Georgia outside hitter Rachel Ritchie (7) calls a ball out during an NCAA volleyball match between the University of Georgia and the University of Arkansas in Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, Ga. (Photo by Kristin M. Bradshaw)

The Georgia volleyball team lost its season opener and the first match of the Big Orange Bash from Clemson, South Carolina, against the Clemson Tigers 3-0 on Friday night.

The Bulldogs held several leads throughout the first two sets before ultimately falling 25-21 and 26-24. The loss was secured when they dropped the final set 25-19.

Freshman Kacie Evans stood out on her collegiate debut, recording 13 kills, four blocks, and nine digs. Junior Rachel Ritchie also recorded double-digit kills, finishing with 10 on the evening.

One of the key points of the match came in the form of huge Clemson runs at critical junctures. In the first set, Georgia surrendered a 16-14 lead by losing six of the next seven consecutive points. In the second set, Clemson's 5-0 run in the second set put the Tigers in control after trailing 21-18.

After two close victories, Clemson capitalized on its momentum to take nine consecutive points and a 13-3 third set lead, which the Bulldogs could not overcome despite managing to pull it back to 16-13.

“It was a tough match. Clemson’s a good team,” head coach Tom Black said. “We had some good opportunities, but we couldn’t quite close it out. Looking over the stats, we have to take care of converting our perfect passes. I thought both teams served and passed really well. Definitely some things to clean up but we’re going to get better.”

Georgia will return to the court on Saturday as the Big Orange Bash continues with a doubleheader against Kennesaw State at noon and Wofford at 5 p.m.

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