After missing the postseason last year, Clifton Lady Cubs volleyball aims to climb to the next level in the tough District 17-3A
CLIFTON — Sometimes, achieving goals requires the patience of taking it one step at a time. And that’s exactly what the Clifton Lady Cubs volleyball program has done over the last two seasons. But after showing steady improvement, the Lady Cubs enter the 2021 Texas high school volleyball season expecting to qualify for the Class 3A postseason.
With 11 returning players, it’s easy to see why. Despite showing flashes of promise last season, District 17-3A proved to be too much to handle for a young Lady Cub squad with only one senior on the roster. But this season, Clifton plans on taking the next step to the promise land.
“I think I have a great and strong group coming back,” said Clifton volleyball head coach Paige Poth, entering her third season leading the Lady Cubs. “The expectation is playoffs. All of them have shown leadership with preparing for this new season, and it will take all of them to compete and fight for that playoff spot.”
After playing a pair of scrimmages against Bruceville-Eddy and Hamilton last Friday at the Clifton High Gym, the Lady Cubs will open the regular season on the road at Hico Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. before returning home to host the annual Clifton Varsity Tournament Aug. 12-14.
“The girls looked great at the scrimmage,” Poth said. “It was a great way to start off the new season. We are excited to compete with Hico tonight.
“In our tournament, we will get to face some good teams. We are excited to have tournaments back and get a lot of competition before district starts.”
With an experienced team returning to the court this season, Poth plans to focus on the mental aspects of competing against some of the best competition in the state simply to get out of district.
“As always, we will work on improving each aspect of the game,”Poth said. “But we are really focusing on competing with some of the best teams around in order to prepare us for our district. We are returning to tournaments, and we are playing some tough opponents. But each of those games will get us ready for district play.”
Throughout the 2020 season, the tough District 17-3A included two state-ranked teams, the Troy Lady Trojans (11-1 in district, 24-5 overall) and the Lorena Lady Leopards (11-1, 23-4). Clifton (3-9, 7-13) finished tied for fifth in district, just one spot out of advancing to the playoffs.
“We definitely played in a competitive district, but we held our own and fought each game,” Poth said. “I was proud of the way the girls fought and played last season. Looking at the progress, we finished a spot higher than the previous season and made huge steps in continuing to develop our program.
“We have 11 kids coming back this year ready to pick up where we left off. I’m very excited to see where this new season takes us.”
The Lady Cubs certainly have some talent returning to work with this season, including first-team, all-district senior Ava Anderson, second-team, all-district selections senior Kamryn Zint and sophomore Brianna Gonzalez, as well as honorable mentions junior Carley Caniford along with sophomores Kate Humphreys and Sydney Fullerton.
“Those kids worked hard all season and earned the honors,” Poth said. “I am very proud of this group of girls for their hard work last season on the court and in the classroom. And I’m looking forward to an awesome new season this year.”
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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