Test ends the Saturday-Sunday non-conference event outside the nation’s capital
COLUMBIA, S.C. Aug. 31, 2012 – The South Carolina volleyball team goes to the road for the first time in 2012, taking on the field in The Mason Inn Patriot Invitational at George Mason.
Volleyball at The Mason Inn Patriot Invitational
Sept. 1 vs. West Virginia – 1 p.m.
Sept. 1 at George Mason – 7 p.m.
Sept. 2 vs. Navy – 11 a.m.
Sept. 2 vs. Niagara – 3 p.m.
Tournament Central (for live stats and live video)
South Carolina takes a 4-0 record into the Beltway after claiming the 2012 Gamecock Invitational title. Junior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin will lead the Gamecocks against West Virginia, George Mason, Navy and Niagara with her all-around game. Thévenin tops South Carolina with 3.64 kills per set, stands second with 0.29 aces per set and is tied for third with 2.14 digs per frame. Sophomore outside hitter Bethanie Thomas stands just behind Thévenin in kills at 2.50 while ranking second in digs with a 2.50 average. Senior setter Taylor Bruns strengthens the serving and defensive game as well, leading the team with 0.36 aces per set while tying for third with 2.14 digs per frame.
Friday’s first match in the event comes against West Virginia, which went 2-1 in its home tournament to open 2012. Only two players who saw time for the 7-19 2011 team took the court for third-year head coach Jill Kramer. Evyn McCoy returns as the top middle blocker for the Mountaineers, posting 0.90 blocks a set a season ago. And Liz Gulick has inherited the libero role, posting 3.27 digs per frame in three matches thus far. Hannah Sackett led WVU with 4.91 kills per set and ranked second on the team with a .371 hitting percentage.
The host Patriots return four starters from a squad that went 7-19 under 27-year head coach Pat Kendrick. George Mason brings a 1-2 record into the weekend, beating Maryland-Baltimore County in five sets on Tuesday night. Lolade Owokoniran holds a 1.27 blocks average entering the tournament, while Laura Spencer has 2.82 kills and 3.09 digs per set, first and second on the team, respectively.
Navy is South Carolina’s first opponent on Sunday, and the Mids hold a 1-2 record in 2012. Three starters return from last year’s 6-23 team for head coach Larry Bock, including leading attacker Carolyn Ewert, who posted a 2.83 kills average in the first weekend of action. Erin Fortner and Alex Cassel are anchoring the middle, posting 1.12 and 0.82 blocks per set, respectively.
Last year’s Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champs Niagara returns three starters, who ranked second, third and fourth in kills, from the squad that went 25-9 in 2011 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight year. Kari Honomichi leads the team with 4.27 kills per set and stands second with 3.09 digs per frame, while Ellen Senf and Amanda Wilkin hold kill averages of 3.18 and 2.36, respectively. Wilken leads the front line defense with 0.64 blocks per set. Allison Reis averaged 6.45 digs per set during the LaSalle Invitational.
South Carolina holds a 4-1 advantage in meetings against the Mountaineers, though West Virginia did win the last meeting on Sept. 10, 1988. The Gamecocks claimed the only previous meeting against the Patriots, a sweep on Sept. 19, 1997. These will be the first meetings in history for South Carolina against both of its Sunday opponents.
George Mason is providing free live stats and a pay live video stream on its website, GoMason.com.