COLUMBIA, S.C. – Trailing the match 2-1, Alabama volleyball had set point in the fourth set over South Carolina but the Gamecocks rallied to claim the hard-fought four set victory over the Crimson Tide.
Alabama (17-12, 5-10 SEC) won the opening set, 25-20, before dropping the next two to South Carolina (12-15, 5-10 SEC) 22-25 and 23-25, respectively. Needing a win in the fourth to stay alive, the Tide reached set point at 24-20 but the Gamecocks rallied to score six unanswered and win the frame, 24-26, and claim the four-set victory.
Alabama had four players with double-digit kills, led by sophomore Hayley McSparin with 16, her second-highest total in SEC play. She also led the team with six blocks, a season-best in conference play for McSparin. Freshman setter Meghan Neelon notched her 12th double-double of the season, finishing with 49 assists and 12 digs.
Leading 4-2 early in set one, sophomore Ginger Perinar quickly set a career high for service aces on consecutive rallies, scoring three in a row to put Alabama up 7-2 and South Carolina took a timeout. The Gamecocks scored four straight after the break to draw within one point but the Tide broke the streak and used a 5-2 run to build a four-point lead at the halfway mark, 12-8. Alabama maintained the four-point lead and a South Carolina attack error made it a five-point game, 22-17, as the Gamecocks burned its second timeout. Alabama then scored back-to-back points to reach set point, 24-17, and after three points from South Carolina a kill up the middle from McSparin gave the Tide the 25-20 win.
Alabama scored the first point in set two but South Carolina responded with six unanswered to take its first lead of the match, 6-1, before the Tide looked to halt the momentum with a timeout. The Gamecocks continued its run with three more points after the break before a kill from senior Abolanle Onipede broke the streak with the score now 9-2. Later trailing 15-6, Alabama started to close the gap with a 4-0 run to make it 15-10 and South Carolina called its first team timeout. The Tide would draw as close as one point but the Gamecocks would hold on to win, 25-22, and even the match at 1-1.
Tied at 1-1 in set three, a pair of kills and a solo block from McSparin gave the Tide a 4-1 lead. South Carolina would tie the score five more times before taking its first lead of the frame, 13-12, but Alabama would quickly jump back ahead with three straight points to make it 15-13. Later, three-straight points from the Gamecocks would give the home team its second lead of the set, 21-20, and the Tide spent its first team timeout. Alabama took its second timeout soon after, trailing 23-21, and South Carolina would eventually win set three, 25-23, and take a 2-1 match lead.
Alabama held the early momentum in set four, building a four-point lead at 8-4 and maintaining it until the halfway mark as South Carolina called a timeout with the Tide up 12-8. The Gamecocks slowly fought back, eventually drawing within one before Alabama was forced to take a timeout with the score now 16-15. South Carolina would take its first lead at 17-16 but Alabama would pull back in front at the 20-point mark, eventually moving up 21-19 on a kill from Neelon before the Gamecocks called a timeout. Alabama reached set point, 24-20, but South Carolina scored three straight to make it a one-point game before the Tide had to take a timeout. The Gamecocks would continue on to score three more unanswered points to win the set, 26-24, and the match, 3-1.
Next, Alabama returns home to host LSU (18-7, 9-5 SEC) on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 3 p.m. CT.