COLUMBIA, S.C. - A well-balanced offense guided South Carolina volleyball to a sweep of in-state rival Winthrop (0-3) Saturday afternoon, 25-19, 25-17, 25-16. The Gamecocks wrap up their home Carolina Classic tournament with a perfect 3-0 record, losing just one set on the weekend.
Ellie Ruprich led the team with nine kills on just 13 attacks. The team's five other hitters who saw playing time finished with at least five kills apiece and the offense out-hit Winthrop .341 to .140 in the match.
"That's a dream as a setter to have all six hitters ready to go and hit really well," said graduate student Dalaney Hans, who completed her first games with the team after transferring in over the summer. "Claire (Wilson) and I love playing with all these hitters. They're aggressive, they're passionate and they're ready to communicate ... as a setter, it's so much fun having three girls across the net ready to hit and ready to attack."
1st SET: Ruprich set the tone early and often in the opening game, recording five kills on seven swings while adding two blocks in the team's 25-19 win. Kiune Fletcher also had an efficient game, putting away three kills on four chances, and the duo of Lauren McCutcheon and McKenzie Moorman also hit home three kills.
2nd SET: South Carolina's offense enjoyed its best game of the day in the second set, hitting .519 with 16 kills on the way to a 25-17 victory. After a slow start at the net in the first, Riley Whitesides came out and let the Gamecocks with five kills in the second. Five different hitters posted at least two kills in the game, that group totaled 15 kills with just one error.
3rd SET: The Gamecocks wrapped up the sweep with a steady performance in the third, taking advantage of 10 unforced errors by Winthrop to finish up with a 25-16 score. Fletcher took her turn as the team's offensive leader, adding three more kills on just five swings. The set was tight early, but Camilla Covas sparked the team with a 6-0 run behind the service line that broke the game open from a 12-all tie.
Head Coach Tom Mendoza on the environment in the gym all weekend "I'm partial, but I think that it's best atmosphere anywhere we can play, we're very fortunate to call it our home gym and we're working to build it. Season tickets are up, VIP season tickets are up, everything is up. So it's really exciting and we're very fortunate to have it. We don't take it for granted and we want to make sure that we're giving all those fans a lot to cheer for playing in a way that represents the athletic department and Gamecock fans as a whole."
A tour of the ACC awaits the team now, starting with a trip north next weekend. The Gamecocks play at North Carolina on Friday, Sept. 2 at 6:30, then travel to Wake Forest for a 7 p.m. match against the Deacons on Saturday. Wrapping up the stretch is a match at Clemson on Tuesday, Sept. 6 at 7 p.m.