"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

'Covers the campus like the magnolias'
"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

"Covers the campus like the magnolias"

Old Gold & Black

Volleyball splits weekend homestand, draws attention to bigger issues

Wake Forest sweeps Clemson, falls to No. 11 Georgia Tech in five sets
Olivia+Franke+%28No.+2%29+and+Olivia+Fish+%28No.+12%29+go+up+to+defend+an+attack+from+Georgia+Tech.+Franke+totaled+the+most+blocks+in+the+match+with+8.
Hamilton Bretherton
Olivia Franke (No. 2) and Olivia Fish (No. 12) go up to defend an attack from Georgia Tech. Franke totaled the most blocks in the match with 8.

Wake Forest volleyball embraced the spirit of pro humanitate this past weekend as the program raised awareness for both breast cancer and mental health, respectively, during a win against Clemson and narrow loss to No. 11 Georgia Tech. While Wake Forest made a statement by sweeping Clemson and contending with a ranked conference powerhouse, the greater message from the team was to their community.

The first of the two matches was a three-set win over Clemson in Friday night’s Dig Pink Match. The “Dig Pink” theme drew attention to breast cancer research and awareness while honoring Heather Holmes, the Wake Forest volleyball head coach from 2005 to 2012, who passed away from breast cancer in 2019.

In a message posted to social media before Friday’s game, current Head Coach Randi Smart remembered her former colleague as “the driving force of the program,” and above all, “tenacious.”

The Demon Deacons commemorated Holmes and her legacy by presenting the annual Heather Holmes Tenacity Award to Wake Forest senior Olivia Franke shortly before the match. Franke has been a longtime piece of this Wake Forest squad, reaching a milestone 500 career kills earlier this season.

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The first set, which featured seven lead changes and four ties, was eventually knotted up at 19 to set up a thrilling, back-and-forth conclusion in which neither team led by more than two points at one time. Wake Forest finally claimed the first set over Clemson, 26-24.

The second of three sets was also kept close. Neither team took a lead greater than four points until Wake Forest went on a 5-0 run to reach 20 points first. Clemson had a short-lived comeback on the back off consecutive Wake Forest errors, but the Demon Deacons finally took the second set 25-21. Wake Forest would go on to take the third and final set in a commanding 25-16 win to seal the sweep.

Sophomore Paige Crawford recorded her third double-double of the season (16 kills and 11 digs) while leading Wake Forest in kills on Friday. Crawford ranks eighth in the ACC with a 3.39 kill/set average. In her season debut, senior Kylie Adams had a career outing, posting a career-high 36 assists and tying her own personal best two aces.

After setting the tone with a sweep of Clemson on Sept. 29, Wake Forest headed into a major match on Oct. 1 against No. 11 Georgia Tech. The Demon Deacons were sporting green uniforms for their Mental Health Awareness match but continued honoring the tenacious legacy of Holmes through their play on Sunday. Facing a ranked conference opponent, Wake Forest remained relentless in their efforts and put up a season-best performance.

Despite losing the match in the fifth set, Wake Forest recorded the most kills in a single match this season with 66, tied for the fourth-most by a team in the ACC this year. Wake Forest also had a season-high 60 assists against the Yellow Jackets. Not only did Wake Forest force the conference leaders to play five sets for the first time this season, but they also managed to lead the game in kills, assists, digs, points and hitting percentage.

Not shying away from the challenge, freshman Ava Carney had a breakout performance on offense as she led the team in kills (19), blocks (7) and points (22.5). Those marked season highs for Carney in each category. Crawford recorded another double-double, her fourth of the season. 

Now 11-4 (2-2), the Demon Deacons will travel north to face Boston College on Friday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m.

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Andrew Braun, Sports Editor

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