Thévenin with 14 kills, Howley posts 11 with a season high-matching .526 hitting percentage
GAINESVILLE, Fla. Nov. 18, 2012 – Despite standout performances from junior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin and redshirt sophomore middle blocker Cara Howley, South Carolina dropped a three-set decision at No. 16 Florida 19-25, 14-25, 19-25, on Sunday afternoon at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.
Thévenin posted 14 kills and a .343 hitting percentage for the Gamecocks (17-14, 5-14 SEC), while Howley tied her season best with a .526 hitting percentage, compiling 11 kills. Senior setter Taylor Bruns tallied a double-double with 31 assists and 12 digs, while junior libero Paige Wheeler compiled 10 digs. Freshman outside hitter Jenna Allen had five kills and two block assists.
Ziva Recek led all players with 17 kills and added 10 digs for Florida (23-4, 17-1 SEC), and Chloe Mann contributed 12 kills on a .524 hitting percentage. Seniors Betsy Smith and Tangerine Wiggs, honored along with Sundai Weston in pregame ceremonies, had 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Taylor Brauneis had 50 assists and two block assists, while Taylor Unroe compiled 14 digs. Holly Pole also had 10 digs.
South Carolina hung close with Florida in the first, but the Gators took the frame 25-19. The Gamecocks responded to a 10-3 Florida lead with a three-point stand, punctuated by sophomore outside hitter Bethanie Thomas’s solo block, to draw within four. Another three-point run drew the Gamecocks to within three at 17-14, as Thévenin started the stretch with two kills. Florida responded with a four-point skein to retake control. South Carolina fought off three set points, getting kills from Howley and Thévenin in the string. But the Gators ended it with a block from Mann and Recek. Howley had six kills and hit .556 in the first, while Recek matched her with six kills.
The teams traded points early in the second set, but the Gators pulled away win the 25-14 win in the second set. Two five-point runs by Florida put the frame out of reach, as the Gators hit .600 in the set. The Gamecocks hit well too with only two errors, but Florida did not let the Gamecocks sustain a run, getting a side out at every chance. Mann had six kills in the frame for the Gators.
Florida broke away late in the third to wrap the match in three 25-19. The Gamecocks led at 8-7 after a pair of Gator errors, but Florida took nine of the next 12 points to grab control 16-11. Wiggs closed the match with her 10th kills of the contest. The Gators posted 21 kills in the final frame.
South Carolina lost its first match in 2012 when winning the blocking battle, posting four to Florida’s two. The Gators won the rest of the statistical categories, despite the Gamecocks hitting .269, its highest mark in a loss this season. The victory clinched an outright SEC title for the Gators.
The Gamecocks close the 2012 regular season on Friday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. EST against Arkansas. South Carolina will honor the 2012 senior class of Taylor Bruns and Christina Glover in a post-match presentation.