Clifton Lady Cubs take aim at Class 3A volleyball playoff berth with win over Whitney heading into the District 17-3A home stretch, hosts McGregor Friday
CLIFTON – After surviving a gauntlet of state-ranked teams, the Clifton Lady Cub volleyball squad turns its focus on the home stretch of matches with a berth to the Class 3A postseason in sight.
Hoping to snap a three-match losing streak against 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 Tuesday.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Clifton volleyball head coach Paige Poth said. “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.”
In a battle for the fourth place playoff berth in district, the Lady Cubs (5-5 in district, 18-15 overall) have already beaten the four teams that stand in their way during the first round of district competition. And knocking off Whitney for a second time Tuesday got the Lady Cubs started on the right track heading down the stretch run.
Now, the Lady Cubs return to Clifton for four consecutive home contests to close out the regular season, beginning with McGregor at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
“The opportunity is present,” Poth said. “And 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 will take all of us, but I have no doubt that the girls will get in and get the job done.”
In the tail end of a playing five consecutive matches on the road, the Clifton Lady Cub volleyball team saw its four-match winning streak in District 17-3A competition finally come to an end. But it took 14th-ranked Troy to be enough to bring the road weary Lady Cubs down as the Lady Trojans (8-2, 24-6) marched to a convincing three-set sweep, 25-13, 25-7, 25-19, despite Clifton’s attempt to battle back in the third set.
Senior Ava Anderson led the Lady Cubs with seven kills and 12 digs, followed by junior Carley Caniford with five kills, senior Kamryn Zint with eight digs and sophomore Sydney Fullerton with 15 assists.
After Clifton wrapped up a five-game road trip with a hard-fought straight set loss to previously state-ranked West (8-2, 24-6), 25-19, 25-19, 25-23, to open the second round of district last Tuesday. Then, the Lady Cubs finally returned to the friendly confines of the Clifton High School Gymnasium to host the sixth-ranked and undefeated district leading Lorena Leopards (10-0, 30-4) last Friday, falling in straight sets, 26-24, 25-5, 25-15.
Against West, Anderson smashed a team-high 15 kills and 13 digs, followed by Carley Caniford with eight kills, Fullerton with two service aces and 27 assists, Zint with team-highs 26 digs and 20 service receptions, senior Kasandra Gaona with 12 digs to go with 18 service receptions, and sophomore Laylah Gaona with 14 digs.
“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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