CLEMSON, S. C. – The Tennessee State University volleyball team split their Saturday matches at the Clemson Classic at Jervey Gym.
The Tigers (3-7) beat William & Mary (4-6) in five sets before falling to Clemson (9-1) in five. TSU continued to see great performances on offense, but the defense really came through in both matches. The Blue and White finish the tournament 2-1.
“We really battled today,” head coach Kathy Roulhac said. “The girls really wanted to come out of the Clemson game with a win, but up until today we had never even taken a set from them. I felt like we did enough to get the win, they just executed on a few more plays that made the difference.”
TSU took the first match of the day against William & Mary 3-2. The entire match was a flurry of traded points as the biggest set victory was five. Overall, there were 41 total ties and 19 lead changes throughout the contest.
The story of the match for the Blue and White was the show put on by Maldonado. She filled up the stat sheet in this match, pacing all defenders with 22 digs while notching five service aces, three assists, and even recording a kill. Had she been up front, she may even have gotten a block or two, she was absolutely on fire.
“Ileanushka really stepped up for us today. She’s been working hard in practice and it showed in today’s matches. I’m excited to see just how much she does the rest of 2014.”
The Tigers had four attackers record double-digit kills. Senior Taylor Swayzer led with 17 while Wells tallied 16, sophomore Arijana Anderson notched 12, and junior Haley Hampton added 11. Swayzer also led the team in attack percentage with a .273 clip.
TSU trailed 5-8 at the turn in the pivotal fifth set. The Tigers then proceeded to go on a match-clinching 10-4 run with Swayzer burying the match-winner. Freshman Samantha Beltran continued to step up, racking up a career-high 50 assists. The Mississauga, Ontario native was one dig away from her second double-double of her first collegiate season.
The Tigers had a long break and then took on Clemson for the tournament championship where the hosts won in another five-set thriller. Both teams traded sets until TSU fell in the fifth 5-15.
Wells recorded her fourth double-double of the season as she put down 16 kills and had 10 digs. Hampton and Swayzer joined her in double-digit kills with 13 and 11, respectively. Maldonado continued her stellar play on D with 20 digs.
The Tigers will come home for the first time in 2014 to host East Tennessee State on Tuesday. Start time for that match is 6:00 p.m.
As always, look up the volleyball team on Twitter @tnstateVB.