As first round of district wraps up, Clifton Lady Cubs build momentum with four-match winning streak in District 17-3A competition
On the strength of a four-match winning streak in District 17-3A competition, the Clifton Lady Cub volleyball program has come of age and shows signs of being the team they have worked hard to become.
After sweeping past arch-rival Whitney at home Sept. 17 for their first District 17-3A win, the Lady Cubs (4-2 in district, 17-10 overall) held off the resurgent McGregor Lady Bulldogs in four sets on the road Sept. 21 to climb right back in the race for a postseason berth. Then with back-to-back dominating wins over Waco Harmony Science Academy last Friday and the Riesel Lady Indians Tuesday, Clifton has moved onto a solid position to control its own destiny when the second round of district begins next Tuesday.
But first things first. Concluding the first round of District 17-3A, the Lady Cubs travel to Troy to take on the 11th-ranked Lady Trojans (5-1, 29-4) in their fourth consecutive road game at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Clifton will wrap up a five-game road trip against 13th-ranked West (5-1, 23-8) to open the second round of district next Tuesday.
Starting strong and finishing with relentless determination as senior Ava Anderson smashed a team-high 13 kills, the Lady Cubs swept Riesel in straight sets, 25-13, 25-9, 25-11, Tuesday to extend their winning streak despite going two straight weeks of playing on the road.
“As the game started, we were playing point by point,” Clifton volleyball head coach Paige Poth said. “And in the first set, we finally found a run that closed the set. After that, we had rhythm to close the sets and keep our errors to a minimum. I think our team performed exceptionally well, especially focusing on our game goals.”
Senior Kamryn Zint delivered a team-high seven service aces and 10 digs, sophomore Sydney Fullerton dished out 17 assists, and junior Camryn Caniford contributed six kills to lead Clifton.
“After we watched the film, we set goals for ourselves each game,” Poth said. “And the girls have done a great job focusing on those goals, as well as each point in the match. We have talked about each game in front of us being the most important game; that was going to be our game plan. I really feel that they are doing a great job sticking to the game plan.”
Riding the wave of earning hard-fought district wins over Whitney and McGregor, the Lady Cubs plowed past Waco Harmony Science Academy in straight sets, 25-5, 25-12, 25-8, last Friday afternoon.
“The match against Harmony went well,” Poth said. “Our primary focus was working on the goals we have set in place for ourselves. It was a great win to finish the week, especially after our big win against McGregor. I think we are doing a great job in district play focusing on one game at a time.”
Carley Caniford attacked Harmony for a team-high 14 kills, followed by Anderson with nine. Zint nailed six service aces, followed by sophomore Laylah Gaona and Camryn Cainford with five each. Senior Sara Slater and Zint led Clifton with four digs apiece, while Fullerson dished out 12 assists.
Inspired by getting their first district win over the Whitney, the Lady Cubs rose to the challenge against McGregor by defeating the Lady Bulldogs, 3-1, to even their district record and move into position to battle for a playoff berth.
“The game was great, it was an awesome win,” 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.”
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.
After snapping a four-game losing streak Aug. 28, the Lady Cubs (3-2, 16-10) have won six of their last eight matchups. But with Anderson smashing 14 kills, followed by 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 Zint delivered a team-high five service aces, followed by 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.
In the midst of playing five consecutive district contests on the road, the Lady Cubs travel to Riesel to take on the Lady Indians Tuesday night before visiting the 11th-ranked Troy Lady Trojans at 4:30 p.m. Friday to wrap up the first round of district play.
“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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