CLEMSON, S.C. – Clemson volleyball won each of its first two matches of the Clemson Classic on Friday. The Tigers (4-4) began the day defeating East Tennessee State, 3-1 (26-24, 20-25, 29-27, 25-22) and then finished the first day of the tournament with a three-set sweep of Presbyterian (25-17, 25-17, 25-16).
“It was a good day for us,” said head coach Hugh Hernesman. “I think this morning’s match was good for us to see. We’ve had some struggles in tight games in these first two weekends, and that’s all part of them being new to each other. But, when we were down 18-20 in that fourth set and looking at possibly going five sets, it was good to see us really compete hard. We asked for them before that fourth set to raise their level of competitiveness, add a little grit and a little bit of nasty to them and they were able to do that.”
The two victories were a complete team effort as Leah Perri and Kate Federico led the way against ETSU. Perri tallied her first 20-kill performance of 2015 and picked up nine digs in the process. It was Perri’s nine kills in the third set that fueled the Clemson offense as it collectively swung .351 throughout a set that ended in a 29-27 score.
“Leah kind of put us all on her back and we rode her to victory this morning,” said Hernesman. “She’s honestly playing a little out of position, she’s more comfortable on the right but we were able to flip her back and forth between the left side and the right side which gave a little bit of a different look, but more importantly it put her at a greater comfort level with herself which I think played a big part in it too.”
Federico was just three kills away from a triple-double as she finished the match with 39 assists, 10 digs and seven kills on 13 swings for a .462 hitting percentage. She went on to add 26 more assists to her stat line against Presbyterian.
“Kate really is doing a good job of loosening up the frontcourt when she’s in the frontcourt and attacking. The last couple of weeks we’ve been stressing that and she’s been delivering.”
In match two, Presbyterian couldn’t find an answer for Perri, Kailey Harvell or Sofia Hruby as they collectively hit .426 in the match. Harvell led the trio with 11 kills and had a .391 hitting percentage to go along with it.
“I think this evening it looked like Kailey had another level to her. We talked to her about making some adjustments in her approach, taking the ball at a different spot and I think it really paid off. She was over the top of the block and to good spots and had a real good bounce to her.”
Hruby recorded five blocks on the night to complement her eight kills and .500 hitting percentage. She was very effective offensively for the Tigers in the middle as she picked up four kills on just 10 swings against ETSU, giving her 12 kills and a .417 hitting percentage on the day. Perri matched Hruby’s eight kills against Presbyterian and swung .412. Fellow freshman middle blocker, Megan McGinley finished the day matching Hruby with six blocks as well.
“Sofia… man she sprains her ankle in the morning match and it as kind of a scary time for us with all the injuries that we’ve had. We couldn’t lose another person but she came back and did really well this evening. She blocked well at the net, made some good blocking calls and was available in transition which is something we really need out of her.”
Keelie Arneson was credited with 26 more digs this season, moving her closer to the NCAA’s list of all-time dig leaders. She now needs just 129 digs to be one of the top 25 liberos to ever compete at the Division-I level. Freshman, Kennedy Wilson-Talmadge saw significant time on the floor, collecting two service aces and 12 digs.
“Kennedy I thought did a nice job, she’s got a lot of potential. She’s so fast, she’s about as fast as Keelie is,” said Hernesman. “Kennedy adds another level of athleticism to the backcourt for us, she plays really hard and she has a bright future for us.”
“I think what Kennedy did in the backcourt for us this morning allowed us to play Keelie some mid-back and she’s so good at reading hitters that you can put her anywhere. So that gave us flexibility to put Keelie in a spot that they were getting some kills earlier in the match and that made a difference late in the fourth set against ETSU.”
Taylor Daniel made her collegiate debut against Presbyterian and connected with Harvell for her first collegiate assist and set up match point for Clemson.
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