"We made way too many mistakes tonight to be competitive on the road against a talented South Carolina team," said coach Tina Seals. "We were never able to get our offense on track for very long."
South Carolina took the fight to MSU in the opening stanza, racing to a 6-1 lead and never trailing in a 30-19 win. The Gamecocks hit at a crisp .393 clip but also scored 14 points off MSU miscues -- 10 hitting errors and four service errors.
State's offensive woes continued in the early going of game two when USC jumped out to a 4-1 advantage. But the Bulldogs warmed up on the strength of a six-kill game by Eva Kriegel and evened the match with a 30-23 win. Rachel Cooper had three kills during a crucial 6-0 MSU run that gave State a 21-16 lead in the game.
State had a similar lead late in the game three and was poised to take the lead in the match. A kill by Cristina Jucan, her fourth of the game, gave MSU a 25-21 advantage. But USC battled back, reeling off five straight points to take the lead and taking advantage of Bulldog passing woes to claim a 30-27 win.
The Bulldogs fell out of contention early in the deciding fourth game, trailing 10-4 out of the gate. State closed the gap to three points at 14-11 before USC regained control and went on to put the match away with a 30-20 win.
Rachel Cooper notched fifth double-double of the season, registering a match-high 17 kills and 12 digs. Orshi Kriegel had 14 kills and Eva Kriegel 10 along with 31 assists. Megan Lukasek led MSU on defense with 18 digs.
USC got 13 kills from Iris Santos and 11 kills each by Lauren Ford and Shonda Cole. Nicole Miller was impressive at the net, delivering nine total blocks and helping USC take a 15-7 lead in total team blocks.
The Bulldogs continue their SEC weekend road run in Knoxville, Tenn., Sunday, taking on defending SEC champ Tennessee in a 12:30 p.m. (CDT) match at Stokely Athletics Center.
SOUTH CAROLINA 3, MSU 1
MSU 19 30 27 20
USC 30 23 30 30