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The Tiger

Women’s club volleyball tops 11 others, wins first tournament of the semester

Jacob Thompson, Photographer

The women’s club volleyball team set the tone for the rest of the season by winning their first tournament of the season, holding off the University of Georgia Bulldogs in their final set. 

The court is tense. The Clemson Tigers are at match point. They have the Georgia Bulldogs against the wall. Fike is about to explode.

Fike? But the Tigers’ home volleyball matches are played in Jervey Gym. Well, the varsity team’s matches are. Club volleyball hosts its matches in Fike Recreation Center.

Clemson’s women’s club volleyball team hosted its Clemson Home Tournament on Saturday, Feb. 9h, at Fike. The tournament featured 12 teams representing 10 universities and included both of Clemson’s own teams.

Pool play action began early for the Tigers, with the A team, known as orange, facing the University of South Carolina’s B team and Clemson’s B team facing Appalachian State. Both teams began play at 8:30 a.m. since they were not in the same pool and both teams got off to a great start early.

During pool play, teams played each of the other three teams in their pool for two sets, regardless of the outcomes of the sets. Sets were scored normally but were capped at 27 points.

“The girls have a highly developed chemistry. They’re two teams, but you can’t tell. They can always come back together. It’s a spectacle to watch,” said Sherman Jones, graduate right side hitter for the men’s team about the women’s team.

The Tigers’ orange team took both sets over USC’s B team, winning 25-20 and 25-12. The purple’s team match with App State was closer than the orange team’s opening match, but purple took both sets, winning them 25-23 and 25-18.

The orange team was back in action at 10:30 against Lander University. The Tigers dominated the Bearcats, winning both sets by a combined point differential of 38. The final scores were 25-5 and 25-7.

Immediately following the orange team’s second match of the day was the purple team’s second and third matches of the day, which put them up against the Florida Gators and the USC-Beaufort Sandsharks. The Tigers fought hard against the Gators, but dropped both sets, losing the first by a score of 19-25 and the second by a score of 17-25. Their next game followed right after, and the Tigers topped Beaufort 25-16 and 26-14.

At 1:30, the orange faced who they thought would be their toughest challenge, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The first set was close, but the Tigers topped the Jackets 25-19 and had an easier time in the second set, winning 25-15.

With pool play complete, the orange team sat at the top of their pool, having won all six sets, and the purple team was seeded second in their pool.

Clemson’s orange team was put against App State and the purple team was up against USC’s A team. But with purple finishing second in their pool, Clemson’s teams were on a collision course in the semifinals.

Orange made light work of App State, downing them in two sets, 25-16 and 25-13. The Tigers recorded 24 digs and 17 kills as a team while only giving up 29 points.

Purple would not find the same success with USC’s A team. The Tigers got the best of the Gamecocks in the first set, winning 25-17, but they dropped the next two, 25-20 and 15-12. With this loss, the purple team was eliminated from the tournament.

Next, it was the orange team’s turn to face USC’s A team. The Tigers downed the Gamecocks in two sets, winning 25-16 and 25-13.

Then came the waiting for the Tigers. They had to wait for the result of the match between the Florida Gators, a frequent opponent for Tigers’ Club Volleyball, and the UGA Bulldogs. The match dragged on. The two teams, more than any other pair in the tournament, were evenly matched. The teams split the first two sets with neither taking a commanding lead. In the third set, the Bulldogs were able to grab the two-point advantage right when they needed and topped the Gators 15-13 to move on to the tournament championship.

The stage was set for the Tigers to win their first tournament of the semester. They had not dropped a set all day. And they weren’t about to start.

The Tigers struggled at first. The home crowd was the loudest it had been all day. The Tigers and Dawgs traded points in the first set until Clemson was able to pull away following the teams being tied at 15. Their largest lead in the set followed, when the Tigers were up 19-15. Georgia attempted a comeback and brought the match to 19-18 in favor of the Tigers, but the Tigers quickly regained their lead and won the set 25-19.

The Tigers were one set away from winning their first tournament of the semester. They started out hot and took nine of the first ten points scored in the set, including taking seven in a row. The Tigers began to let their lead slip towards the end of the set, but the lead was too commanding for the Bulldogs to overcome. The Tigers were up 24-22 going into the last rally. Sophomore setter Alyssa Valdez put a perfect ball up for graduate right side hitter Melissa Kozik. Kozik recorded her fourth kill of the match, and the Tigers took the set 25-22.

“Winning the first tournament of the semester is important for our us because the first tournament sets the pace for the whole season.” She added, “Winning the first tournament, and it being our home tournament, helped us set a winning mindset for the remainder of the season,” said club volleyball president and junior libero Christina Waigart of the win.

One of the biggest concerns for the team going into the day was how freshmen setter Peyton Rogers would perform. She played on the purple team last semester and was called up to orange when one of orange’s setters graduated. Rogers said it was challenging at first as she had gotten used to the hitters on the purple. However, Rogers recorded the most assists for the team during bracket play.

Club volleyball’s next tournament is in two weeks in Chapel Hill, NC. It is their first ranking tournament of the semester.

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