CLEMSON, S.C. – The Clemson volleyball team, like so many others, has endured countless challenges and changes since the last “regular season” in the fall of 2019. Returning to a somewhat normal schedule in 2021 after the 2020 season was split between the fall and spring terms, the Tigers entered this past fall with an Own Today mindset – ready to approach every day with gratitude, grit and grace.
Snapshot of 2021 by the Numbers
During the 2021 campaign, Clemson posted a perfect 8-0 record inside Jervey Gym against non-conference opponents. This included winning both home tournaments, the Clemson Invitational and Big Orange Bash, and three additional matches against Gardner-Webb, Georgia State and Southern Miss. In these eight matches, Clemson tallied a 24-3 set record and hit .293 averaging 14.85 kills per set while limiting opponents to hit .147.
Under the direction of new head coach Jackie Simpson-Kirr, Clemson posted a 10-3 record to begin the season. This includes eight non-conference wins and two ACC victories. Kirr picked up her first win at the helm of the program in the season debut with a 3-0 victory against Samford on Aug. 28. Kirr continued to roll earning her first win in ACC play in her conference opener on the road at Virginia Tech on Sept. 24 followed by a victory at Wake Forest on Sept. 26.
In Clemson’s victories this season, the team combined to hit .270 while limiting opponents to .160. The Tigers finished with 620 kills in those matches contributing to the 1,339-season kill total. Leading the charge for Clemson were graduate transfer Kaylee Martin and sophomore Camryn Hannah who tallied 3.20 k/s and 3.11 k/s, respectively. Junior Ani Clark hit a team-high .317 on the year and .337 in matches that Clemson won.
As a team, the Tigers best outing of the year came against UNC Asheville when the team combined to hit .396 behind a 50-kill performance off 101 attacks with only 10 errors en route to a 3-0 victory. The team hit above .300 on five different occasions, including the UNC Asheville match.
Through the 30 matches played, Clemson finished with 43 double-digit kill performances. These 43 performances were spread among six players, including 20 from Kaylee Martin. Martin finished with 336 kills on the season to lead the Tigers and recorded a season-high 23 on Oct. 31 against North Carolina.
Other top performers included Camryn Hannah who finished with double-digit kills in 11 matches, including a season-high 20 kills on Sept. 26 at Wake Forest. Cate Long (seven), Ani Clark (three), Colleen Finney (one) and Azyah Dailey (one) each picked up the other double-digit performances.
The Clemson volleyball team combined for 1,425 digs on the year. Freshman Devan Taylor led the campaign with 348 digs (3.48 D/S). Sophomore Anna Renwick added 220 digs throughout the course of the season, while Mckenna Slavik tabbed 205. Cate Long (198), Camryn Hannah (160) and Kaylee Martin (103) rounded out the group above 100, and senior Crystal Childs finished with 68.
The Tigers finished the season with 13-individual double-double performances from four different players. Junior setter Mckenna Slavik finished with the most posting five, all of which were from double-digit digs and assists. Cate Long and Camryn Hannah followed with three double-doubles, all being kills and digs. Kaylee Martin finished with two.
The blocking duo of Ava Pritchard and Ani Clark combined for 49 percent of Clemson’s total blocks this season. Pritchard, who has led Clemson each of her four years with the program, finished with 17 solo and 66 assisted for a total of 83 blocks (0.95 per set) in 2021. Clark recorded 16 solo and 59 assisted for a total of 75 blocks this season. Clark was the lone Tiger to hit double-digit blocks in a single match finishing with 10 against North Carolina. Combined, the two hold 95.5 of the Tiger’s 195.0 blocks.
Clemson has a bright future under the direction of Kirr, associate head coach Taylor Unroe and assistant coach Maddie Haggerty. With only three Tigers graduating (Crystal Childs, Kaylee Martin and Ava Pritchard) and four of the six starters from 2021 plus the libero returning, the coaching staff is looking to build upon the progress that was made in the 2021 season during the upcoming offseason. This includes adding Kirr’s first signing class as head coach of Clemson, which will be announced at a later date.
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