EL PASO, Texas – The Clemson Volleyball team forced a fourth set against the UTEP Miners but fell shy of completing the comeback to end its postseason run in the Great 8 of the NIVC Tournament. Clemson dropped the four set match (25-27, 17-25, 25-14, 19-25) on Wednesday evening inside Memorial Gym to end the season with an overall record of 19-14, and ties the 2018 team for the farthest the Tigers have advanced in a postseason tournament.
Highlighting the match was junior libero Devan Taylor finishing with 15 digs. With this, she moved up to seventh on Clemson’s all-time list for career digs to bring her total to 1,284 and surpass Megan McEnery (1992-95) who had 1,272 on her career.
Graduate Adria Powell led the Tigers with 17 points behind 12 kills, five blocks (one solo, four assisted) and two service aces. Kateryna Tkachenko followed with 11 kills and two block assists for 12 points, while Azyah Dailey rounded out the point leaders with eight kills and one block assist. The Tigers combined for seven service aces behind two from Powell, Taylor and McKenna Gildon. Mckenna Slavik added the final ace, as well as 32 assists and eight digs.
Gildon and Powell got the Tigers going early in the first with an ace, followed by a kill and solo block from Powell. Clemson continued to storm ahead with kills from Tkachenko and Dailey to give the Tigers a six-point advantage. The Miners attempted to push back, but an ace from Taylor kept it in Clemson’s favor with a four-point lead. UTEP found its momentum to tie things at 18-all, and both sides traded points that ultimately had UTEP taking the opening set, 27-25.
Powell continued to dominate in the second set hitting a .286 through the first two frames to lead the Tigers. She tallied two early kills to keep the score even at 6-all, but UTEP strung together multiple runs that the Tigers couldn’t keep up with. Tkachenko tried to get the momentum back in Clemson’s favor with back-to-back kills, and Ava Hewitt followed with a solo block, but it wasn’t enough as the Miners took a 2-0 lead after the second set.
Clemson responded in the third set by hitting .429 as a team and clocking four aces, including a set-point ace from Gildon to force a fourth set. The Tigers took the lead in the third early and never looked back. With kills from Tkachenko and Dailey, as well as a monster combined block from Slavik and Powell, the Tigers went on a run. Taylor picked up another ace that forced UTEP to call timeout, and Clemson went on a 6-1 run coming out of it to take the set.
The Tigers carried their set win momentum into the fourth set with early kills from Mia McGrath, Powell and Slavik. UTEP responded and was able to take a five-point lead that was maintained for most of the set, but Powell and Slavik kept things close with a kill and ace, respectively. Unfortunately, the Miners were able to string together a 6-5 run down the stretch to close out the set and match.
Clemson concludes the 2023 season with multiple highs including but not limited to: