on December 1, 2007 by in Uncategorized, Comments (0)

Tigers’ volleyball advances, one win from Regionals

CLEMSON — It’s been a long time since the Clemson Tigers won a volleyball match in the NCAA Tournament.

But that’s what makes Friday’s 3-1 first-round victory over Alabama at the Jervey Gym all the better.

“This was an exciting win for us,” Clemson coach Jolene Hoover said. “Of course, we’re really excited that we’re in the tournament and I thought Alabama played fantastic. They gave us everything that we could handle and I’m just really excited to get one and be alive still (in the tournament).”

The win also moved the 20th-ranked Tigers (29-3) within one victory of advancing to their first regional in the program’s history.

“I think it definitely helped that we played at home and we had an amazing crowd tonight,” Clemson’s Jeanette Abbott said. “I think tomorrow will be exciting. I think we are all prepared for UCLA and we’re ready to go out and get a win and head to Sacramento.”

As Abbott mention, the Tigers will host 12th-ranked UCLA, which defeated Alabama A&M earlier in the evening, tonight at 7 p.m. The Bruins (21-10) are the No. 8 national seed.

Against Alabama, Clemson opened the match by winning a close first game, 30-25. The Crimson Tide gave Clemson six points on serving errors. Lia Proctor led the way with five kills for the Tigers. Danielle Hepburn and Abbott contributed with three.

Proctor continued her solid night by leading Clemson to a 30-27 victory in Game 2. The score was tied 21 different times in the game. With the score tied at 27, Proctor had two kills as the Tigers went on a 3-0 run to win the game.

Proctor totaled seven kills all together.

“I noticed that she (Lia Proctor) had seven kills in the second game and I was letting our setter know that as well,” Hoover said. “Lia did a great job for us tonight and she came up big when we needed it.”

Alabama (15-15) rallied to take the third game, 33-31, thanks to the play of sophomore Brooks Webster. She led the Crimson Tide on a 3-0 late to tie the Tigers and then got two key points to force a fourth game.

Clemson closed the match with a victory in game four, but the Tigers had to rally after falling behind 22-18 late.

“We weren’t feeling real good in game four, down a few points,” Hoover said. “We kept talking in the timeouts that we’ve got to keep it positive. We were trying to get the team to let the mistake go and look forward to the next point.

“Didem (Ege) said in a timeout that she felt we weren’t playing as a team and everyone got fired up because Didem is a woman of few words. We came out of that time out ready to charge.”

After the timeout, Hepburn killed the ball for point 19. Alabama then scored another point, but Clemson went on an impressive 6-0 run to take a 25-23 lead. Momentum was on the Tigers side as key blocks from Hepburn and a kill from Abbott put the game away. Clemson won 30-26.

Both Proctor and Hepburn each finished the match with 17 kills.