on all cylinders. We were very good offensively, we dug a lot of balls tonight and we executed the serve and pass game really really well and usually when you do those thing's you're going to win. I'm just really proud of all our kids, it was a really good team effort."
Carolina will get to return home for a few days before capping the week off on the road Sunday. It travels over to Knoxville for a 1:30 p.m. ET match at Tennessee. It will be another installment in what is the longest-running series in South Carolina history. The two met in the Gamecock's first season of existence in 1973; Tennessee leads the series 36-27. The Gamecocks are entering Sunday riding a two-game win streak at Thompson-Boling Arena. Prior to this modest run, the Vols had won ten straight at home from 2003-13.
•Aubrey Ezell finished with 49 assists and 12 digs for her 13th double-double of the season. She now ranks 12th in program history for double-doubles in a single season.
•This was the sixth time all season that the team was out-blocked by the opposition, but just the second time the team won while being out-blocked.
•A big reason for the team's overall offensive success was the efficiency of the middle attackers. The trio of Dozier, Johnbull and Angermiller combined for 20 kills in 34 attacks.
•This is the first time since 2002 that the Gamecocks won at Georgia in back-to-back meetings.
•The win is head coach Scott Swanson's 69th while at Carolina, bringing him into a tie for third-most in program history with Kathy Graham (1976-77).