ATHENS, Ga. - The University of Georgia women's volleyball team picked up its first win of the 2020 season Sunday afternoon with a 3-1 win over South Carolina at Stegeman Coliseum (21-25, 25-19, 25-23, 25-21).
The Bulldogs and Gamecocks split the opening-weekend series after South Carolina won Saturday's match in three sets.
Georgia's (1-1, 1-1) offense was carried by 26 kills from sophomore transfer Amber Stivrins, a career best. She hit .564 in the match two service aces and eight digs. Stivrins' 26 kills fell one short of tying the rally scoring record for kills in a four-set match (27) set by Rachel Ritchie in 2017.
Freshman Phoebe Awoleye also had a stellar day, registering seven kills (.700 hitting clip), five aces, and four blocks.
In her first match of the season, sophomore Kacie Evans totaled 10 digs to lead the team and laid down seven kills and a block.
The opening stanza started close until South Carolina (1-1, 1-1) strung together three-straight points to force a Georgia timeout, 10-7 Gamecocks. Out of the timeout, Georgia rode a 6-1 run to capture a 13-11 lead. With Georgia ahead 15-14, the Gamecocks strung together four-straight to lead 18-15. Georgia pulled within one, 21-20, but South Carolina held on to win the opening set, 25-21.
Georgia came out of the gate hot in the second set, leading as much as 7-3 early; however, the Gamecocks battled to take a 12-10 lead and force a Bulldog timeout. Georgia regrouped after the timeout to race out to a 20-15 lead. Georgia cruised to a 25-19 win in set two to knot the match at one set apiece. Stivrins' 10th kill of the match sealed the deal for Georgia in the stanza.
South Carolina jumped out to a lead early in the third set and Georgia had to work to stay in it much of the set. Down 16-10, the Bulldogs called for a timeout. After the break, the offense began firring and won five of the next six rallies to pull within two, 17-15, and force a Gamecock timeout. Down three, 22-18, the Bulldogs strung together three-straight to knot the set. Back-to-back Awoleye aces gave Georgia the 23-22 advantage. Tied at 23, kills by Sage Naves and Stivrins clinched the third set, 25-23, and a one-set lead in the match for the Bulldogs. The set ended on a 7-1 Georgia run.
The fourth set was all Bulldogs as Georgia never trailed in the frame. With Georgia ahead 18-13, South Carolina used a timeout to regroup, which it did and narrow the lead to 21-18, prompting a break from the Bulldog bench. Two Stivrins kills and a Sage Naves block drew set point for Georgia, 24-19. Georgia used its final timeout after back-to-back Gamecock points but a kill from sophomore Meghan Froemming clinched the set and match for Georgia, 25-21.
The Bulldogs return to action with a midweek series at Tennessee Wednesday, Oct. 28, and Thursday, Oct. 29. Both matches will begin at 7 p.m., ET, and will air nationally on the networks of ESPN.
Head coach Tom Black
On message after the first set...
"We had some simple play opportunities that we weren't seeing, so it's just about getting our focus. On offense, points are points. If you're giving up simple points, then your great plays aren't working for you. We were just trying to tighten up on the ball defensively and transition out."
On handling opposing team's runs...
"That's stuff I have to break down tonight because all streaks aren't the same. In general, when we're hitting tough serves, we need to make sure the opponent sides out of it not just giving it to them. And, you just want to get out of your rotations quickly. You don't want to give up runs. That's the work we're going to do coming up, and we have plenty of practice time to work on it."
On Amber Stivrins' performance...
"I think she's pretty good. She's a stud. She passed a lot better today than yesterday. She wants the ball. She's hungry. She does the work on and off the court. I thought she took over tonight in some key moments when we needed her."