Historic comeback falls short as Ospreys VB falls to Clemson

Riley Platt, Reporter

What a game! Despite getting down two sets to none, the Ospreys clawed their way back. While the comeback came up just short, there are plenty of positives to take away from the close loss.

A big day of athletics on campus got off to an early start when UNF volleyball hosted the Clemson Tigers on Friday morning. Things started even as the teams traded blows back and forth. However, Clemson was able to pull away, taking the first set 25-22.

 The second set got off to a much rougher start, with the Tigers pounding out to an early 9-4 lead.

Clemson controlled most of the second set, despite runs from the Ospreys. Ultimately, Clemson would edge out another set win by a score of 25-21.

Down two sets to none, the Ospreys had their backs against the wall entering the third set. A win was needed to stave off elimination, and UNF would not go down without a fight. Things went back and forth for a majority of the set, but Clemson looked to be pulling away towards the end yet again. However, with the help of a clutch kill by sophomore Maddie Boyd, the Ospreys fought back and won the third set to stay alive.

While they had avoided elimination for the moment, UNF would need to win another set to have a chance at the match win. As the set got underway, you could sense a tangible shift of momentum. The Ospreys surged, jumping out to a big lead that would carry them to another set win, 25-17.

Set five: it all comes down to this. With momentum on their side, UNF looked to cap off an improbable comeback that would give the Ospreys their first win over an ACC team in program history.

The Ospreys got off to a strong start, but Clemson slowly inched away. UNF didn’t give up, though, with a kill from Gabby O’Connell leading the charge that would see the set tied at 13. Despite going up 14-13, the Ospreys weren’t able to close the deal, with Clemson prevailing to win three sets to two.

It’s easy to see a heartbreaking loss like this and get down, but UNF head coach Kristen Wright doesn’t see it this way. 

“I think the girls are going to be really bummed right now, but at the same time, I think they’re confident,” Wright said. “It sets the stage. We can compete with anybody in our conference if we can compete with Clemson. I think it produces confidence. I really do. Win or lose, when you play like that against a quality program, it produces confidence. That’s why we schedule tough.”

Another positive from the match was the grand accomplishment by UNF’s  Gabby O’Connell. The Gainesville native recorded the 1,000th kill of her career during the third set. The graduate student has had a decorated career, and this impressive milestone just adds more achievement. 

The Ospreys will take the court next when they host Florida Gulf Coast on Sunday and Monday, Feb. 14 and 15. Both games will start at 2 PM and are open to the public with free admission. Follow along with Spinnaker for more UNF volleyball coverage.


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