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Clemson Volleyball Drops Five-Set Thriller to #17 Michigan State

Sept. 18, 2009

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CLEMSON, SC – For more than two hours, the Clemson volleyball team fought tooth and nail with the 17th-ranked Michigan State Spartans, eventually falling in five sets. The Spartans (11-0) gave the Tigers (8-3) an excellent match-up with each set score falling within three points (23-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-22, 12-15). The crowd of 1,304 was the second-largest of the season in Jervey Gymnasium.

Lia Proctor led the Tigers with a game-high 18 kills. She entered the match as the ACC’s kills/set leader. The Tigers recorded 16.0 blocks, with Sandra Adeleye leading the way with eight. The nation’s tenth best blocker, Alexa Rand, had seven in the match, and 17 overall on the day, averaging 2.13/set in the doubleheader. The nightcap loss was Clemson’s only loss of the season when playing two matches on one day. The Tigers held Michigan State to a .211 hitting average, more than .100 below their season average, which is ranked fifth nationally.

Jessica Williams had a career-high 15 kills to go with 11 digs, and Kelsey Murphy had 41 assists, leaving her 41 shy of second in Clemson history, which she will likely attain sometime in the next two matches. Murphy led Clemson to a .219 mark, while also registering 12 digs.

In the first set, Michigan St. jumped to a 10-4 lead. Clemson rallied with a 5-0 run to make the score 10-9. Then, both teams went back and forth until the Tigers took a 22-19 lead. However, Michigan State responded 6-1 run, closing out the tight first set, 25-23.

In the second set, Clemson raced out to a 17-9 edge, as Kelsey Murphy found five different attackers for kills. The Spartans wouldn’t go down quietly, pulling to with 24-22 before a Natalie Patzin kill finally evened up the match.

The third set was a mirror image of the second with the Spartans jumping out to a 17-10 lead. Clemson responded with 9-3 run to pull within one point at 20-19. Howver Michigan State rattled off three straight points and four of five to take a 24-20 lead. Jessica Williams and Natalie Patzin added kills as the Tigers pulled to 24-23, but a Vanessa King Kill sealed the set for the Spartans, 25-23.

The fourth set was a see-saw affair. Clemson held an early 9-4 edge, but Michigan State would eventually tie the set at 15. The teams traded points all the way to 21-20, before Clemson notched three points on two Proctor kills. A Kill by Williams again evened the match a two apiece.

The fifth set was as strange as it was intense. Each team recorded 6-0 runs, with Clemson’s putting them on top, 11-10. However, two Becca Zlabis kills sparked a 5-1 run to close the match, which ended on a Clemson net violation.

The Tigers return to action on Saturday morning against Furman at 10:00am. Presbyterian College will play Michigan State to close the Clemson Classic at noon. The Tigers begin ACC play next week when they welcome in NC State and North Carolina.