NEW ORLEANS, La. – Behind a balanced offense and 11 blocks, the Clemson Tigers defeated Houston Christian on Thursday afternoon to open the Tulane Invitational. The 3-1 victory (25-23, 12-25, 25-20, 25-20) moves the Tigers to 7-3 on the season.
The Tigers were led by graduate Adria Powell who finished with 13 points after recording eight kills and six blocks (two solo, four assisted). Kennedy Wagner followed with 12 points off seven kills, three aces and three blocks, while Katie Hurta finished with 10.5 points after tallying a team-high nine kills and two blocks. Both Devan Taylor and Mia McGrath finished with double-digit digs with 23 and 14, respectively, while Audrey Armbruster (19) and Katie Culumovic (14) led the team in assists.
Clemson and Houston Christian battled back-and-forth in the first set as the two teams traded scoring runs. The Tigers finally got the slight edge after Hurta notched a kill, and Kate Simington immediately followed with a solo block to give Clemson the 13-12 advantage. The Tigers continued to pull away with kills from Azyah Dailey, Wagner and Powell, and an ace from Wagner made it 20-16 for Clemson. The Huskies pulled within one, but a solo block from Wagner gave Clemson the first set, 25-23.
HCU responded in the second set with a 6-0 and 7-0 scoring run that had the Tigers in an uphill battle. Armbruster and Powell made a push for Clemson midway through the set with an ace and two kills, respectively, but it wasn’t enough as Houston Christian took the set. Clemson responded in the third with a tightened-up defense that finished with five blocks, including two solo from Powell and one solo from Hurta to end the set.
The Tigers dominated the fourth set as well by taking a 6-1 lead after Armbruster and Wagner served early aces. McGrath and Wagner tallied kills to keep the Tigers rolling, but Clemson took advantage of multiple errors by the Huskies to extend its lead to 15-5. Taylor followed with an ace, and Wagner and Powell added points off a combined block and individual kills from both of them. Houston Christian closed the scoring gap down to three before Clemson closed the set and the match with a 25-20 win.
Clemson returns to Avron B. Fogelman Arena tomorrow evening to take on host Tulane in the evening bout. The match is at 7:30 p.m. ET and can be watched on ESPN+.