CINCINNATI, OHIO – A historic night for South Carolina volleyball’s defense spurred the team to a comeback win on the road at Cincinnati Friday. The Gamecocks (5-1) ran their win streak to five games, erasing a 2-0 set lead for the Bearcats (5-2) thanks to 21 total blocks. Junior Oby Anadi broke the modern scoring era record for individual blocks in a match, finishing the night with 15, and senior Riley Whitesides led the offense with 17 kills on a .333 hitting percentage.
1st SET: Two key runs for Cincinnati to start and end the set made all the difference as the home team opened with a 25-23 win. The Bearcats jumped out to a 6-2 lead to start the match, but were quickly answered by a 7-2 run for Carolina for its first lead of the game. The two sides played point-for-point for the mid-game, but Cincinnati made its second move to break out of a tight score in the 20s.
Leading 21-20, the Bearcats used a pair of blocks to score three unanswered and set up multiple set-point opportunities. Three blocks for Carolina threatened to extend the match, but Cincinnati was able to side out and end the game. Riley Whitesides led the offense with six kills on seven errorless swings.
2nd SET: The Gamecocks were efficient to start the second set, converting seven kills out of their first 12 swings to build an 11-5 lead. The offense would not keep its pace, though, recording eight more kills from there in a 27-25 loss to put Cincinnati ahead 2-0. Errors would be costly down the stretch, with nine attack and three serve errors helping the Bearcats claw back and close the game on a 9-3 run. Lauren McCutcheon and Campbell Paris combined for the team lead with four kills each, but the other four Gamecock attackers combined for just seven kills with eight errors.
3rd SET: The team leaned on senior Kiune Fletcher to come off the mat in the third. Trailing 9-5, South Carolina saw Fletcher account for five points in a 10-0 run to spark the team to a 15-9 lead. All told, Fletcher scored seven of the team’s first 15 points (three on kills, four on blocks). Cincinnati fired back with a run of its own, though, scoring the next seven unanswered to go back ahead, 16-15.
The Gamecock block came up clutch again down the stretch, starting with a 6-1 run started by a pair of blocks from Ellie Ruprich that was capped off by back-to-back service aces from Whitesides and made it a 23-19 lead for Carolina. Cincinnati made one last push and tied the score at 23, but the eighth…