ATLANTA, Ga. – Leah Perri earned her 1,000th career kill and Keelie Arneson advanced to ninth all-time in NCAA history with 2,605 digs in Clemson’s 3-1 victory over Georgia Tech. Head coach Hugh Hernesman’s first ACC victory is Clemson’s first victory in O’Keefe Gym since 2011.
“It’s a tough place to go and play against a very talented Georgia Tech team,” said head coach Hugh Hernesman. “I feel like we’ve deserved a win like this for weeks. We’ve been doing everything right and haven’t quite gotten the result we’ve wanted but, we keep talking about putting ourselves in a position to win and the more you do that, the more you figure out what it takes and today was the day we did figure it out.”
Clemson came out swinging, defeating the Yellow Jackets 30-28 and 25-21 in the first two sets. The Tigers then finished the job in the fourth by a 25-20 score after Georgia Tech won the third, 25-16. The effort by the Tigers offensive effort was highlighted by a .350 hitting percentage in the second set with 17 kills and on 40 attempts with just three errors.
“I’m just really excited. I’m just really excited for the team. They’ve worked so hard for this, they deserved this, and they’ve deserved this for weeks now. I’m just happy for them.”
Perri now has 1,008 kills over the course of her three-year career as a Tiger with her 20-kill effort against the Yellow Jackets. She fell just a dig shy of matching her kill total with a career-high, 19 digs.
“I’m really proud of Leah for what she’s done just in terms of stepping forward into being a leader. She played with tremendous effort, I mean, she almost had 20 digs tonight… that’s huge, and then for her to take the number of swings and the big swings that she did, everyone in the gym know the ball is going to her and she’s still producing. I’m just so happy for her, I know she puts so much into it.”
“Her and Keelie both, everything they do is for their teammates and they’re very good at making their teammates better.”
Arneson was the only other Tiger to finish with more digs than Perri as she climbed into the NCAA’s top 10 career digs leaders with her 11 digs in the first set alone. The graduate libero finished leading the defense with 31 digs on the night.
“Keelie had some stretches where that ball was just not going to hit the floor. That last point and that last series of points we had to earn, I mean we really had to earn and work hard to get. They brought their best right at her and she was phenomenal.”
“Keelie is an elite defender, the best I’ve ever been around. That career milestone is well deserved, but boy tonight, she was real difficult to score on.”
Megan McGinley and Kailey Harvell took advantage of their opportunities as Georgia Tech’s defense focused on Perri. The duo hit .325 with a combined 17 kills and led the charge in Clemson’s 16-to-4 blocking advantage.
“Kailey playing on the right, not necessarily a natural position for her but I think that might be where we are best as a team because it gives us a threat over there. Her blocking was great, we had to make a blocking adjustment on Teegan Van Gunst because she was scoring down the line and I thought Kailey did a nice job of taking that away.”
McGinley continues to impress as the season goes along as she strung together nine kills on 17 swings with just two errors for a .412 hitting percentage and a career-best, team-leading seven blocks. Harvell registered a career-best six blocks to go along with her eight kills.
Two other Tigers recorded four digs or more as Alex Lynch held down the middle alongside McGinley with five blocks and five kills. Kate Federico was the other Tiger to finish with four blocks as she assisted on 39 kills while tallying six of her own and digging out 16 balls for the double-double.
“The key for us was Kate was scoring early for us, and that got their attention. Those first two sets she was really good offensively and she got the attention of their blockers. They got to the point where they had to honor her so that freed up our other hitters.”
“She set a smart offense, she played great defense and even blocking. There were a lot of big plays and I thought Kate made a lot of them, which was good to see her step up in other areas other than running the offense.“
Sydney Moseley was the fourth Tiger to finish with digs in double figures with 12 to go along with her four kills. Kennedy Wilson-Talmadge finished two digs shy of being the fifth with her eight digs on the night.
“It’s always a team win and one of the comments I made in the locker room afterward was, you see the big numbers that Keelie and Leah put up, but maybe the play of the game was the block by Sydney Moseley at 23 when we were stuck in a tough rotation and we couldn’t get out of it.”
“We talk a lot about role players and how small plays can make a huge difference in a match and can win you a match and that may have been that play. I thought Lou Davis’ service run early in the fourth set gave us a really good cushion. Both her and Keelie were knocking down short zones and both of them did a great job of putting the ball in real difficult spots. I thought Lou had probably two or three big digs too within that run and it’s impressive. Sometimes those small roles can make a huge difference in wins and losses.”
Clemson is back in action on Friday night against Virginia at 7:00 p.m.
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