Aug. 28, 2011
CLEMSON—Locally, there has been a good deal of hype surrounding the Clemson volleyball team this summer. The Tigers made sure they proved it was justified, opening the season with a trifecta of impressive victories at the Big Orange Bash at Jervey Gym.
Friday night’s win over Loyola (Md.) was followed by back-to-back wins against Tennessee State and South Carolina State on Saturday, the perfect way to start the new year for a team that has been quietly building up expectations over the past couple of seasons.
“You really can’t be more pleased with how they have opened this weekend,” Head Coach Jolene Hoover said. “As far as the effort they’re giving and working together, it has been great.”
The Tigers were the epitome of efficiency this weekend, besting each opponent by a considerable margin in hitting percentage. It took a team effort to reach that point, of course, but Hoover specifically credited sophomore Hannah Brenner and freshman Kamryn Sherman for distributing the ball well.
“Our two setters did an amazing job this weekend,” she said. “They were very good at finding hot hitters and moving the ball around and distributing it well.”
Junior Sandra Adeleye was named the Most Valuable Player at the tournament after bursting out of the gate with an historic weekend. With only three errors in three matches, she set the tone for her team.
Hoover says that such performances usually are an indication of team focus and togetherness, and in her view, Friday’s and Saturday’s results were no different.
“She had a really great weekend, and a lot of that can be attributed to our ball handling and passing,” Hoover said. “A lot of that goes unnoticed, but it is really important. When we’re in system, our setters can find her and give her the ball.”
“It’s a good feeling to just know where everyone is going to be,” Adeleye said. “It’s really great to get to play with all of these girls for one more year. Everyone just knows where they are supposed to be.”
With no casualties to graduation after last season, it might follow that playing time would be scarce for newcomers this season. But Hoover likes what her freshman class of Sherman, Kristin Faust, and Karis Watson can bring to her unit. This weekend seemed to be a nice beginning for the trio.
“We’re so excited about returning everyone,” Hoover said. “But we also know that we have three talented freshmen on the court as well. They are doing a great job. It’s like they’re not even freshmen.”
The biggest thing Hoover can take away from a successful opening weekend is that her team showed grit, no matter the circumstances. Grit is a quality the Tigers will need as they trek down to Florida to take on top-ten programs Florida and Southern California in a tournament next week.
“I felt like we competed every ball, whether we were up or down,” Hoover said. “I felt like we didn’t lull ourselves to sleep, even when we were ahead. We just kept pressing and kept fighting for every point.”
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