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Volleyball showing early season promise

The Clemson volleyball team has faced its fair share of on-court adversity in recent seasons. With a combined 12 wins from the past two years, the numbers prove as much. This year,, that adversity is expected to evolve into promise. In fact, the Tigers are primed to make an impact in the ACC for the first time in several seasons.

Led by first-year Head Coach Michaela Franklin, the Tigers have begun to showcase widespread improvements on the court, with a solid 4-3 start, and sweeping the field to win the Big Orange Bash. 

Once a great player for the Kansas State Wildcats, Franklin had a successful run as a head coach and assistant coach in the Great Lakes region prior to taking her talents to Clemson. With a history of making a positive impact at every one of her coaching stops in her career, Franklin is the perfect person for the job of revitalizing a Tiger program in need of rejuvenation.

When speaking on her approach to coaching and how her playing career aided the impact that she can make as a coach, Franklin said, “I was able to see the game from different perspectives, and, now I’m able to relate to my players because I’ve been in their shoes. I know what it’s like to be on their side of things.”

Driven by a philosophy that promotes championship behavior, Franklin expects her players to behave like champions at all times and, in the process, become the best person, teammate, student and volleyball player that they can be, thereby promoting a winning attitude that will definitely help with in-game production.

“I believe that in order to win championships in volleyball or be a winner in life,” Franklin said, “you have to behave like

a champion.”

Clearly having already bought into the

concept of championship behavior, the Clemson volleyball squad is performing well at the start of its 2017 campaign. 

Featuring just two seniors on the roster, Clemson is particularly young and inexperienced this season, which is definitely not indicative of their impressive play in recent weeks. Boasting dominant outside hitters Kaylin Korte and Kailey Harvell, who have 93 and 67 kills respectively thus far, the Tigers offer plenty of talent up front,

making their net game fairly imposing. 

In addition, senior leader Keely Hayes is holding her own at the setter spot, as is fellow senior Kennedy Wilson-Talmadge at libero, thus bolstering Clemson’s passing and defensive efforts. 

Sporting an entirely new coaching staff, Clemson has started fresh this year, casting aside the trials and tribulations of the past few seasons and beginning a new era on the right foot. 

While the Atlantic Coast Conference is expected, as usual, to be highly competitive this season, Clemson could very well be in the mix at the top of the standings. The future is conspicuously bright with regard to the program, as several talented freshmen and transfers have joined the ranks since Franklin took over as head coach, priming the team for success for years to come.

Star middle blockers Megan McGinley and Jaden Light have stepped up this fall, and make up a sizable faction of promising players in line to hone their skills this season and return to the fray next season to excel once again. 

While it would be reasonable to expect that the Tigers would experience a growing process as they become accustomed to the new coaching regime this year, their assimilation appears to be accelerated, perhaps because of Franklin’s commitment to assisting her players in their on-court growth.

“Growth of the individuals in our program is important to me,” Franklin said. “That plays along with that championship behavior and being the best person and the best teammate.”

Slated to take part in the Auburn Invitational and the Clemson Challenge before conference play begins, the Tigers will look to continue their solid play in preparation for what figures to be ultra-competitive ACC play. While the regular season is long, as it runs until late November, the Tigers are already well on their way to experiencing plenty of victories during that span. 

Franklin’s hire, which was met with plenty of celebration in Tiger Town, is rapidly paying dividends as the team is clearly well on its way to making a mark in the ACC this season. Young, promising and teeming with talent, the Tigers’ roster is shaping up as the perfect group to help lead the Clemson volleyball program to new heights in the coming  years, with Coach Franklin’s championship behavior poised to serve as the guiding force every step of the way.

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