SOARING HIGH, SPIKING HARD

in Volleyball

Getting off to a strong start with a new head coach, Clifton Lady Cub volleyball puts experienced squad on the court chasing playoff berth

CLIFTON – As much as it might seem like things are changing for the Clifton Lady Cub volleyball program, it’s really staying the same as they bump it up into the 2022 Texas high school season. After all, two seniors and six juniors return to the court to be led by former assistant Whitney Holdbrook as the new Lady Cub head coach.

After opening the season with three straight victories, the Lady Cubs bounced back from their first loss to knock off the Maypearl Lady Panthers, 25-18, 25-27, 25-19 in dramatic fashion and claim third place in the annual Clifton Volleyball Tournament held last Thursday-Saturday in the Clifton High and Middle School gyms.

Clifton (4-1) will host the Rio Vista Lady Eagles at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday before hitting the road for the first time this season to play in the Glen Rose Tournament Aug. 18-20.

Following back-to-back two-set sweep wins over the Dublin Lady Lions, 25-10, 25-14, and the Abbott Panthers, 25-15, 25-15, in tournament pool play on Thursday, the Lady Cubs stumbled against the undefeated Valley Mills Lady Eagles (7-0) to lose in two straight sets.

“The girls lost a tough game to Valley Mills Saturday morning,” Holdbrook said. “But they bounced back and gave an all-out effort to defeat Maypearl. This tournament really showed how every girl on this team has the capability of being a big play maker.”

In the third place game against Maypearl, senior Carly Caniford led the Lady Cubs with 10 kills, followed by junior Sydney Fullerton with seven kills and five service aces, while senior Camryn Caniford nailed six kills and three aces. Fullerton led Clifton with 13 assists while coming up with eight digs, junior Alyssa Santillan provided a team-high 23 digs and 23 service receptions, and sophomore Cameron Ritz dished out nine assists.

In the dominating pool play win over Dublin last Thursday, Fullerton led Clifton with six kills, followed by Carly Caniford and junior Carly Howard with five each, while Ritz handled out a team-high 11 assists.

“The girls have made it a priority to get better every day, in practice and games,” Holdbrook said. “They are giving all-out effort in the games and are showing their drive to win. Every team member is contributing to the success of the team.”

Set to enter her fifth season as the Lady Cub basketball head coach, Holdbrook takes over the volleyball program this season after serving as the varsity assistant for the last three years. After graduating from Lorena High School, Holdbrook played college basketball and has seven years of experience coaching volleyball.

“I love coaching in Clifton because we have great kids and a supportive community,” Holdbrook said. “We have a strong team returning nine varsity players from last season. Team expectations are the same as they have been, come out every day ready to compete and improve. This season, we are looking for everyone on the team to contribute.

Opening the 2022 season by hosting the Teague Lady Lions last Tuesday, Clifton brushed off a disappointing, hard-fought 27-25 loss in the first game to rally for three straight wins, 25-16, 25-18, 25-18, to seize the victory. Fullerton led the Lady Cubs with 17 kills, followed by Carly Caniford with 12, Santillan smashed five service aces, received 27 serves and came up with 17 digs, while Ritz dished out 22 assists.

“The girls had a great game last night,” Holdbrook said after the opener. “I was really proud of the way they fought back.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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