FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. -- The South Carolina volleyball program opened its final road trip of the 2015 season with a bang, winning a five-set thriller at Arkansas Wednesday night. The Gamecocks (13-17, 6-11 SEC) were able to grind out the match, with comeback wins in the first and third sets and held off the Razorbacks (17-12, 7-10 SEC), 25-23, 18-25, 25-23, 17-25, 15-10.
1st Set: The Gamecocks would take an early 6-4 lead in the opening frame. The Razorbacks would reverse their early fortunes behind a 5-0 run keyed by Chanelle Clark-Bibbs. After a kill from here got a sideout, she served up four straight points behind a tough, flat float serve to give Arkansas a 9-6 lead.
Coming out of the media timeout ahead 15-13, Arkansas would go on another quick run to force the Gamecocks into taking both of their timeouts. A number of attack errors, coupled with tough service from Pilar Victoria, would put the Gamecocks behind 20-14 before fighting back. Two straight kills from Jacqy Angermiller and a kill from Dessaa Legros cut the deficit to 21-19, but Arkansas would pressure with a 23-21 lead late.
Solo blocks from Darian Dozier and Sarah Blomgren just two plays apart, coupled with an attack error for the Hogs, gave the Gamecocks a 24-23 lead. After picking up a tough dig, the Gamecocks transitioned into a tempo set to Dozier who iced the stunning comeback with a kill.
2nd Set: Another fast start would put the Gamecocks ahead early on in the second set, but unforced errors would soon take its toll on the team. Five service errors would award Arkansas with more than a third of its first 14 points of the set and the home side would go ahead 15-14 at the media timeout after trailing by as much as four early on.
Carolina would have to burn a quick timeout after allowing the first three points out of the commercial break, and soon found itself in a 20-16 hole. The Hogs would not allow for any comebacks this time around, converting on four straight kills before getting an ace to end it.
3rd Set: Arkansas' blocking game would be a key to start the third set. Aside from two early blocks, the Hogs would send a number of Carolina attacks back and have the Gamecocks taking a second swing out of system. Carolina would have more attack errors through the first 20 combined points than Arkansas would have kills, and the home side would lead 15-12 at the first break.
The lead would get to 18-13 before a 5-1 run for the Gamecocks would goad the Razorbacks into a timeout. Courtney Furlong would account for a pair of kills to kick off the run, which would eventually extend out to 11-2 and gave Carolina a 24-20 lead. Two attack errors from the Gamecocks would threaten to push the set past 25 points, but the Hogs would hit one long to end another comeback for Carolina and a 2-1 lead in the match.
4th Set: The passing woes for Carolina would be magnified in the fourth set, with Arkansas needing to win to extend the match. The Gamecocks would not record their first kill until it was already a 12-4 lead for Arkansas. The net defense would remain strong for the Razorbacks, who would extend the lead out to 14-5 after getting blocks on back-to-back points.
By cutting down on its errors, Carolina was able to chip away at the early hole, but would run out of time as the Hogs were able to coast to the 25-17 win. The Gamecocks would hit just .059 in the set, to Arkansas' .238.
5th Set: Entering the day with an 0-4 record in five-set matches this season, the Gamecocks had to embark on new territory on the road. Aubrey Ezell would give the team some early confidence after serving the team a 3-0 lead off the bat. The lead would grow as large as five, 9-4, before Arkansas was able to get going offensively.
The two teams would trade point-for-point from then on, and Furlong's tenth kill of the night would set them up with match point. One final attack error would clinch the team's first five-set win since Nov. 19 of last season.
STAT OF THE MATCH
No one player would post gaudy stats, but the Gamecocks were able to grind out the win thanks to a whole team effort. Four different players would get double-digit kills, and an entirely different set of four players would get to double-digit digs.
The 2015 season will come to a close Friday with a match at Missouri. It will be the first meeting between the two teams this season, and it will air on the SEC Network + at 8 p.m. ET. The Tigers had a chance at the SEC title, but lost in five sets to Texas A&M Wednesday night. They are still 25-5 for the season, 13-4 in the conference.