Sept. 3, 2004
CLEMSON, SC – The Clemson volleyball team scored an early season upset as the Tigers defeated the Northern Iowa Panthers by a score of 3-1 (29-31, 30-26, 31-29, 30-27) in the evening session of day one of the Clemson Invitational. With the win, the Tigers improve to 3-0 on the season, after defeating Western Carolina by a score of 3-0. The Tigers are off to their best start since the 1999 season, when Clemson won the regular season ACC title and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. This was also the Tigers’ first win over a top-25 ranked opponent since a five-game win over then-#25 North Carolina on Oct. 22, 1999.
“What a great win for our team against a very well-respected and strong Northern Iowa team,” said Clemson head coach Jolene Jordan Hoover. “Northern Iowa served very aggressively and I was proud of the way our team responded. We’re excited to get a win against a ranked team.”
Overall, the Tigers hit .270 as a team while holding the Panthers to a .157 hitting percentage. Northern Iowa had an edge at the net with 13.5 team blocks to Clemson’s 11, and the Panthers had seven aces to the Tigers’ two. Clemson distributed the ball more effectively, with four players in double figure kills against Northern Iowa’s two double-figure kill hitters. The Tigers also had the edge in assists with 76 assists to the Panthers’ 50 assists.
Leslie Finn led all hitters with 22 kills, adding 11 digs and three block assists. Lori Ashton and Brittany Ross added 18 kills each, and Ashton hit a match-best .455. Ashton also tallied six blocks (two solo) to lead the Tigers at the net, while Meghan Steiner tallied five blocks with 10 kills. Anna Vallinch recorded 24 digs with one service ace, and Stephanie Haskell handed out 40 assists with 12 digs. Courtney Lawrence added 31 assists with two blocks.
The first game remained close, with neither team gaining more than a three-point advantage. The Tigers held a 29-27 lead, but the Panthers rallied for the final four points and a 31-29 game one victory. Leslie Finn led Clemson with eight kills, while Ashton and Ross added four kills each.
In game two, the Panthers took a 9-6 lead before Clemson scored seven consecutive points to gain an 13-9 edge. The Tigers never relinquished that lead, building to a nine-point (24-15) advantage. Clemson held on to that lead, gaining the 30-26 game two win to even the game score. Steiner tallied six kills, while Finn and Ross added four kills apiece to lead the Tigers.
Clemson jumped out to a 10-7 lead, but Northern Iowa responded with a five-point run to take a 12-10 lead. The game remained close until Clemson won six of the final eight points to capture a 31-29 game three victory. Ashton scored six kills with a solo block, which was the game winner for the Tigers. Finn and Ross each added six more kills, and Finn, Ashton and Steiner had two blocks each.
In what would prove to be the decisive game, Clemson had a 10-7 edge then blew the lead open scoring seven of the next 10 points to make the score 17-10. With Clemson leading 20-14, Northern Iowa scored nine of the next 10 points to take a 23-21 lead. The Tigers responded with a 9-4 run, to clinch the match with a 30-27 score. Ashton posted five kills, while Finn and Ross each had four kills in the final game.
In the Tigers’ first match of the day, Clemson captured its second victory of the week, defeating Western Carolina by a 3-0 (30-14, 30-20, 30-22) score. Ashton and Ross led Clemson with 15 kills each, while Finn added 14 kills. Vallinch had a match-best 16 digs and three service aces, while Finn added 10 defensive saves with two service aces. Haskell dished out 25 digs, and Lawrence passed out 22 assists. Four Tigers (Steiner, Stanton, Ashton, Lawrence) had three blocks, while Finn and Leslie Mansfield added one solo block each.
In other day one Clemson Invitational action, The Citadel edged Western Carolina by a score of 3-2 (30-26, 30-28, 25-30, 16-30, 15-12) in the first match of the day. Northern Iowa defeated Winthrop, 3-1 (30-24, 30-21, 21-30, 30-28) in the day’s second match, followed by Clemson’s 3-0 win over Western Carolina. The afternoon session featured a 3-0 (30-25, 30-28, 30-21) Winthrop win over The Citadel. Clemson topped off the day with its victory over Northern Iowa. Entering the final day of the Clemson Invitational, Clemson is 3-0 on the season, while Winthrop has a 2-1 overall record, and Northern Iowa and The Citadel both boast a 1-1 mark. Western Carolina is 0-3 on the season, with two losses to the Tigers.
The Clemson Invitational will resume at 9:00 AM on Saturday, as the Tigers take on The Citadel.
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