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Tiger Volleyball To Open NCAA Play On Friday

Tiger Volleyball To Open NCAA Play On Friday

Dec. 4, 2008

Complete Game Notes

CLEMSON, SC – The Clemson volleyball team will open 2008 NCAA Tournament play on Friday night as the Tigers play host to first and second round action at Jervey Gym. Clemson (22-9) is scheduled to face Tennessee (22-9) at 7:00 pm, while 12th-seeded Utah (24-5) and Furman (21-13) will kick off Friday’s action at 5:00 pm. The winners will then meet at 7:00 pm on Saturday.

Tickets for Friday’s session will be available for sale at 4:00 pm at the entrance to Jervey Gym. There will not be advance sales. Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for students and senior citizens and $4 for children ages 3-12. Children under three are admitted free of charge. All seating is general admission so fans are encouraged to arrive early.

Fans will also be able to follow the action for all three matches on the Internet with live statistics and video broadcasting. Links to both are available on the Clemson Athletics homepage.

Clemson is making its second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and its seventh in school history. The Tigers defeated Alabama in the opening match of the 2007 event before falling to eighth-seeded UCLA in the second round.

Recently honored as the ACC Player-of-the-Year, Danielle Hepburn leads the Clemson squad in kills (450), blocks (166) and hitting percentage (.397). The senior from Miami, FL holds program career records for block assists, total blocks, hitting percentage and blocks per set. Her current .397 hitting figure is on pace to break her own single-season mark from 2007, while Hepburn’s 1.47 blocks per set average ranks fourth nationally this year.

Junior Lia Proctor earned her first all-conference accolade on Tuesday with a second-team nod. She ranks second on the team in kills with 399 while her 3.53 kills per set average is third in the ACC. Proctor, who hails from Inman, SC, is hitting at a .254 clip in 2008 with 308 digs in her first season playing a full rotation.

Scouting the Field The Lady Vols, who earned an at-large berth to the 2008 NCAA Tournament, will bring a 22-9 record into Friday’s match against the Tigers. Nikki Fowler owns a team-best 408 kills for Tennessee while fellow outside Milan Clarke ranks second with 303 kills in 2008. Head Coach Rob Patrick utilizes two setters in his offensive system with Michaela Hanakova and Kelsey Mahoney combining for 1,251 assists. Five Tennessee players have tallied at least 170 digs and Alyssa Hilby leads the team at the net with 109 total blocks. The Lady Vols are coming off a five-set upset of then-ranked #17 Kentucky in Lexington and have won 12 of their last 13 matches. Tennessee is averaging 13.22 kills per set while hitting at a .242 clip and blocking 2.43 attacks per set.

Utah, meanwhile, is riding a nine-match winning streak for a 24-5 overall record in 2008. The Utes received the Mountain West automatic bid and are seeded 12th overall in the tournament. Senior middle Emilliee Toone, who towers over the net at 6’7″, leads Utah with a .391 hitting percentage. She and fellow middle Lori Baird have 288 blocks between them for a Ute squad that is averging 3.00 blocks per set that ranks fifth nationally. Baid owns a team-best 322 kills as six Utah players have tallied triple digits in kills in 2008.

Furman won its final three regular season matches and then rallied for a trio of five-set victories in the Southern Conference Tournament from Nov. 21-23. The Paladins upset top-seeded College of Charleston in the championship match to earn the league’s automatic bid. Furman boasts a 21-13 record for 2008 and is led by Nicole Palazzo. The senior middle owns team bests in kills (329), hitting percentage (.315) and total blocks (132). As a team, the Paladins are hitting at a .208 clip with 283 total blocks.

Clemson Against the Field Friday’s match will be just the sixth meeting between Clemson and Tennessee in volleyball, the first since 1988. The Lady Vols won the 1988 meeting in Raleigh, NC by a 3-1 margin to hold a 4-1 advantage in the series. Tiger Head Coach Jolene Jordan Hoover was an assistant coach at Tennessee the last time Clemson met Tennessee in volleyball.

A potential meeting against Utah in the second round would be the first in program history, while a Clemson-Furman match-up would be the 36th all-time between the two upstate schools. The Tigers and Paladins did not meet during the 2008 regular season for the first time since 1998. Furman won the 2007 match, its first win in the series that dates back to 1977.

Clemson’s NCAA History The Tigers are making their second straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their seventh overall. Clemson owns a 3-6 record in the event, reaching the second round three times. Most recently, the Tigers defeated Alabama in the first round of the 2007 tournament before falling to eighth-seeded UCLA in the second round. Jolene Jordan Hoover has been the Tigers’ head coach for all seven.