Brit McLean spikes

Brit McLean

South Carolina volleyball (14-2, 5-1 SEC) is off to its best 16-match start since 2008 and has already matched its SEC win total from last season due in large part to the “spark” of junior transfer Brit McLean.

McLean, from Rosemount, Minn., played her first two seasons at the University of Minnesota before deciding to transfer. In her two seasons with the Golden Gophers, she played in a total of 19 sets.

McLean decided to transfer because “it just wasn’t a good fit” with Minnesota, and her decision to come to South Carolina had to meet certain requirements.

“When I decided to transfer, I was looking for a great program with a good coach and a good team and I found that exactly when I came on my visit down here,” McLean said.

McLean took her official visit to South Carolina, and then canceled other official visits because she fell in love with the team. She was not worried about newly hired head coach Tom Mendoza coming in as his track record speaks for itself.

McLean was hosted by setter Courtney Koehler and the two have formed a bond ever since.

“We were friends from the beginning,” Koehler said. “Everybody on the team has embraced our transfers, and we’re all just one unit now.”

“CK is such a burst of energy that makes everything awesome,” added McLean. McLean was a little worried about “being the new kid again” and having to start over, but she credits her teammates for making the job a lot easier.

The left-side outside hitter has already played in 56 sets for the Gamecocks and has been the epitome of consistency. She is second on the team in total kills with 160, second in kills per set with 2.86, second in total points with 182.5 and second in points per set with 3.26. McLean is also fourth on the team in hitting percentage at .240. She had 13 kills in the four-set win over Texas A&M on Sunday.

McLean credits her teammates for her success saying, “the passers make my job easier.” In addition, she knows that if she is struggling, her teammates are right there to pick her up.

“Consistent production and calmness,” Mendoza said when asked what she brings to the team. “Sometimes she’ll go through two or three swings that maybe aren’t her best, but she responds so well [from] both good and bad swings. Not just the production, but the consistent production we’ve gotten out of her and the calmness on the court, has been really valuable.”

Mendoza sees the consistency and knows that McLean is only getting better. She has worked on things such as her defense and her service, and she still has more to show.

“She’s obviously taken some big swings for us, she’s good [at] blocking outside as well,” Mendoza said. “Her role may keep expanding, and I think her best volleyball is still ahead of her.”

The Gamecocks host No. 11 Florida at 7 p.m. on Friday.