COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina volleyball team claimed a hard-fought five-set win over in-state foe Coastal Carolina on Wednesday by the scores of 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 22-25 and 15-13 at the Volleyball Competition Facility.
With the win the Gamecocks improve to 12-11 on the season as they head into an off weekend from conference play. The Chanticleers fall to 13-10 overall with the loss.
Sophomore setter Kellie McNeil put together one of her best efforts of the season to help lead South Carolina to victory. A native of Eagan, Minn., McNeil came up one block shy of a triple-double as she recorded six kills while hitting .400, dished out 52 assists, tallied 12 digs and had a career-high nine blocks. Senior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin was also impressive as she finished with her seventh double-double of the season, posting 25 kills and 13 digs. Thévenin’s 26.5 points moved her to fourth on the Gamecocks’ career points list with 1,680.5.
Freshman KoKo Atoa-Williams added 11 kills, while sophomore middle blocker Darian Dozier finished with 10 kills and seven blocks. Sophomore Sarah Blomgren chipped in nine kills, and freshman middle blocker Jacqy Angermiller contributed six kills and six block assists. Freshman Gabrielle Rubeis (21), junior Michaela Christiaansen (15) and senior Lindsey Craft (12) all finished with double figures in digs.
As a team the Gamecocks held the advantage in kills (67-60), hitting percentage (.201-.193), digs (80-65) and blocks (15.0-9.0).
Sophomore middle blocker Eszter Nagy paced the Chanticleers with 17 kills while hitting .577 for the match, and senior middle blocker Kindra Bailey pitched in 10 kills and five block assists. Senior setter Lauren Alejo turned in a team-high 41 assists, while junior libero Lindsay Gill finished with a team-high 20 digs.
South Carolina had to dig out of a hole in the first set as it fell behind 14-10 and eventually trailed 21-18 late in the frame. Coming out of a timeout, the Gamecocks caught fire and outscored Coastal Carolina 7-1 down the stretch behind two kills from Thévenin and a kill apiece from Blomgren and Dozier to win the set 25-22.
The Gamecocks were unable to get into a rhythm in the second set as they hit -.114 and fell behind 17-12 midway through the frame. South Carolina was able to pull to within 22-20 after a kill by Thévenin, but the Chanticleers held on to claim a 25-22 win to even the match.
Coming out of the 10-minute break, South Carolina got off to its best start of the match, building a 13-8 lead in the third set. However, Coastal Carolina went on an 11-6 run to tie the set at 19-19 on a Lian Bernett service ace. The Gamecocks regrouped and closed out the set on a 6-2 run, including two kills by McNeil, to win 25-21 and take a 2-1 lead.
The Chanticleers never trailed in the fourth set as they built a 16-12 lead. South Carolina trimmed Coastal Carolina’s lead to 23-22 on a Chanticleer attack error, but Miona Milovanovic answered with back-to-back kills to lead Coastal Carolina to a 25-22 win to send the match to a decisive fifth set.
The teams battled back and forth in the final set, playing through 10 ties and two lead changes. With the set tied at 11-11, the Gamecocks took the lead for good on a Coastal Carolina service error on the next serve. Blomgren came up big with a pair of kills the rest of the way to lead South Carolina to a 15-13 win to clinch the match.
The Gamecocks will have the weekend off before returning to action next Friday at No. 19 Kentucky. First serve is set for 7 p.m. at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Ky.