KNOXVILLE, TENN. - South Carolina's offense broke out of a slump in a big way Friday night, as the Gamecocks set a season high for kills in a 3-1 win at Tennessee. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Carolina (11-12, 4-7 SEC), and gave the team its longest win streak over the Volunteers (11-10, 4-8 SEC) since 2002.
SET 1: Tennessee built an early lead in the opening game, but South Carolina rode the arm of Mikayla Shields to come back for the 25-22 win and a 1-0 lead. The Volunteers led 9-4 off the jump, but a 6-0 run behind the serve of Claire Edwards put the Gamecocks ahead for the first time in the match. The run stretched out to 11-2 to make it 15-11, but Tennessee took the lead back at 20-19 out of a Gamecock timeout. A 3-0 run behind kills from Shields, Abreia Epps and Courtney Furlong put the team ahead for good.
SET 2: The second set was a wild shootout, with Tennessee hitting .382 and South Carolina .371. The Volunteers were able to get the key push late to pull out the 25-23 win and even the match at 1-1. All told, there were 15 ties and five lead changes in the set, but a 2-0 run out of a 22-all tie would be the difference for the home side.
SET 3: South Carolina carried its offense's momentum into the third set, and built a lead early after a slow start for the Vols. The Gamecocks went ahead 13-6 behind kills from all six position players out the gate. Tennessee used a 4-0 to cut into its deficit, but Carolina recovered quickly and used a 4-0 run of its own to extend out to the largest lead of the set at 19-11. The Vols would get no closer than five points the rest of the way in the 25-18 win to put Carolina up 2-1.
SET 4: The Gamecocks rode the arm of Claire Edwards early, the sophomore middle accounted for five of the team's first 12 kills. She helped the team build and maintain a lead in what would be another slugfest between the two offenses. South Carolina hit .368 for the game, making just four errors against 18 kills, and led for nearly the entire set. The Vols cut the Gamecock lead to just 18-17 late in the game, but a 4-0 run from the visitors, keyed by kills from Shields and Mikayla Robinson, put the match to rest. South Carolina won 25-21 to earn just its second win on Rocky Top since 2003.
STAT OF THE MATCH
South Carolina finished with 69 kills and hit .321 in the match. The 69 kills are a season high, and the hitting percentage is the highest of the SEC season and the best since Sept. 16 at Clemson.
The team wraps up the weekend on the road with a Sunday afternoon match at No. 6 Kentucky. First serve against the Wildcats is scheduled for 1:30 pm ET, and will air on Watch ESPN. The Gamecocks have not won in Lexington since 2003.