in Volleyball

Wrapping up tournament time in the tough San Marcos event, Class 3A Clifton Lady Cubs continue preparation for District 17-3A play

Producing a mixed bag of results while playing seven matches last week, the Clifton Lady Cub volleyball squad continues to gain experience and build momentum as they navigate through the pre-season schedule in preparation for the tough District 17-13A race that lies ahead.

With only two non-district matches remaining, Clifton (12-9) lost their match scheduled for Tuesday as Class 4A Waco Connally cancelled due to Covid concerns. The Lady Cubs get their final district dress rehearsal when they hit the road to take on Class 4A Hillsboro Friday at 4:30 p.m.

Opening the slate of matches with Senior Night last Tuesday, the Lady Cubs swept the Comanche Maidens in three straight sets, 25-13, 25-13, 25-14, at the Clifton High School Gymnasium.

“It was a great win,” Clifton volleyball head coach Paige Poth said. “It was our first home game and our girls came out strong from the beginning. We played hard every single point. Our offense was quick as well as our defense. We kept our errors minimal and bounced back quickly from any error made.”

But when signing the Lady Cubs up to play in the San Marcos Ragin’ Rattler Tournament Aug. 26-28, Poth knew her team would be challenged by Class 6A teams and more.

“We played up against some great teams from all classifications,” Clifton volleyball head coach Paige Poth said. “We made some big plays against those teams, and took away many lessons that will move over to the practice court.”

After opening the tournament by losing four straight matches to Class 4A Corpus Christi Calallen, 25-23, 25-20, Class 5A Pflugerville Hendrickson, 25-17, 25-14, Class 6A Austin Bowie, and Class 6A San Angelo Central, the Lady Cubs rebounded to win their last two matches against Class 5A Manor and Class 5A Bastrop Cedar Creek, 17-25, 25-23, 25-7, to take third place in the Copper Bracket.

“It was a big turning point for our offense and a great tournament for the girls to learn to move through adversity and bounce back. I would say that resiliency is one of our strengths, and it was noticed in the tournament this weekend.”

Coming off a dominating road victory over the Rio Vista Lady Eagles Aug. 17, the Lady Cubs struggled in the highly-competitive Glen Rose Tournament Aug. 20-21. After dropping three matches to Grandview, Wimberley and Sanger, Clifton rebounded to beat Carter Riverside and Tolar before falling to Class 5A Cleburne in the Bronze Bracket Championship Game.

“We played great teams, and we saw opponents that were similar to teams in our district,” Poth said. “We are working on competing at all times on the court, and this weekend in San Marcos, we are going to see great teams again. The girls are doing a really great job working together and competing against really good teams around the state.”

Before hosting the Clifton Tournament Aug. 12 & 14, the Lady Cubs opened the season with a road trip to Hico Aug. 10 and rolled to an impressive three set sweep, 25-8, 25-21, 25-15. Senior Ava Anderson led Clifton with 14 kills followed by junior Carley Caniford with 11, while junior Camryn Caniford contributed five service aces and two blocks, senior Kamryn Zint provided four aces and 10 digs, and sophomore Sidney Fullerton delivered 30 assists.

“Right from the start, we just did everything right,” Poth said. “We never gave up too many points in one rotation, which has been our goal from day one. Our offensive game was strong as well. Our setter did a really good job running the offense, and our hitters did a great job putting down the balls and scoring. “Defensively, the passers did an amazing job running down balls and getting them right to the setter so we could run our offense. Great way to start the season.”

Carrying that momentum into the Clifton Tournament, the Lady Cubs posted three straight victories in pool play Aug. 12, dominating Hillsboro, 25-20, 25-11; Hico, 25-16, 25-14; and Comanche, 25-8, 25-8.

On Saturday, the Lady Cubs extended their streak of winning 13 straight sets by knocking off Tolar, 25-13, 27-25, in the opening round of the championship bracket before eliminating Waco LaVega, 25-15, 25-16, advancing to the title game.

But North Central Texas Academy proved to be too much to handle in the championship game, 2-1, as Clifton settled for second place.

“I was very proud and excited for the teams we played, and also for us playing the way we did,” Poth said. “The all-around heart and hustle that was displayed at that tournament was incredible. We faced tough opponents and players, and I think that is exactly what is getting us ready for district play.”

Bouncing back from the hard-fought loss the tournament championship game, the Lady Cubs responded with a straight set victory over Rio Vista, 3-0, last Tuesday.

“We played great against Rio Vista,” Poth said. “We came out strong and kept the momentum throughout the entire game.

“Resiliency was a major positive take away from our tournament. There were a couple times we were in eight to nine-point deficits, and we just found a way to catch up and come back. It was amazing. I saw so much fight in our girls this weekend and so much competitiveness.

“A big part of our success was our momentum and energy the entire team brought. On the court, we were loud, on the sidelines, we were loud. It was fun to watch and be a part of. Overall, the entire team made our tournament a successful. I was so proud of every single one of them.”


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