Clemson's magical volleyball season ended over the weekend with a second-round NCAA tournament loss to UCLA.
"It is always tough to lose, but I am really proud of how hard we battled," coach Jolene Jordan Hoover said in a statement. "I was impressed with how hard we kept fighting."
The No. 20 Tigers (29-4) earned a host site and beat Alabama 3-1 in the first round. The next day against the Bruins, Clemson dropped the first two games before winning the third, but fell 30-22 in the fourth.
Sue Eckman, Courtney Lawrence, Leslie Mansfield and Meghan Steiner ended their careers but helped the Tigers become one of the winningest teams in school history. Clemson won the ACC championship for only the third time (just the second regular-season title) and made the NCAAs for the first time in eight years.
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• MOVING ON: Clemson women's soccer coach Todd Bramble has accepted the job at Alabama.
Bramble led the Lady Tigers to seven NCAA tournaments, including two trips to the Sweet 16 and one berth in the Elite Eight. Bramble won 80 games and never had a losing season, placing five Clemson teams in the final Top 25. He also guided Clemson to 18 wins over Top 25 opponents.
Bramble was also a men's soccer assistant from 1995-99, traveling with men's coach Trevor Adair from Brown to the Tigers.
• STRONG START: Clemson pole vaulter Mitch Greeley, a former star at Northwestern High School, won his event at the Clemson Opener last week and posted an NCAA provisional qualifying height.
Greeley, the school record-holder, vaulted 17 feet, 7.25 inches and won handily. It's the only competition the Tigers will have until January as they break for exams and the holidays.
• RE-STOCKED: South Carolina signed 16 baseball players in the early period and hopes to weather the annual Major League Baseball defection in the spring. The 16, including seven junior-college players and seven in-state players, are being counted on to fill the holes once the draft rolls around.
"We could potentially lose our entire infield (for this season) to the draft and I think it was important from a position standpoint to make sure we brought some older players into the program for the next year," said recruiting coordinator Monte Lee.
Lee and coach Ray Tanner got commitments from South Carolina natives Austin Ashmore (Greer), Marty Gantt (North Augusta), Adam Matthews (Lexington), Matt Price (Sumter), James Rawls (Batesburg-Leesville), Michael Roth (Greer) and Adam Westmoreland (Cayce). The Gamecocks also received signed letters-of-intent from four players (Eric Broberg, Justin Dalles, Bobby Haney and Grimes Medlin) who have been drafted at least once before but went to junior colleges instead.
• EYES ON THE GOLD: Clemson swimmer Rachel Regone finished third in the 50-meter freestyle at the Olympic Trials over the weekend, clinching a spot in the Mutual of Omaha Swimvitational in June. If Regone finishes in the top five in Omaha, she'll win a spot on the Olympic team.
Regone's time -- 26.38 seconds -- was just under the Olympic cut of 26.39.
• INTERESTING READ: Longtime fans of USC sports will have an option to pick up a Christmas present at local bookstores this year. Retired play-by-play man Bob Fulton released his extended biography, "My Career My Life" just in time for the holidays.
Fulton, USC's announcer since the mid-1950s, retired in 1995 and released a book called "Hi Everybody, This is Bob Fulton" the next year. His new book updates the old one with tales of seasons and games not just with USC, but of Fulton's life and career covering all sports.
The book is also available at Gamevoice.com for a special holiday price of $19.99. If ordered from the site, Fulton will autograph the book and send it with no tax, shipping or handling.
• THE RIVALRY: Clemson extended its lead in the all-sports season rivalry with USC with its 85-74 win in men's basketball, padding a 4-2 advantage. The only matchup left before the new year is Dec. 22 in women's basketball.