Monthly archive

October 2021

TAKING THE NEXT STEP

in Volleyball

After lying dormant for 41 years, Meridian Lady Jacket volleyball program advances to Class 2A playoffs for second straight season

MERIDIAN – Qualifying for the Class 2A postseason for the second straight season after rebooting the volleyball program in 2020, the Meridian Lady Jackets took the next step in re-establishing its program to past glory in 2021.

Wrapping up the District 11-2A regular season last Saturday, the Lady Jackets snapped a five-match losing streak to knock off the Bluff Dale Lady Bobcats for the second time this season, 25-17, 25-19, 22-25, 25-17, and secure a spot in the Class 2A playoffs.

“I am beyond proud of our girls,” Meridian volleyball first-year head coach Lauren Cartwright said. “They have overcome so much this season. We have heard comments from other teams about their vast improvement, even the officials are impressed with all they have learned and been able to accomplish in such a short time.”

With an open date on Friday, the Lady Jackets celebrated the close to a solid season for the Meridian junior varsity team with the Annual Meridian vs. Meridian game.

“Our seniors coached their underclassmen team,” Cartwright said. “It was a fun night of celebration.”

Now, the Lady Jackets (3-9 in district, 6-18 overall) will turn their attention to facing the Class 2A’s top-ranked and defending state champion Crawford Lady Pirates (37-6) in a Bi-District playoff matchup on Monday, Nov. 1 at 6 p.m. AT Valley Mills High School.

But for the young and inexperienced Lady Jacket squad, it wasn’t easy along the way.

Before losing to playoff-bound Tolar in straight sets last Tuesday, Meridian honored the seniors prior to the Three Way rematch at Yellowjacket Gymnasium Oct. 12. The Lady Jackets split the first two sets with Three Way before coming up just short in the third and ultimately succumbing to the Lady Indians in four, 25-17, 20-25, 25-23, 25-15. In the process, Three Way avenged a heartbreaking five-set loss to the Lady Jackets in the first round of district.

Then on Oct. 16, the playoff-bound Hico Lady Tigers swept past the Lady Jackets, 25-10, 25-15, 25-16.

“Moving forward, our focus is finish strong,” Cartwright said. “We began our season, eager to play and students came with a competitive nature we hadn’t seen in our program before. Winning three scrimmages straight out of the gate was a huge confidence booster and proved to the girls they are capable of more than they realize.”

Opening 2021 with a new head coach, the Meridian volleyball program embarked on its second season since rebooting the sport following a 41-year hiatus.

Although the Lady Jackets own a long history of playing volleyball, the program was initially dropped following the 1973-74 school year. Meridian reinstated volleyball for the 1978-79 school year, but promptly dropped it again the following season.

Prior to the 2020 season, MISD athletic director Wade Morton and MISD superintendent Kim Edwards locked in and decided to bring volleyball back.

“It was exciting to kick-off the second year of volleyball at Meridian, following such a long absence of the sport in our school,” said Cartwright. “Our program motto this year has been “We Before Me. Every player is being encouraged and equipped to lead in their own way, whether they are a vocal leader or they lead through the work ethic and heart they bring to practice every day. Every player matters.

“As a young program, we are working to build a solid foundation that can be built upon for years to come.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

GRIDIRON SCOREBOARD: WEEK 10

in Scores/Standings/Stats

Class 3A, 2A & 1A high school football scores from the Heart of Texas region

FINAL UPDATE: 7:05 a.m., Saturday, October 30, 2021

Here are Friday’s final scores for the Class 3A, 2A and 1A Texas high school football games from around the Heart of Texas region.

Be sure to check back with THE SPORTS BUZZ for up-to-the-minute updates throughout the weekend for scores from the 2021 Texas high school football postseason.

On location for the Game of the Week in Cranfills Gap this weekend, THE SPORTS BUZZ provides award-winning coverage of the 2021 Texas high school football season every week, focusing on Class 3A, 2A and 1A schools in the 10-county Heart of Texas region — which includes Bosque, Comanche, Coryell, Erath, Hamilton, Hill, Hood, Johnson, McLennan and Somervell counties.

Don’t forget to check in with THE SPORTS BUZZ every Friday night for the complete scoreboard from games across the Heart of Texas region.

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

STILL IN THE CONVERSATION

in Football

Coming out of open week, Clifton Cubs remain in contention for postseason berth in top heavy District 13-3A, DII, visit top-ranked Franklin Friday

Coming out of their open week in district and riding high from their first win of the season, the Clifton Cubs return to action Friday in the middle of the District 13-3A, Division II postseason conversation.

Remarkably in what has turned out to be a top heavy district, the Cubs enter the final two weeks of the 2021 Texas high school football regular season in a virtual four-way tie for fourth place and remain in contention for third place.

Needing at least one win in the final two games to stay in the mix, Clifton (1-3 in district, 1-7 overall) hits the road to take on the Class 3A, DII’s top-ranked and undefeated Franklin Lions (5-0, 9-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

“Currently, every team in the district is still in the hunt,” Clifton head coach Chuck Caniford said. “The bottom line for us is that we have to beat Lexington in the last game of the year to keep ourselves in the mix. This game against Franklin could certainly help us, but either way you still have to beat Lexington because of the tie-breakers. We are excited to still have the opportunity to compete for a spot and will do everything we can to make that happen.”

Coming off their open week, the Cubs should be rested and healthy for the stretch run. And certainly, Clifton notching its first win of the season in thrilling, dramatic fashion with a 33-32 last second victory over Buffalo put the Cubs in the right frame of mind to build on.

“The first thing the open week did was allow us an opportunity to get some guys healed up,” Caniford said. “We were pretty banged up after the Buffalo game, so it gave those guys a chance to get a lot of mental reps without the wear and tear on their body. We primarily focused on the areas that we need to improve the last two weeks of the regular season in order to give ourselves a chance to stay in the mix in the standings.”

With the ground game producing 77.6 percent of Clifton’s offense, sophomore Riley Finney leads the Cubs with 725 yards and six touchdown, followed closely by senior Will Simmons with 703 yards and six scores.

Through the air, senior quarterback Robert Goodman has completed 48 of 108 passes for 538 yards with four interceptions and three touchdowns, connecting with his primary target sophomore Andres Devora 13 times for 174 yards and a score while Jadyn Simmons leads the Cubs with two touchdown receptions.

Defensively, Finney leads Clifton with 58 tackles, followed by junior Makail Brandenberger with 30 takedowns, senior Carlos Villarreal with 26, sophomore Parker Tunnell with 23 and senior Griffin Phillips with 22, while Devora has pulled down two interceptions and Simmons has come up with two fumble recoveries.

But realistically, the Cubs will have their hands full on the road this Friday night. On the season, Franklin has outscored opponents, 518-107, riding a 16-game regular season win streak. The Lions have scored more than 70 points in three of their previous five district games, completely overwhelming Florence, 73-6, and Buffalo, 77-3, coming into their regular season finale against Clifton.

“They are one of the most complete teams that I have seen in over 25 years of coaching,” Caniford said.  “They have tremendous depth, especially at the skill positions. They are not complicated in what they do, they just do it really well. The key for us on both sides of the ball is going to be first down. 

“Offensively, we have to stay ahead of the chains. Defensively, we have to force them into passing situations.  It will be a tremendous challenge, but our kids are excited about the opportunity ahead of us.”

Photos by WENDY OROZCO

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

GRIDIRON MATCHUPS: WEEK 10

in Scores/Standings/Stats

With only two weeks remaining in the Heart of Texas Class 3A, 2A & 1A district races, key showdowns on tap under the Friday night lights this week

As the 2021 Texas high school football season heads into the final two weeks of the regular season, the Class 3A, 2A and 1A district races across the Heart of Texas take shape with crucial matchups on the schedule.

In the first of two THE SPORTS BUZZ Games of the Week, the Hico Tigers capitalized on turnovers to totally dominate the Meridian Yellowjackets, 42-0, Thursday night in a District 8-2A, Division II do-or-die showdown.

In Bosque County, the Friday night spotlight remains on six-man football as the five teams in a league all their own continue the scramble to stay alive in the battle for District 12-1A, Division II’s two postseason berths.

This week in the Battle for the Bosque, the 2020 district runnerup Walnut Springs Hornets (2-1 in district, 4-5 overall) will be idle as the rejuvenated Iredell Dragons (1-1, 3-3) will host the defending district champion Morgan Eagles (1-1, 1-5) in THE SPORTS BUZZ Games of the Week Friday night while the 25th-ranked front-running Cranfills Gap Lions (2-0, 5-3) will visit the winless Kopperl Eagles (0-3, 0-7).

In other Heart of Texas six-man action, the Class 1A, DI’s third-ranked Jonesboro Eagles (2-0, 9-0) will visit the co-district leading Lometa Hornets (2-0, 7-1) in a showdown for first place in District 15-1A, DI. Another key matchup includes the fourth-ranked Abbott Panthers (1-0, 8-0) hosting the Aquilla Cougars (1-0, 4-3) for the top spot in District 12-1A, DII.

In Class 2A action, DI’s fourth-ranked Crawford Pirates (4-0, 8-0) visit the cellar dwelling Itasca Wampus Cats (0-3, 1-6), while the Tolar Rattlers (3-1, 6-2) visit the Bosqueville Bulldogs (3-1, 5-3) in a crucial District 7-2A, DI showdown for second place.

But when it comes to Class 3A action, DI’s sixth-ranked West Trojans (4-0, 8-0) comes out of an open week to face the seventh-ranked Grandview Zebras (5-0, 8-1) in a battle for District 7-3A, DI supremacy.

Once again this season, THE SPORTS BUZZ will provide award-winning coverage of the 2021 Texas high school football season, focusing on Class 3A, 2A and 1A schools in the 10-county Heart of Texas region — which includes Bosque, Comanche, Coryell, Erath, Hamilton, Hill, Hood, Johnson, McLennan and Somervell counties.

Be sure to check in with THE SPORTS BUZZ every Thursday to find the complete schedule for teams from the Heart of Texas region. Then follow THE SPORTS BUZZ for up-to-the-minute final scores as they become available throughout the weekend.

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

GRIDIRON GURUS: WEEK 10

in Predictions

PUTTING IT ON THE LINE: Picking Heart of Texas high school football games, NCAA college football games in Texas, as well as the Cowboys & the Texans

As we turn down the home stretch of the high school football regular season with a full slate of games scheduled at all levels of high school, college and professional football, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel must sort out the high school district races across the Heart of Texas, solve the puzzle of college teams bouncing up and down the national rankings, and figure out which NFL team will win on any given Sunday.

Throughout the rest of the 2021 football season, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel will test their luck picking a slate of high school football games across the Heart of Texas, a selection of Texas college football games, as well as matchups involving the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

Joining THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel this season will be Toney Rogers, a local business owner in the Heart of Texas, while Don Nicholas, Field Representative for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams (TX-25), Meridian Yellowjacket football head coach Wade Morton and The Sports Buzz’ Brett Voss return from last year.

Last week, Tony (34-10) only missed one high school pick, but came back down to earth in the college games, Don (34-10) had a strong week to slip back into second place overall, while Wade (30-14) had a rough week picking the high school games. Brett (35-9) grabbed the top spot with a balanced pick sheet.

Join us every Thursday throughout the 2021 football season as THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick their winners for a select group of the week’s high school games, your favorite college teams from the NCAA Div. I, Div. II and Div. III, as well as the state’s two NFL teams, the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

Be sure to make your picks as well!

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

PLAYING FOR POSITION

in Football

Battle for the Bosque takes shape as Walnut Springs, Morgan post crucial wins with 25th-ranked frontrunner Cranfills Gap idle

While the Class 1A, Division II’s 25th-ranked Cranfills Gap Lions enjoyed an open date last week while at the top of the District 12-1A, DII standings, the all-Bosque County league’s other four teams battled for positioning to make a run at a postseason berth.

Once the Friday night lights went off on the Battle for the Bosque, the Walnut Springs Hornets controlled their own destiny while the defending district champion Morgan Eagles took the first step toward setting up a season finale showdown for a playoff spot.

WALNUT SPRINGS 62, IREDELL 14

Keeping themselves in the playoff picture, the Walnut Springs Hornets posted a convincing 62-14 victory over Iredell Dragons last Friday to move into sole possession of second place in District 12-1A, DII.

Overcoming three turnovers including an interception on the first play from scrimmage, the Hornets (2-1 in district, 4-5 overall) took advantage of two Iredell (1-1, 3-3) fumbles and the safety by Jesse Lamb.

“I was real proud of our guys maintaining their composure with a couple of turnovers that allowed Iredell to take an early 14-12 lead,” Walnut Springs head coach Lonnie Flippen said. “Earlier in the year, the same thing happened in a couple of games and we were not able to get it back together. Maybe we are maturing and coming together as a team at the right time of the season.”

Diego Muniz scored four touchdowns, while Josue Ontiveros tossed two scoring strikes, one to his brother Jordan Ontiveros for 41 yards and the other one to Anthony Muniz for 42 yards. Bryan Chavez ran for a touchdown and converted on six of seven two-point kicks, and Brenden Shumake closed out the scoring on a 44-yard run.

Defensively, Anthony Muniz led the Hornets with 13 tackles, Lamb contributed 11 tackles along with a safety, while Luis Fraire had two big defensive plays that put the Dragons in a hole.

“We were able to get a good start, but we could not stay consistent on both sides of the ball,” Iredell head coach Luis Guereca said. “In the end, Walnut Springs played well, and we could not keep up the scoring.”

MORGAN 50, KOPPERL 0

Snapping a five-game losing streak and posting their first district win of the season, the defending district champion Morgan Eagles soared to a 50-0 victory over the young and rebuilding Kopperl Eagles last Friday night.

“Our goal for this game was to work on executing our offense,” Morgan head coach Edward Aviles said. “We needed everyone to do their job to improve our scoring. We worked on recognizing situations and anticipating our opponents play-calling. We were fortunate to work on my younger players development.”

With the win, Morgan (1-1, 1-5) moved into a tie for third place with Iredell before the two teams face each other in a battle for survival this week. Kason Sims tossed three touchdown passes while Dathen Davenport and Adrian Vera-Rico scored twice apiece to lead Morgan over Kopperl (0-3, 0-7).

“Each week has been about growth and moving forward for us,” Kopperl first-year head coach Aaron Maxwell said. “Unfortunately, we’re still struggling to find the end zone. But over the last couple weeks, we have found a bit of a passing game and that has opened up some things for us.”

Although Kopperl failed to get into the end zone, Isaac Payen filling in admirably at quarterback connecting with Jaxson Smith for a couple of big catches, while Anthony Johnson and Christian Falk performed well in the backfield.

Christian Falk continues to shine on defense, especially in pass defense, while Michael Ensor put consistent pressure on the quarterback this week. “We are so proud of the boy’s continued hustle and grit to play every down that they have,” Maxwell said. “And that determination will serve us well in the future.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

DO-OR-DIE TIME

in Football

Despite disappointing loss at Cross Plains, Meridian Yellowjackets still alive in District 8-2A, DII battle for postseason berths

MERIDIAN – Getting an open week in the 2021 Texas high school football schedule could not have come at a better time for the Meridian Yellowjackets as they get ready for the stretch run in the District 8-2A, Division race.

Coming off the high of claiming their first win of the season with a convincing 47-19 victory over the Waco Texas Wind on Homecoming Night at Jacket Stadium Oct. 1, Meridian suffered its worst lost in recent memory at the hands of Class 2A, DII’s fourth-ranked and undefeated defending district champion Albany Lions, 84-7, to open district competition.

With that one out of the way, the Jackets used the open week to heal some nagging injuries and focus on what needs to be done to claim Meridian’s first postseason berth since 2017.

“The bye week allowed for us to get healthy with some players that were injured,” Meridian head coach Wade Morton. “And now, they will be able to come back to help us compete.”

Despite suffering a disappointing loss coming out of their open week, the Jackets still have plenty to play for during the final two weeks of the 2021 Texas high school football season. Hoping to quickly put their decisive 60-12 loss to the Cross Plains Buffaloes in District 8-2A, Division II action last Friday night behind them, the Jackets (0-2 in district, 1-7 overall) turn their attention to this week’s crucial showdown against the Hico Tigers at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Jacket Stadium.

After posting a surprising 14-6 victory over Cross Plains, Hico (1-2, 4-5) comes into this week’s clash on the heels of back-to-back losses to the Class 2A, DII’s fourth-ranked and undefeated Albany Lions (2-0, 8-0), 57-0, and the second place Santo Wildcats (2-0, 8-0), 34-14.

“Hico is senior heavy and have seasoned players on their team,” Meridian head coach Wade Morton said.  “With very few seniors the last three years, we have young, seasoned players, and we’re looking for them to step up this week.”

Coming into last week’s game, the Jackets felt good about their chances against Cross Plains (1-2, 5-3). But it turned out to be a tough night for the Meridian against one of the district’s pre-season favorite to return to the playoffs.

“We played well,” Morton said. “Cross Plains is good and a lot like us four years ago. Coach Purvis and his staff do a good job and have been given time to build the program.”

Offensively, the Jackets threw the ball more against Cross Plains than any other game this season. Quarterback Matthew Jones completed 13 of 22 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown, connecting with Brayden Wehmeyer for the score, while Brady Taylor led the Jackets with seven receptions for 90 yards. John Bernal made up most of the Meridian ground game, gaining 84 yards on eight carries with a touchdown.

“We have a young quarterback, so it all comes down to what he can handle and absorb,” Morton said.  “We’ve been able to open it up with his confidence getting stronger.” 

But with the Buffaloes putting 60 points on the scoreboard, the deficit proved to be more than the Jackets could overcome. Bernal led Meridian with eight tackles, followed by Jose Martinez with seven as well as Dustan Bowers, Alejandro Rodriguez and CJ Gentry with four each.

“Defensively, we’re there to make plays,” Morton said. “Defense, along with tackling, is a want too. And we’re getting better, but need more.”

Going into the final two games of the regular season, Bernal leads the Jackets in rushing with 708 yards on 104 carries and five touchdowns and in receiving with 14 catches for 77 yards. But before getting injuries in the third game of the season, Brady Taylor averaged 136.3 yards rushing per game with five touchdowns. Wehmeyer has rushed for 439 yards and four touchdowns while completing 11 of 19 passes for 56 yards, while Jones has completed 14 of 33 passes for 140 yards.

Defensively, Alejandro Rodriguez leads Meridian with 40 tackles and an interception, followed by Wehmeyer with 23 takedowns, and Bernal with three interceptions.

Despite the dominating, imposing and undefeated teams fielded by Albany and the Santo Wildcats, at the top of the district, the rest of the pack does not appear as formidable. With a real chance to challenge for a playoff berth, the Jackets must win against Hico to stay in contention before closing out the regular season at Santo Nov. 5.

“Our district is formidable enough,” Morton said. “And the fact that Cross Plains had lost back to back games before playing us just gave them even more motivation to take care of business at home.With us being the closest to full strength as possible since week two, it should be ready to compete. We can only focus on getting in the win column at the end of the night Friday. There is no looking ahead.”

Photos by WENDY OROZCO

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

GRIDIRON SCOREBOARD: WEEK 9

in Scores/Standings/Stats

Class 3A, 2A & 1A high school football scores from the Heart of Texas region

(FINAL UPDATE: 11:35 p.m., Friday, October 22, 2021)

Here are Friday’s final scores for the Class 3A, 2A and 1A Texas high school football games from around the Heart of Texas region.

Be sure to check back with THE SPORTS BUZZ for up-to-the-minute updates throughout the weekend for scores from the 2021 Texas high school football postseason.

On location for the Game of the Week in Walnut Springs this weekend, THE SPORTS BUZZ provides award-winning coverage of the 2021 Texas high school football season every week, focusing on Class 3A, 2A and 1A schools in the 10-county Heart of Texas region — which includes Bosque, Comanche, Coryell, Erath, Hamilton, Hill, Hood, Johnson, McLennan and Somervell counties.

Don’t forget to check in with THE SPORTS BUZZ every Friday night for the complete scoreboard from games across the Heart of Texas region.

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

GRIDIRON GURUS: WEEK 9

in Predictions

PUTTING IT ON THE LINE: Picking Heart of Texas high school football games, NCAA college football games in Texas, as well as the Cowboys & the Texans

With a full slate of games scheduled at all levels of high school, college and professional football, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel attempt to sort out the high school district races across the Heart of Texas, solve the puzzle of college teams bouncing up and down the national rankings, and figure out which NFL team will win on any given Sunday.

Throughout the rest of the 2021 football season, THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel will test their luck picking a slate of high school football games across the Heart of Texas, a selection of Texas college football games, as well as matchups involving the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

Joining THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick’ems panel this season will be Toney Rogers, a local business owner in the Heart of Texas, while Don Nicholas, Field Representative for U.S. Congressman Roger Williams (TX-25), Meridian Yellowjacket football head coach Wade Morton and The Sports Buzz’ Brett Voss return from last year.

Congrats to Toney for having a great bounce back week (34-6) after struggling for several weeks, tying Brett (34-6) for last week’s top spot with both Don (31-9) and Wade (31-9) close behind with very good showings as well. While THE SPORTS BUZZ prognosticators were practically knotted up after the high school games, Toney only missed two of 23 college picks to seize the day.

Join us every Thursday throughout the 2021 football season as THE SPORTS BUZZ Gridiron Gurus pick their winners for a select group of the week’s high school games, your favorite college teams from the NCAA Div. I, Div. II and Div. III, as well as the state’s two NFL teams, the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.

Be sure to make your picks as well!

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

POSTSEASON BOUND

in Volleyball

Clinching their first Class 3A volleyball playoff appearance since 2014, the Clifton Lady Cubs riding three-match win streak during stretch run

CLIFTON – Claiming their first playoff berth in eight years, the Class 3A Clifton Lady Cubs volleyball can start looking ahead to the postseason riding a three-match win streak after totally dominating the Waco Harmony Academy Lady Tigers, 25-2, 25-4, 25-11, for a District 17-3A victory Tuesday evening in the Clifton High Gymnasium.

“Waco Harmony was a great win for us,” Clifton volleyball head coach Paige Poth said. “The girls did a great job again focusing on minimizing errors and pushing through every play. It was an exciting night for us. Winning this game sealed us into the top four teams in the district and getting that playoff spot. I was very proud of their focus that game and overall proud of how they have done this season.”

Now, Clifton (7-5 in district, 20-15 overall) will wrap up the regular season with two more home games, hosting Riesel (2-10, 15-19) at 4:30 p.m. Friday before closing out the district schedule against 14th-ranked Troy (10-2, 26-5) next Tuesday. Class 3A’s sixth-ranked Lorana (12-0, 32-4) remains at the top of the district standings, while previously state-ranked West (10-2, 26-6) stands deadlocked with Troy for second.

After opening the stretch run last week with an important win over arch-rival Whitney, the Lady Cubs volleyball team left no doubt they’re deserving as they swept past the McGregor Lady Bulldogs, 25-17, 25-11, 25-12, for a convincing win last Friday to wrap up a week that saw back-to-back wins.

Junior Carley Caniford led the Lady Cubs with 15 kills, followed by senior Ava Anderson and sophomore Kate Humphreys with nine each. Senior Kamryn Zint contributed a team-high 12 digs and 12 service receptions, while sophomore Sydney Fullerton handled 33 assists.

“Friday was a fantastic win, and it was a great way to finish off the week,” Poth said. “We got out and competed. But most importantly, they focused on the team they are capable of being and played their best. I was very proud of how they handled the week. It was an important week, especially for us to ensure we secure our spot in the top four teams.”

In a battle for the fourth place playoff berth in district, the Lady Cubs swept past the four teams that stood in their way during the first round of district competition. And by knocking off Harmony (0-12, 0-19), McGregor (3-9, 5-20), Whitney (5-8, 9-18) for a second time, the Lady Cubs secured their first postseason appearance since 2014.

“With those three wins, we have secured that fourth place spot in the district,” Poth said. “But this week, we still have Riesel to take care of. We are working to ensure that we are taking care of what needs to get done as we head into the playoffs.”

Snapping a three-match losing streak while three of the best teams in the state perched at the top of District 17-3A, the Lady Cubs swept the Whitney Lady Wildcats in straight sets, 25-22, 25-15, 25-18, on the road last Tuesday.

Anderson led Clifton with 13 kills and 15 service receptions, followed by Carley Caniford with nine and Humphreys with five. Fullerton contributed a team-high 14 digs, 27 assists and two service aces, Zint came up with 13 digs and 14 service receptions, while senior Kasandra Gaona delivered a team-high three service aces.

“It was a hard fought game,” Poth said following the match. “This group has been very disciplined in executing a game plan. And the thing is; our girls don’t quit. They don’t give up on any play, on any ball, or any game. Friday night against McGregor, we have to go in with the same mentality and same energy as we did against Whitney.”

And that’s exactly what the Lady Cubs did.

“The opportunity was present,” Poth said. “In the first round, we proved that we can get the job done. The teams we played were tough, but we have proven that we are able to play with those state-ranked teams. It has taken all of us, but I had no doubt that the girls would get in and get the job done.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2021 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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