Note: The following appears in the Troy gameday football program. To purchase a copy of the program while supplies last, send a check for $6 to Clemson Athletic Communications; P.O. Box 31; Clemson, SC 29633 with your return address.
In 2013, Leah Perri joined a Clemson roster full of talent. Mo Simmons and Hannah Brenner were about to finish two of the most impressive careers in program history while Karis Watson and Kristin Faust were emerging as two of the top players in the conference.
Yet, from the moment Perri arrived on campus, she has found a way to make an impact. As a freshman, she registered 302 kills, the most by a first-year player since Tiger great Sandra Adeleye in 2009, and led Clemson with a .287 hitting percentage, the first freshman to do so since Alexa Rand in 2009. Perri was second to Simmons in kills and was later named to the All-ACC Freshman team as well as the All-ACC Academic team.
Since the moment she put on a Clemson jersey, the Richland, Mich., native has flourished in whatever situation she has been in, whether it is playing on the right side, outside or as a middle.
“As a freshman, I was focused on bettering myself for the team, and I agreed to play any position they needed me to,” said Perri, “When I made mistakes, I felt like my teammates had my back and they tried to help me gain a better understanding of the game. They never made me feel like an outsider, and I hope the current underclassmen feel the same way.”
“Leah is a perfect example of what coaches look for in their players,” said head coach Hugh Hernesman. “Even though she is blessed with tremendous talent, she also happens to be the hardest working player on the team and serves as a great example for the rest of our student-athletes.”
“Additionally, she does all the right things off the floor academically and socially. She is someone who young people in our community can look up to, and in a place like Clemson, where the community embraces all its athletes, this becomes even more important.”
Perri’s breakthrough season came in Hernesman’s first season at the helm of the program in 2015. She expanded her game and developed into one of the best six-rotation players in the ACC. As a junior, Perri registered five matches with 20 kills or more along with six double-doubles en route to career-high totals in kills (412), kills per set (3.68) and digs (213). Her season was ultimately highlighted by Clemson’s 3-1 victory at Georgia Tech, where she registered 20 kills and 19 digs while earning her 1,000th career kill.
“I’m excited to see her game mature with more help this season,” stated Hernesman. “With more offensive options, teams won’t be able to key on her as much. Additionally, Leah has put in the work to become an option in the back row as a defender and in serve receive. This allows her to also attack on a faster tempo set that will add a dynamic to our offense that we didn’t have last year.”
As a testament to her success throughout her time as a Tiger, 14 other student-athletes now look to the senior as their leader on and off the court, day in and day out.
“I have experienced so many changes in my four years at Clemson,” added Perri. “Every year has been a learning experience and has come with its own highs and lows, challenges and rewards.”
“However, what hasn’t changed is the fact that I’m playing a sport that I love for the school that I love. The program is in great hands. The staff and the team are determined to take what has historically been a great program to even greater places.”
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