In a battle of two teams that were separated by just one game in the ACC Volleyball standings, NC State defeated Clemson 3-2 (22-25, 25-17, 17-25, 25-19, 15-11) in a thriller at Reynolds Coliseum Friday night.
After trailing two sets to one, the Wolfpack (9-14, 4-7 ACC) battled back to win the final two sets to pick up its fourth ACC win of the season.
“We were so resilient, we have just battled and battled through so many things,” NC State head coach Linda Hampton-Keith said. “That was such a refreshing outcome to a really rough couple of weeks for us.”
This was NC State’s eighth five-set match of the season, with this being its third in which it has won.
Leading the way offensively for the Wolfpack was redshirt junior middle blocker Jessica Kemp who had 18 kills. Senior middle blocker Lauryn Terry had 14 kills and junior outside hitter Melissa Evans had 13 kills to name other key players on the Wolfpack’s attack. Redshirt freshman setter Nina Sharpton delivered as well with 51 assists.
“I think it builds momentum, Hampton Keith said.” “We have had a lot of resiliency and this just proves that it does not matter who’s on the court, what we’re doing, [or] who we’re playing. We’re just going to go out there and play our best volleyball.”
NC State had a six-point lead early on in the first set, but the Tigers (10-11, 4-7 ACC) settled in with a six-point scoring run to tie the set at 13. Clemson took the first set 25-22 after a strong finish that saw the Tigers score three of the final four points of the set.
At the media timeout in the second set, NC State was ahead 15-12 after holding off a couple of Clemson runs. The Wolfpack would dominate the final portion of set number two winning 25-17, riding Kemp and Evans on the offensive attack.
Clemson pushed its foot on the pedal in the third set jumping out to a 16-8 lead, its biggest of the game. The Tigers would close out this set winning 25-17 behind the strong offensive play of Kaylin Korte. NC State struggled offensively this set with seven attack errors and a mediocre .057 hitting percentage.
The fourth set was back and forth in the beginning with NC State opening a 6-2 lead, before the Tigers came back to tie it at seven. The Wolfpack would find its rhythm offensively, leading to a seven-point scoring run, which saw NC State take a 16-9 lead in the set. A Clemson service error ended the fourth set in favor of NC State 25-19 taking the game to a decisive fifth set.
An ace by Kemp and a service error to follow made the score 3-2 in favor of NC State in the opening stages of the fifth set. With the crowd at Reynolds Coliseum behind NC State, the Wolfpack continued to push for the win extending the lead to 6-3, which made Clemson take a timeout.
NC State continued to press on extending the lead to 10-5, after a Clemson attack error, the Tigers took their final timeout of the match to try and make some final adjustments. NC State kept it going, getting to match point leading 14-8. Clemson wouldn’t back down as they scratched away with three points in a row leading to a NC State timeout.
“We were just trying to calm down in that moment,” Hampton Keith said. “I thought we got a little wound up there towards the end. They ran one or two points and beyond the words that were used, we were just trying to calm down and get back to business.”
The Wolfpack then notched the winning point from freshman middle hitter freshman Lydia Adam on a kill to win the set 15-11.
NC State will be back in action Sunday, Nov. 3 at Reynolds Coliseum against Georgia Tech. The match is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. with the game being streamed online on the ACC Network Extra.