Building momentum from a hard-fought loss to state-ranked Lorena, the Class 3A Clifton Lady Cubs surge into District 17-3A race
McGREGOR — Just when they needed it most, the Clifton Lady Cub volleyball program got the kind of victory it has been working hard to achieve. In fact, they got two in a row.
After sweeping past arch-rival Whitney at home last Friday for their first District 17-3A win, the Lady Cubs held off the resurgent McGregor Lady Bulldogs in four sets on the road Tuesday night to climb right back in the race for a postseason berth.
“The game was great, it was an awesome win,” Clifton volleyball head coach Paige Poth said. “It takes all of us to win. And everyone did their part and successfully did their job.
“Going in to the game, the team discussed focusing on the next point and playing in the present, and we did just that. The second set, we allowed too many errors on our part. But the third game, we bounced back and played aggressive and executed the game plan to close the match.”
In other district action Tuesday, 15th-ranked West (4-0 in district, 22-8 overall) rolled past Riesel, 25-10, 25-7, 25-11, 12th-ranked Troy (3-1, 20-4) pounded Harmony Science Academy, 25-3, 25-1, 25-4, and seventh-ranked Lorena (4-0, 24-4) swept past Whitney.
Responding to back-to-back district losses in convincing fashion, the Lady Cubs survived a hard-fought first set then carried the wave of momentum to a dominating sweep over the Whitney Lady Wildcats, 25-22, 25-16, 25-14, in a key District 17-3A showdown last Friday afternoon at the Clifton High School Gymnasium.
After snapping a four-game losing streak Aug. 28, the Lady Cubs (2-2, 15-10) have won five of their last seven matchups. But with senior Ava Anderson smashing 14 kills, followed by Junior Carley Caniford with 12, none have been more important that their first district win over Whitney.
“The girls had a great win over Whitney,” Poth said. “The entire team worked together to find a way to score. And defensively, we progressed as each match went on. Many times, we came from behind to even the score and take leads, successfully closing the game each set.”
Senior Kamryn Zint delivered a team-high five service aces, followed by sophomore Sydney Fullerton with four. Anderson led the Lady Cubs with 11 digs, followed by Zint with eight and Fullerton with six. In the ball handling department, Fullerton offered a team-high 35 assists, while Zint led with 19 service receptions, followed by Anderson and senior Kasandra Gaona with eight each.
After dropping their district opener against the 2020 postseason qualifying West Lady Trojans in disappointing fashion Sept. 10, the Lady Cubs began building some momentum with a strong effort against the state-ranked and district co-leading Lorena Lady Leopards.
Settling down after the first set, the Lady Cubs took their game to the next level to give Lorena (3-0, 23-4) all they could handle before losing in straight sets, 25-17, 25-20, 26-24, on the road last Tuesday.
“It was an exciting game to be a part of,” Poth said. “We have been working hard on minimizing errors and each set. Our serve receive was fantastic with minimal error. All of our hitters were active, and our setter was getting a hand on every ball. Our defense made the right adjustments to hold their offense. Offensively, the girls found ways to score.”
Anderson crushed a team-high 15 kills, came up with 13 digs and contributed 10 service receptions, sophomore Brianna Gonzalez followed with four kills and Fullerton led Clifton with 20 assists, 10 digs with three kills. Senior Kasandra Gaona delivered two service aces, Zint led the Lady Cubs with 21 service receptions, and sophomore Laylah Gaona added 11 more.
In other action last Friday, Lorena took three straight from Riesel, 25-6, 25-12, 25-16, Troy swept past McGregor, 25-19, 25-11, 25-9, and West made quick work of Harmony Science Academy, 25-3, 25-0, 25-2.
The Lady Cubs began a stretch of five consecutive district road games this week with the trip to McGregor before traveling to Waco to face Harmony Science Academy at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
“We are a very competitive team,” Poth said. “Like any other team in the district, we are working hard to make it into the top four teams. Our expectation is to be one of those top four teams, and we are confident going into this district play together and meeting those expectations together.”
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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