MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Behind 11 blocks and eight aces, the Clemson Volleyball team swept Eastern Kentucky (26-24, 25-18, 25-15) in the opening round of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship on Thursday afternoon. The Tigers improve to 18-13 overall on the season with the win and earn the first postseason win for the program since 2018.
Graduate Adria Powell led the Tigers with 12 points behind an eight kill, six block (all assisted) and one ace performance. Junior Azyah Dailey followed with 9.5 points with an eight-kill and three block assist performance. Freshman Ava Hewitt rounded out the Tigers’ top scorers with a season-high 8.5 points with six kills, three block assists and one solo block.
Sophomore Mia McGrath led Clemson at the service line with three aces, while Kennedy Wagner, Becca Micelle, Devan Taylor and Mckenna Slavik rounded out the players with an ace. Slavik also contributed 29 assists, five kills and two blocks for the Tigers. Taylor rounded out the stat leaders with eight digs.
The Tigers put together an early lead after Micelle, Wagner and Slavik tallied aces in the opening frame. With a 13-5 advantage in the first, Clemson added kills from its middles, Powell and Hewitt, as well as a joint block from Hewitt and Wagner to lead 23-15. Eastern Kentucky closed the gap down to a single point, but the Tigers were able to close out the set with a kill from Dailey and a block from Powell and Slavik.
Hewitt came alive with two early kills, a block assist and a solo block to help spur the Tiger offense in the opening half of the second set. The upperclassmen showed their experience as Dailey tallied back-to-back kills, while Powell and Slavik contributed key points down the stretch. Clemson closed out the set victory with Kateryna Tkachenko and Dailey clocking multiple kills, and McGrath gave the Tigers the 2-0 advantage with an ace to cap the set.
Clemson used its first-two set wins as momentum into the third set by taking a 7-0 lead that included an ace from Taylor. The Tigers forged further ahead with a kill from Hewitt, as well as back-to-back aces from McGrath. Clemson’s lead extended to as much as eight after Powell added two more kills. Clemson had a solo block come from Slavik and an ace from Powell to move into position to take the match. The advanced to the next round after the winning point came off a kill from sophomore Sophie Catalano.
The Tigers advance to the round of 16 and continue NIVC action on Friday, Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. ET by taking on the winner between today’s Middle Tennessee vs. Ball State match.