COLUMBIA, S.C. - A historic night behind the service line guided South Carolina to a four-set win over Clemson (2-1) on Wednesday night. The Gamecocks (2-1) handed the Tigers their first loss of the fall thanks to a 13-1 advantage in service aces and 13 blocks from the defense. The win pushes South Carolina's home win streak over Clemson to its 30th year, spanning 11 games.
1st SET: The serving game disparity was evident from the jump, as South Carolina used two aces and four Tiger service errors to overcome a slow offensive start and take the opening set, 25-20. The Tigers finished with more kills (13-11) but were more inefficient than the Gamecocks, hitting just. 146 thanks to three blocks by the home side with Oby Anadi having a hand in all three. South Carolina never trailed in the set and leaned on a solid line of four kills on six swings from senior Riley Whitesides to take the 1-0 lead.
2nd SET: The Tiger offense locked in for the second set, building a big lead early before another streak behind the service line threatened to flip the score in Carolina's favor. Clemson opened up a 19-10 lead with 15 of those 19 points coming on kills alone, but the Gamecocks started creeping back and used a 12-3 run from there to ultimately tie the set at 22. In that run, three points came off service aces alone, including two from freshman Sydney Floyd. Following a block from Anadi, the Gamecocks found themselves with a set-point opportunity at 24-23, but weren't able to close out. Clemson took a 29-27 win after three unforced errors from South Carolina down the stretch.
3rd SET: In the always-crucial third set, the serve game was the x-factor for South Carolina as it moved ahead 2-1 with a 25-15 win. Combining four aces with three service errors by Clemson, the Gamecocks scored almost a third of their points behind the line. South Carolina's defense also was key, going from allowing Clemson to hit .342 in the second set to just .065 in the third, with five total blocks. On offense, Lauren McCutcheon accounted for half of the team's 10 total kills, needing just nine swings to get her five for the set.
4th SET: South Carolina closed out the win with a 25-19 win in the fourth, again having Clemson out of sorts offensively thanks to its serving game. The Tigers had a match-low eight kills and hit .032, with three block assists from Ellie Ruprich frustrating Clemson's attack when they were in-system offensively. McCutcheon cracked double-digits for kills with four more in the fourth, Ruprich also pitched in on the attack with three kills on four swings. Three more aces fell for the Gamecocks in the fourth, pushing the match total to 13 compared to just one for the Tigers.
- While the Gamecocks rebuild their win streak overall in the series, they did extend their home win streak over Clemson on Wednesday. The Tigers have not won in Columbia since 1994, a streak that now grows to 11 games in a row.
- The 13 service aces are the most in a match of any length since Sept. 26, 2010 against The Citadel. The total is one behind the record for most aces in a four-set match in the modern scoring era (since 2001), ironically against Clemson on Oct. 10, 2001 (14).
- It wasn't just aces that made the difference behind the line, it was also errors. Clemson finished with 15, compared to nine for South Carolina. Combining points scored off aces and points scored off the other team's errors on serve, the Gamecocks enjoyed a 28-10 advantage behind the line.
- Riley Whitesides spearheaded the service-line assault, picking up a career-high four aces for the night. Four different Gamecocks recorded two or more aces in the match.
- Despite adverse weather conditions, Gamecock fans still packed the gym with a total attendance of 3,293 After coming into the match ranked ninth nationally for total attendance so far this fall, the team now has seen three of the top five most well-attended matches happen in the span of six days.
- Junior middle Oby Anadi set a personal best with four solo blocks in the match, surpassing her previous high of three set last fall. The four solo blocks puts her in a three-way tie for most in a three-set match in the modern scoring era.
- Morgan Carter was stout as the team's back-line anchor, leading the team with 17 digs and also adding six assists and a service ace.
QUOTABLE: TOM MENDOZA
On the team's success on serve Friday night
"It's a dangerous game plan when we say we can disrupt their serve receive, because it tends to then just be where we just serve the ball easier, and they end up being in-system offensively the whole time. I really thought our team did a great job of putting a ton of pressure on their serve receive and that was able to score a lot of points, or give us easier transition, or some opportunities to defend and not have a lot of first-ball kills.
When we did that well, I thought we were playing at a high level. Our offense is still a work in progress. We're seeing more of how we're going to get kills and be successful offensively, it's still just a matter of taking these small steps forward and reinforcing the good stuff and trying to train out the stuff that you know isn't working at this level. I think our defense and serve allowed our offense to work itself into the game. Some good stuff from the game and some stuff on which we need to keep progressing, but for three matches in that's about where we expected to be."
South Carolina opens the month of September with another ACC foe, hosting Miami (Fla.) at 7 p.m. on Friday night. Capping the weekend will be a 1 p.m. match against Troy on Sunday, which will end the five-game season-opening homestand. Both matches will air on the SEC Network+.