CLEMSON, S.C. – Junior Azyah Dailey led the Tigers with a career-tying 15 kills and 17 points, and freshman Kennedy Wagner finished with 10 kills and 15 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Tigers fell to North Carolina in five (22-25, 25-18, 18-25, 25-20, 15-8). On the defensive end, Mckenna Slavik (18), Devan Taylor (15) and McKenna Gildon (11) all tallied double-digit digs for Clemson. As a team, Clemson finished with eight aces and 11 blocks as the Tigers moved to 12-9 (3-6 ACC) in 2023.
After getting behind in the opening set, Clemson powered back with a 12-1 scoring run to take a 15-10 advantage that included two aces from graduate Adria Powell, a solo block from Wagner, and kills from Mia McGrath and Mckenna Slavik. Clemson racked up four aces in the first set contributed by Powell, Wagner and Devan Taylor, as well as three blocks with both Wagner and Powell having a solo block and the duo combining for the third. Despite leading the two teams in both aces and blocks, Clemson dropped the opening set, 25-22.
The Tigers responded in the second with a .308 hitting percentage as Dailey led the push going 4-for-7, and McGrath went 4-for-8. On top of Clemson’s offense getting into system, the defense finished with 10 digs in the second, led by Slavik and Taylor adding three each. Wagner also tabbed her second ace of the match, and Slavik had one of her own to carry Clemson to a 25-18.
Dailey added another three kills in the third set, followed by Kate Simington and Katie Hurta having two each. Powell added a solo block, and Dailey and Simington combined on one to bring Clemson’s total to six through three sets. Additionally, Clemson’s defense had 17 digs behind a combined effort of six from Slavik, four from Taylor and three from McKenna Gildon, but it wasn’t enough as the Tar Heels took the set, 25-18.
Clemson bounced back to force a deciding set after hitting .250 in the fourth led by Dailey and Wagner each tallying five kills. With a strong offensive attack, Clemson matched it with three blocks defensively as the combination of Dailey, Powell and Simington stopped things at the net. Aided additionally by the third aces of the match by Wagner and Powell, Clemson took set four, 25-20.
Going to a fifth set for the sixth time in 2023, the Tigers had their work cut out for them. The set started with both sides being neck-and-neck at 5-points each through the first 10 points, but the Tar Heels pulled ahead on a 6-0 scoring run. Powell attempted to keep Clemson in the match with a kill and a block, but it wasn’t enough as North Carolina took the set, 15-8, and the match.
In addition to Dailey and Wagner, McGrath clocked eight kills. Powell tied her season high by finishing with eight blocks (two solo, six assisted), and Dailey added four, while Wagner tied her season-high with three. Slavik rounded out the stat leaders with 39 assists to post her eighth double-double of the year.
The Tigers continue weekend action on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. on ACCNX when they welcome Duke to Jervey Gym.