BLACKSBURG, Va. – After dropping sets three and four, the Clemson volleyball team found a way to win a dramatic fifth set, 16-14, over Virginia Tech (25-21, 25-19, 18-25, 21-25, 16-14) in Cassell Coliseum Wednesday afternoon. The Tigers were led by freshman middle blocker Ava Pritchard, who registered a career-high 15 kills, while hitting .345 against the Hokies. With the win, the Tigers improved to 16-14 overall and 7-10 in ACC play to secure their first winning season since 2014. Virginia Tech fell to 14-16 overall and 5-13 in conference matchups.
“I’m really proud with how we stepped up and responded in that fifth set,” said Clemson head coach Michaela Franklin. “Typically, we haven’t responded in the way that we know we’re capable of doing. We had a couple of players step up for us. Emily Curtis on the end line in the fifth set when it was tight – to get back there on the end line and serve aggressive – I thought changed the entire mentality and you felt the energy shift for our team. Ashtynne Alberts also did a great job swinging away for us in tight moments in the fifth set. I’m very pleased with how we turned it back around rather than just going away.”
Clemson took the first two sets (25-21, 25-19) as Pritchard led the charge with nine kills. Coming out of the break, Clemson could not sustain its momentum as the Hokies closed out set No. 3 on a 10-3 run. In the fourth, the Tigers kept it close (19-19), but Virginia Tech closed out six of the last eight points to tie the match, 2-2. The two teams were even (7-7) midway through the fifth before the Hokies fired off four unanswered points. After a Pritchard kill, junior Emily Curtis stepped behind the end line and shifted momentum in Clemson’s favor with a service ace to cut the deficit to 11-10, prompting a VT timeout. The Tigers eventually held set point, 14-13, but VT held responded after taking its second and final timeout. The match came to an end on a block by Pritchard and freshman Ashtynne Alberts to give the Tigers their 16th victory of the season.
Along with Pritchard’s career afternoon, sophomore Alyssa Deloney posted a career-high 8.0 blocks along with 11 kills and a team-best .526 hitting percentage. Also active in the front row for Clemson was freshman Crystal Childs, who tallied a career-best 7.0 blocks. For the match, Clemson totaled a season-high 14.0 blocks. Behind the end line, defensive specialist Torie Frederick accounted for three of the Tigers’ nine service aces to notch her career best.
Up next, Clemson returns to Jervey Gym for its final regular-season contest against Boston College (14-14-, 4-12 ACC) Friday, Nov. 23 at 7 p.m. Friday’s matchup against the Eagles is scheduled to stream on ACC Network Extra.
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