Gamecocks Earned the Second Rank

COLUMBIA, S. C.-less than 24 hours away from the start of the season with a five-set upset win against No. 18 Washington State, South Carolina volleyball notched its second-ranked win in as many days with a 3-1 win against No. 23 Rice (0-2) Saturday morning (26-24, 14-25, 25-23, 25-20). The Gamecocks (2-0) were led by freshman Lauren McCutcheon’s 15 finishs, while senior Mikayla Robinson batted.348 with 12 finishs and collected her second milestone in so many games.

With her first finish of the match, Robinson recorded her 1000th career finish. She is the 16th Gamecock to reach the milestone and she joins an exclusive group of four Gamecocks in the program’s 49-year history to have 1,000 career finishs and at least 400 career blocks. The last person to achieve both was the current hall of famer Heather Larkin (1994-97).

Dating back to the start of the top-25 polls in 1982, South Carolina has defeated ranked opponents in back-to-back odds only twice; the only other time being Sept. 7 and Sept. 14 in the 2002 season. Counting last season’s two wins against ranked opponents, the Gamecocks are now 4-1 in their last five games against top-25 teams.

SET ONE: Rice finished the first set with a higher hitting percentage and five more finishs than South Carolina, but the Gamecocks were able to grind out a 26-24 win to start the game. The team took an early 8-4 lead and were able to nurse it along until after in the set, when the Owls used a 4-1 run to swing the score in their favor at 22-20. McCutcheon’s second service ace of the set marked a 4-1 run from there for Carolina, and the team was able to take the win with a block from Robinson and Riley Whitesides on the final run.

SET two: the Owls were choking on defense in set two, rallying back for a 25-14 victory that was driven by five total blocks and three aces on serve. The visitors needed only nine finishs in the set, limiting South Carolina to seven finishs versus 11 fouls.

SET three: the third set would be fiercely fought as both teams fought for the key set advantage. The two exchanged leads, but a McCutcheon-led 4-0 after made the difference in a 25-23 score. With the game tied at 19, McCutcheon chipped in a few finishs in the run that made it 23-19 and then teamed with Robinson for the game-clinching point on a block to end the set.

SET four: the Gamecock offense saved their best performance of the morning for the clinching game, hitting .441 with 20 finishs to close the match with a 25-20 victory. Carolina built a comfortable lead early and weathered a comeback attempt from Rice, when the Owls made their deficit to 22-20 before the home side scored the final three points unanswered.

Next: the opening weekend concludes with the team’s toughest test to date – a confrontation with No. 9 Pittsburgh (2-0). The Panthers defeated Rice in five sets and Washington State in four sets. First serve is scheduled for 19: 00 Saturday night, the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network+.

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