Sept. 24, 2011
DURHAM, NC – The Clemson volleyball team fell in five sets to Duke in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday, in what turned out to be one of the most intense matches in school history. The teams shifted pressure all night, and fought off a combined 11 match points in the final set. Clemson (10-4, 2-1 ACC), picked seventh by league coaches, gave the preseason favorite Blue Devils (8-4, 2-1 ACC) all they could handle on their home court.
There were several career-best efforts out of the orange side, in a five-setter that had the most points scored in a fifth set in the rally-scoring era. Duke took the match, 27-25, 19-25, 23-25, 25-17, 25-23, in just less than three hours.
The fifth set featured 17 tied scores and six lead changes. There were 40 tied scores in the match overall, and 14 lead changes. Clemson stayed in the match thanks to aggressive play at the net, knocking down 18.0 total blocks.
Four Tigers had 13 or more kills, led by Serenat Yaz’ 16, a season high. Yaz also had a season-high 20 digs, and a career-high six blocks in leading Clemson with 21.5 total points. Alexa Rand registered her first career double-double, nailing 15 kills and 10 block assists.
Although the Tigers hit into just 7.0 blocks, Duke’s tall front line clearly affected play as the Tigers tried to get into an offensive rhythm. The back lines of both teams were outstanding, as Natalie Patzin had a career-high 29 digs, while her counterpart, Ali McCurdy of Duke had 31. Patzin was outstanding on serve receive, surrendering just one ace in 45 chances.
Mo Simmons had a career-high 14 kills and 42 swings, while also managing eight total blocks and eight digs. Sandra Adeleye had 13 kills and hit .324 with four blocks, and had five kills in the deciding set.
Hannah Brenner notched her fourth double-double of the season, tallying 38 assists and a career-high-tying 16 digs. The Tigers converted on 37.3 percent of her sets. Fellow setter Kamryn Sherman was a dig shy of her second double-double, as she had 22 assists and nine digs.
Freshman Kristin Faust also quietly put together a solid all-around match, with nine kills, 13 digs, and was a perfect 42-for-42 on serve receive.
In the first set, Clemson ran out to a 9-4 lead early behind four Blue Devil errors, and a pair of kills from Faust. Duke stormed back to tie it at 11-11. The teams traded points to all the way to 25-25, behind a flurry of kills from both sides, before Duke got the final two points on a pair of kills. The Devils hit .360 in the set, while holding Clemson to .289.
In the second set, it was Duke that took the early lead, taking a 6-2 edge early. Clemson came back to tie it at 8-8. Duke scored the next three before Clemson went on a 10-2 run to take an 18-13 lead, partly behind a string of four blocks in five points. Clemson closed the set on their 8th block of the set, an assist of Rand and Watson, to tie the match at 1-1.
Clemson took the upper hand in the third set with a huge comeback, hitting .213 while holding the Devils to .170 hitting. Rand had six kills in the set, and Simmons added four of her own. Clemson trailed by as many as five late at 19-14, but Rand jumpstarted the Tigers with a kill and a pair of blocks. The teams traded four points, before Simmons recorded a kill and an ace to give Clemson the 23-22 lead, its first of the set. After a Simmons serve error tied it at 23-23, Brenner found Adeleye for a kill and Simmons found a weak spot near the sideline for a kill to clinch the set.
Duke clawed back in the fourth set after Clemson took a quick 6-3 lead. The Blue Devils ran off five straight, to take the lead, and Clemson could never regain control in the set, as Duke won 25-17. Duke hit .371, while holding the Tigers to .122.
The fifth set featured too many incredible points to count, as each team played extremely high-level volleyball. Duke ran out to a 3-0 lead, before Yaz swung back with three kills, allowing Clemson to take a 4-3 lead. Duke looked to take control as they forced a timeout at 10-8, and again at 12-10, but Clemson scored the next three to take a 13-12 lead, forcing a Duke timeout.
Duke scored next on a kill from Meagan Hendrickson, and a crucial call went Clemson way when Hendrickson’s next attempt sailed wide, setting up match point. Duke was able to side out, starting a pattern of eight straight points of siding out, with the Blue Devils fighting off four consecutive match points. Duke then took an 18-17 lead, before Yaz had a kill to tie, and the Tigers fought off three straight match points. Clemson got back ahead at 21-20, but Duke took the lead back with two straight at 22-21.
Clemson tied it at 22-22 on a service error from Amanda Robertson, before Gray posted another kill to set up the fifth match point for Duke. Adeleye then found the floor to tied it at 23-23. Faust then served, but sent her attempt to the net, setting up match point. Clemson couldn’t score to tie, and Dunworth found the floor to seal the match.
The Tigers return to action next weekend at home as they play host to NC State and North Carolina.
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