Christina Glover and Taylor Bruns lead the way on Senior Day
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Sending 2012 seniors Taylor Bruns and Christina Glover out in style, South Carolina (18-14, 6-14 SEC) outlasted Arkansas in a five-set win, taking the sets 24-26, 25-18, 26-28, 19-25, 15-10 on Friday afternoon at the Volleyball Competition Facility.
Bruns posted 52 assists, four kills, two aces and seven digs in the victory, guiding the team to a .357 hitting percentage in the contest, the highest in program history in a five-set affair. Glover added a career-high three aces, one-third of the team’s total, and seven digs in her final match in the Garnet and Black.
Junior outside hitter Juliette Thévenin led all players with 26 kills, one under her career high, while hitting .388 in the contest. Sophomore outside hitter Bethanie Thomas posted a double-double with 11 kills and 10 digs, while redshirt sophomore middle blocker Cara Howley hit a season-high .571 with 15 kills and led the Gamecocks with three blocks to contribute to the win. Junior libero Paige Wheeler tallied 12 digs, while freshman outside hitter Jenna Allen added eight kills.
Jasmine Norton led Arkansas (22-9, 13-7 SEC) with 18 kills, while Liz Fortado and Roslandy Acosta both added 13. Amanda Anderson hit .500 and tallied 11 kills. Raymariely Santos had 54 assists, five kills, two aces and eight digs. Emily Helm added 13 digs, while Fortado and Janeliss Torres-Lopez both had four block assists.
The Gameocks came back from a six-point deficit in the first to force the extra points. Falling back 18-12, the Gamecocks posted a five-point run on Glover’s serve, including one of her aces, to draw within one. Howley had two kills and a solo block in the sequence as well. A 5-1 skein handed South Carolina the lead at 22-21, as a Thévenin kill ended that run. But the Razorbacks came back to take the set, getting kills from Anderson and Santos to cap it at 26-24. Thévenin had five kills in the first frame, but Norton matched her with five as well.
Two late runs helped South Carolina to a 25-18 set-two win. Up by one, the Gamecocks ripped off a four-point string thanks to two Glover aces to make it 19-14. After a three-point Razorback run, the Gamecocks responded with a five-point skein to get to set point. Thomas had an ace during the stretch to push the Gamecocks to the brink. Thévenin ended things with her sixth kill of the frame. Both Thomas and Wheeler had five digs in the second.
A close third set went South Carolina’s way, 28-26. The Gamecocks got to set point after a Razorback attack error, but Arkansas came back with four-straight points to tied the match at 24-24. Norton had two kills in the stretch. After Thévenin and Norton traded kills twice, Thomas landed one to give the Gamecocks their seventh set-point opportunity. A strong serve by Wheeler led to an Arkansas overpass that Howley put away to close the set at 28-26. Thévenin had seven kills, while Howley and Thomas both had four without an error on five swings in the third.
The fourth went to Arkansas, 25-19. A five-point run, powered by two Ashley Vazquez aces, gave the Razorbacks a 15-12 lead that they would never relinquish. Acosta had five kills on five chances in the frame to lead Arkansas.
The Gamecocks ran out to a 5-0 lead in the fifth thanks to a Thomas ace and two kills from Thévenin. Arkansas got within three twice, but a consecutive kills by Allen stopped the first comeback try. South Carolina responded to the second comeback attempt with a three-point stand, led by a Howley kill and a block by Howley and Thomas. Thomas ended the match with her 11th kill of the day. Thévenin had four kills in the final stanza.
South Carolina won the hitting percentage (.357-.322) and ace battle (9-8), while Arkansas won the rest. Thévenin pushed her way into eighth place in Gamecock history in kills, ending the year with 1,124, while Wheeler became the ninth Gamecock to tally 1,000 digs, now with 1,001 career scoops. Bruns finished her career with 2,858 assists, sixth in program history. Bruns and Glover as well as manager Brandi Byers were honored in a post-match ceremony.
The Gamecocks, under second-year head coach Scott Swanson, posted the second winning season in a decade at South Carolina.