COLUMBIA, S.C. - A career day from senior McKenzie Moorman helped the South Carolina volleyball kick off the season on a high note Friday. Her game-high 19 kills led the offense in a 3-1 win over Sacred Heart (1-1) and she ended opening day with 16 more kills in a three-set sweep of Omaha (1-1).
In the morning against the Pioneers, the two sides traded off sets to begin the match and Sacred Heart seemed poised to push ahead with a lead late in set three. Trailing 21-16, the Gamecocks were able to ride the arms of Moorman and Lauren McCutcheon to draw within one, 24-23, then got a big block from Claire Wilson and Gabby Brown and a pair of Sacred Heart attack errors to steal the set and a 2-1 lead. In the fourth, South Carolina's offense went on a tear, hitting .389 with a game-high 18 kills as a unit, led by five apiece from McCutcheon and Moorman to seal a 3-1 win with a 25-18 decision.
Opening day ended with a raucous sell-out crowd in the Carolina Volleyball Center, 1,600 fans pushed the team to a blistering start to the match, a 25-12 win in the first set buoyed by five kills from Moorman and an offense that did not commit a single error. After a 25-21 win in the second to take a 2-0 lead, the Gamecocks again found themselves behind late as the Mavericks tried to force a fourth set with a 24-21 advantage down the stretch. An attack error and back-to-back kills from Riley Whitesides erased the lead, and after trading points it would be none other than Moorman who sent home her 15th and 16th kills of the night for the clinching points of a 28-26 win and a 3-0 sweep.
- Moorman's previous high for kills entering Friday was 12, against Alabama on Oct. 27, 2019 - her freshman season.
- Three Gamecocks notched a pair of aces against Sacred Heart - Dalaney Hans, Whitesides and Camilla Covas - but the Gamecocks also committed 15 service errors compared to just four by the Pioneers.
- Claire Wilson led the team with 33 assists vs. Sacred Heart, but needed only 64 total sets to reach it. The Gamecock offense converted 51.6 percent of her sets for kills and overall had kills on 43.5 percent of the total sets.
- Junior Kiune Fletcher showed she could have a breakout year ahead of her after finishing with eight kills and two solo blocks against the Pioneers. Both are career highs.
- Junior Ellie Ruprich made her season debut against Omaha and did miss a beat from her 112-block sophomore season in 2021. The middle recorded seven total blocks and three solo stuffs in the three sets against the Mavericks.
- Highly touted transfer libero Jenna Hampton showed why she garnered preseason All-SEC honors from the league's coaches, picking up 17 digs in the win over Omaha and adding seven assists as well.
QUOTABLE Head Coach Tom Mendoza on McKenzie Moorman's performances "Kenz had one of the better days as an attacker that you could possibly ask for. She's been working hard and making adjustments, she was taking when Omaha was giving her and what Sacred Heart was given her, then Omaha made some adjustments late set two and set three and Kenz was finding ways to go back and continue to be effective and put points on the board. Even if they're getting stopped, even if they're getting blocked, we need those players to keep swinging across our lineup. We need to put 25 points on the board and we need that group to be effective and aggressive and today was a great example of how we can do it."
UP NEXT The Gamecocks have one game remaining in their opening weekend tournament. The team hosts in-state rival Winthrop at 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon. The Eagles went 0-2 on their first day in Columbia, losing 3-0 to Omaha and 3-2 to Sacred Heart. The match will be carried on the SEC Network+.