Gamecocks drop match against Bama

South Carolina's volleyball team got off to a great start Friday night. After winning the first set 25-17, Carolina dropped the second set by the same score, and saw a large lead in the third set fall by the wayside as Bama won the last three sets to take the match from the Gamecocks.

It felt as if the monkey was finally going to fall off the back of the South Carolina volleyball team. Carolina entered Friday night's match with Alabama on a six game losing streak after winning the first 13 games of the season. Carolina came out with a high energy level in the first set and took the first set easily, but it was all Alabama from there as they took the next three sets to win the match 3-1.

Juliette Thévenin led the scoring attack with 19 kills and one block for a 20-point night, Bethanie Thomas was right behind with 14 kills for 14 points. Cara Howley finished will 11.5 points, and Taylor Bruns finished with 10 to lead the Gamecocks. Darian Dozier was credited with three blocks and Bruns had 2.

South Carolina came out in the first set like a team that was determined to end the losing streak. They were highly energized and went right at the Crimson Tide. Paige Wheeler had nine digs, Howley and Thévenin each had five kills in the set, and Dozier had two blocks. Carolina took the lead early, 5-4 on a kill by Christina Vereb and would not trail the rest of the way. Bama would hang close most of the set, trailing 19-15 late. Carolina would answer by scoring six of the last eight points of the frame for a 25-17 win. It was the first match that Carolina took the first set since its 3-1 loss to Auburn that began the losing streak.

Alabama would completely flip the script in the second set. After making multiple errors in the first set, the Crimson Tide put pressure on Carolina and the Gamecocks did not respond well. After a Thévenin kill tied the set at 12-12, Bama scored seven of the next eight points to lead 19-13. Consecutive kills by Thomas and Bruns would trim the lead to 19-15, but Bama would pull away in the end to win the set 25-17.

Carolina came back out in the third set with the same energy they had in the first to jump all over Alabama early on. The Gamecocks jumped out to a 13-7 lead, but the Crimson Tide came storming back with six unanswered to tie the set. Carolina would either hang on to a small lead or the set was tied most of the remainder of the set. Carolina led 23-21 late on a Thévenin kill, but couldn't hang on. Bama would score the next three points to take a 24-23 lead and would win the set 26-24 to take a 2-1 lead in the match, taking a lot of the air out of the crowd in the process.

Much like the third set, Carolina led early, but Bama stayed within striking distance. A Howley kill gave Carolina a 12-10 lead, but Bama would come right back and slowly build a 19-16 lead that would prove to be insurmountable for the Gamecocks. Bama held a 24-20 lead and Carolina was able to get two points back, but would not be enough as Bama took a 25-22 win in the final set to win the match 3-1.

With the loss, South Carolina falls to 13-7 on the season and 2-7 in SEC play. Alabama improves to 14-6 overall and 3-5 in SEC play. South Carolina will play its final non-conference game of the season Tuesday night when they travel to Myrtle Beach to take on Coastal Carolina. South Carolina has won all 10 matches in the series history. They return to conference play next weekend when they take to the road to take on the Mississippi schools. They will face Mississippi State, 4-12 (0-7) on Friday and travel to Oxford next Sunday to take on the Rebels, 8-8 (2-5). The next home match is scheduled for October 26th when they host Auburn.

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