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Exclusive: Competitive environment has Tigers prepped for new year

Exclusive: Competitive environment has Tigers prepped for new year

CLEMSON – In the third set of Friday’s Orange and White scrimmage, the White’s Sandra Adeleye rushed the net and knocked the volleyball gingerly over. Mo Simmons, who was playing outside hitter on the Orange team, immediately disputed the official’s call.

“She hit the net,” Simmons said to the official.

When Adeleye came in position, Simmons pointed to her and said, “You know you hit that net.” Adeleye simply smiled with a sarcastic grin.

“You should be in practice every day because that’s what it is like in practice,” Clemson Head Coach Jolene Hoover said. “We always talk to them about playing like you practice and practice like you play. We tried to keep it seamless and keep it the same if you can. How hard you work in practice is going to show up.

“But those two are pretty competitive day in and day out. They are awesome.”

The competitiveness between the Tigers two top starters seems to be trickling down to their teammates, which showed in the Orange’s 2-1 win over the White at Jervey Gymnasium.

“This is an awesome group,” Hoover said. “This is one of my favorite teams in the 20 years I have been here. They have narrowly missed some of their goals in the last few years so I think they have a sense of urgency about it and commitment to it.

“It’s not like they are panicking or anything, but it is a good sense of urgency, a commitment to it. I think they are on a mission.”

That mission is to win an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship. Clemson was picked third by the ACC Coaches in the preseason poll released Friday, with Florida State and North Carolina voted ahead of the Tigers.

The third-place pick was Clemson’s highest predicted finish since the 2008 season, in which Clemson finished 23-10 overall and 14-6 in the ACC, while advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The Tigers were picked to finish fourth in 2007, the season in which the y went 29-4 and 21-1 in the ACC, winning the league title.

“We are going with the approach of taking it game-by-game,” Simmons said. “But when we get our foot in the door, we are going to open it up. We are ready to compete with anybody that’s out there. We know who our top teams to beat.

“We need to win road games like at NC State and all of that. We know who we need to beat and that’s who we are going after. We will bring our ‘A’ game to every game.”

Clemson will also bring its A-Team. The Tigers return all of their starters from a season ago, in which they went 20-11 and 12-8 in ACC play.”I think since we barely missed (the NCAA Tournament) last year, I think we have a great chance of making it in and hopefully being at the top of the ACC this year,” Adeleye said.

Clemson will open the 2012 season this coming weekend as it hosts the Big Orange Bash at Jervey Gymnasium. The Tigers will host Coastal Carolina at 7 p.m. on Friday before playing S.C. State at noon on Saturday and Xavier later that evening at six o’clock.

“This is such a veteran team,” Adeleye said. “This is our fourth preseason. We really wanted to focus on the little things in this preseason and make sure we know how to finish games. We have been scrimmaging a lot and have pushed through.

“We know what it takes to be successful and we are working hard to make sure we will be.”

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