CLEMSON, SC — When Jolene Hoover won her first match as Clemson’s head volleyball coach on September 3, 1993, there wasn’t much made about it, other than she was doing what she was hired to do. But now 20 seasons later, when a school is fortunate enough to have a coach stick around long enough to garner 400 career victories, you show her why she is special.
That’s what Clemson and the volleyball team did Saturday afternoon following the Tigers straight-set victory over S.C. State in the fourth match of the Big Orange Bash at Clemson’s Jervey Gym. After the 25-11, 25-15 and 25-17 win, Hoover was presented a bouquet of yellow roses by her team and a banner that said, “Congratulations Coach Hoover on win No. 400.”
“I have been very blessed to have had a lot of great players throughout my time here. I have had a lot of great assistant coaches, a great support staff and a lot of great people in administration for letting me stay here for 20 years,” she said.Outside hitter Kristin Faust, who led the Tigers for a second straight match with 15.5 points, says one of their focuses coming into the opening weekend was earning win No. 400 for their head coach.
“It’s awesome to be a part of this,” the sophomore said. “She is such a great coach and to know we got her 400th win that was great to know.
“We knew what we had to do to get her to that milestone. We wanted to get these wins this weekend so we just came out and played as hard as we could. We are pretty excited about it.”
Clemson (2-0) looked excited about it. The Tigers had little trouble with Coastal Carolina to open the season on Friday, and then Saturday afternoon, they rolled through the Bulldogs in much of the same fashion.
“That really touches me,” Hoover said while fighting off tears. “I didn’t know they knew about it. They are a great group. They give me everything they have. We talked about how last night they came back after game two and played wonderful to close the match. Today we focused on the same thing.
“We came in and finished them.”
For the second straight day, Faust led the Tigers in points, and for the second straight day she finished a match with a new career-high in points. The Orlando, FL native totaled 15.5 points, including a match-high 12 kills.
Faust had 14.5 points and 10 kills in Friday’s victory over Coastal Carolina.
“Her percentage has been real high, too,” Hoover said. “So she is playing at high level. She isn’t having as many errors. She has had a really good jump from last year. She has picked up a couple of inches on her jump and she has worked on her jump serve all summer. She really came into the preseason with an improved all-around game and it has been great to see.
“She is a fun player to watch.”
Faust contributes her early success thus far to freshman Kalah Jones, who has really pushed her to become a better player on the outside.
“I have worked harder this year,” Faust said. “Last year, I was handed a spot early in the year without really having to work for it because there wasn’t someone else there. This year, I have had Kalah to compete against so I came into this summer ready to work hard to get myself better. I’m just ready to play good.”
And now she will turn her focus and the team’s focus on helping their head coach reach another milestone. Hoover has 493 overall victories, seven away from 500.“I didn’t even know I was approaching that,” Hoover said.
Though she did not realize that, you can bet her team does.
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