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Great weekend for new coach, Tigers

Clemson head coach Michaela Franklin was glad to see her team get its feet wet this weekend as the Tigers ran through the Big Orange Bash at Jervey Gymnasium in Clemson with wins over Bethune-Cookman, Jacksonville and Lamar.

Clemson capped the weekend with a three-set victory over Lamar (25-17, 25-20, 25-15) on Saturday. The Tigers beat Jacksonville in a thrilling five-set victory earlier in the day. They beat Bethune-Cookman on Friday in three sets. It is the first time since 2014, Clemson has started a season with three wins.

“I thought this weekend was very big for us from a standpoint of getting a five-set win underneath our belt, a four-set win underneath our belt and a three-set win underneath out belt,” Franklin said. “Just really getting our feet wet because there’s nothing like the experience for match-time and being in the moment. Having to learn and respond in tight moments so I thought this weekend was a really good weekend for us.”

It was also the opening weekend for Franklin as the Tigers’ head coach. She was brought on after last season to change the culture and the direction of the program. The Tigers cruising through the Big Orange Bash was a good start.

“We’ve talked a lot about championship behavior…  What we’re after and we actually had to…  The girls did a good job with that.”

Clemson (3-0) also did a good job with Franklin’s strategy, especially in the win over Lamar.

“We wanted to let Lamer be the ones to make the errors,” she said. “We have to be smart with the ball and that’s something that we want to continue to evolve and become better.

“I thought we were pretty sharp on the in-line from a serving standpoint as well as first contact. Our offense hit above .400 overall so that’s obviously doing a good job from an offensive standpoint but what allows you to have a good offense is ball control and passing the ball.”

Of course Franklin got all of those things from outside hitter Kaylin Korte, outside hitter Kailey Harvell and middle blocker Megan McGinley. Harvell was awarded tournament MVP while Korte and McGinley were named to the All-Tournament team.

“I think Kaylin obviously brings that competitive edge for our team, but she also plays the full game for us,” Franklin said. “She has a lot on her plate and she’s attacking for us, putting away balls, serving aggressive on the in-line, getting some defensive digs you know she had a couple of double-doubles this weekend and then Kailey was doing a great job of stepping up and being a great hitter for us and becoming a go-to (hitter), especially in tight moments.

“It’s fun to see her evolve in that roll. Then Megan is just being consistent and most importantly smart with the ball. If she can hit it, she’s hitting it. If she can’t she’s just being smart and making good plays.”

Clemson will play Kennesaw State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Jervey Gym.

“Now after we’ve played at home for three matches, we play at home again on Tuesday so that will be good and then we hit the road again next weekend so that will present a different challenge,” Franklin said. “Obviously going on a road trip. I feel like we are getting comfortable playing at home now.”

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