BUIES CREEK — Mary Tendler tried to make adjustments.
She used each of her timeouts in all three sets. She tried switching up the blocking scheme and rotating players in and out.
But every time, the University of South Carolina had an answer.
“Whatever adjustments we made, they countered really quickly,” Tendler said.
South Carolina attacked at a .320 clip (40 kills, nine errors, 97 attempts), keeping Elon’s defense off-balanced most of the morning.
“We struggled off the bat defending their outside set,” Tendler said. “Our block was too far in, so we tried to adjust and move our block out to the pin more. When we did that, they started to hit cross court to open areas.”
Sophomore outside hitter Koko Atoa-Williams led South Carolina with 11 kills, while freshman outside hitter Taylr McNeil had 10. Ten different Gamecocks players recorded a kill.
Freshman Allie Monserez had 25 assists, while senior libero Mikaela Christiaansen had 13 digs.
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South Carolina hit .500 with just one error in the first set. A fire-powered offense carried the Gamecocks to a 7-1 lead which forced an initial Elon timeout.
The next Phoenix timeout was used with South Carolina leading 12-2. The lead grew as large as 13, also the final margin.
“They played well,” Elon junior setter Ana Nicksic said. “It was kind of our errors we had to worry about more, and that’s what’s so frustrating. It’s plays we knew we could have made, and they did a great job of taking advantage of our errors.”
Elon took a 3-1 lead in the second set after a kill from senior outside hitter Danielle Smith and two South Carolina attack errors. After a kill by freshman outside hitter Sydney Busa put Elon up 4-2, the Gamecocks went on a 6-1 run that forced another Elon timeout.
After that, South Carolina kept pouring it on. Elon did have a 4-0 run while South Carolina had set point, sparked by two kills from freshman middle blocker Michelle Klein, but the Gamecocks closed it out.
“They kept it really clean,” Klein said. “They seemed to be placing a lot of balls in places we weren’t positioned, and a lot of our errors got exploited.”
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South Carolina went up 4-0 to start the third on three Elon attack errors. That lead quickly grew to 16-5 and stayed till the end.
Busa led Elon with seven kills. Smith had six kills and no errors for a .353 attack percentage. Nicksic tallied 18 assists, while sophomore libero Morgan Maner and sophomore outside hitter Kayla Agae had 13 and 12 digs, respectively.
South Carolina is the third power-five conference team Elon has played this year. The Phoenix lost in four sets to the University of Maryland on Aug. 29 and in three sets to No. 7 Purdue University on Sept. 6.
“I wish we were able to take them to four and compete with them a little more,” Nicksic said.
• Elon dropped its opener of the tournament 3-2 to the University of North Florida on Friday. The Phoenix took the first set, dropped the next two before forcing a decisive fifth set.
There, North Florida jumped out to a 10-5 lead before Agae cut it to 10-7 with a pair of kills. But the Ospreys finished on a 5-2 run to wrap up the match.