South Carolina Moves to 7-0, Wins Gamecock Invite with Sweep of UNC Asheville
Freshman Bethanie Thomas named tournament MVP, Frankie Vain, Taylor Bruns join her on all-tourney team
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South
Carolina swept its way past UNC Asheville (3-4), 25-16, 25-14, 25-10,
to claim the Gamecock Invitational title on Saturday night at the
Volleyball Competition Facility. The Gamecocks move to 7-0 under
first-year head coach Scott Swanson, just the fourth time South
Carolina has been 7-0 in volleyball since entering the Southeastern
Conference in 1991, joining the 1992, 1995 and 2009 teams with that
Freshman outside hitter Bethanie Thomas claimed
tournament MVP honors after hitting .391 on the weekend with a 3.15
kills and 3.00 digs average. Junior setter Taylor Bruns (11.38 assists
per set, 18 kills) and sophomore middle blocker Frankie Vain (2.31
kills per set, .519 hitting percentage) joined her on the
all-tournament team. UNC Asheville’s Cindi Miller, Elon’s Caroline
Lemke and Davidson’s Caroline Brown also made the all-tournament team.
UNC Asheville, sophomore outside hitter Juliette Thévenin led the way
with 10 kills and nine assists, while Thomas added seven kills and a
match-high 12 digs. Sophomore libero Paige Wheeler added 10 digs.
Senior middle blocker Teresa Stenlund hit .455, tied for best among
attackers for the Gamecocks, with six kills while posting eight blocks,
a season best. Miller led the Bulldogs with 11 kills and 11 digs, while
Alex Stewart added 10 digs.
Thévenin led a balanced Gamecock
attack to a first-set win, 25-16, posting four kills in the frame. A
kill from the sophomore gave South Carolina a 10-9 lead, one they would
never relinquish, but three-consecutive aces by Vain gave the Gamecocks
some distance from the Bulldogs. From there, the Bulldogs would only
put together back-to-back points once the rest of the frame. A series
of kills from Vain, freshman outside hitter Hanna Forst and Thévenin
ended it. Thomas and Forst also had three kills in the set, while
Thomas contributed six digs.
South Carolina again worked well on
Vain’s serving to start pulling away in the second. A three-point run
on her serve gave the Gamecocks a 12-7 lead. Two more three-point
skeins stretched the lead out to 19-11, with Thévenin posting two kills
in the first of those. Carolina closed out the frame at 25-14 with
four-consecutive points, getting kills from redshirt freshman Cara
Howley and Thévenin, a solo block from Vain and a kill from freshman
setter Lexie Pawlik. Thévenin had five more kills in the set, while
Stenlund posted two kills among her four points. The Gamecocks held UNC
Asheville to a -.038 hitting percentage in the second.
Gamecock attack error started the third set, South Carolina ran away
from UNC Asheville with a seven-point stand on Bruns’ serve that
included consecutive Thomas kills. UNC Asheville could not get a run
going against the Gamecock defense, which posted 17 digs and three
blocks in the frame. Stenlund did most of the work in a five-point run
that made it 19-8 with a kill, a solo block and a block assist. A
five-point run ended it at 25-10, with Thomas posting a kill and the
final two aces and Pawlik getting credit for two kills. Thomas made
four kills in all in the third, not making an error on seven swings,
leading the Gamecocks to a .538 mark in the frame. Howley also had
three kills without an error in the frame.
South Carolina posted
season bests in aces (7) and blocks (9), dominating those two
categories while winning them all against UNC Asheville.
Gamecocks close out their 2011 non-conference schedule next weekend in
the Carolina Challenge, hosted by the College of Charleston, where
South Carolina will face in-state rivals Clemson, the host Cougars and
Winthrop during the two-day event at TD Arena.