in Volleyball

Riding a nine-match winning streak, the Class 3A Clifton Lady Cub volleyball team celebrates its tournament championship at Moody with win over Valley Mills in first home appearance

Coming off back-to-back, jam-packed weeks of action where they met the challenges and took their lumps, the Clifton Lady Cubs finally saw all of their hard work pay off with a slew of victories.

In the process of building a nine-match winning streak, the Lady Cubs opened last week with an impressive win in Hico before sweeping to a dominating championship trophy at the Moody Tournament last Thursday-Saturday.

“As I said earlier in the season, we keep getting better every match,” Clifton volleyball head coach Joy Holzmann said. “And I am looking forward to see what each match brings.”

After playing 13 straight matches on the road to open the 2023 Texas high school volleyball season, the Lady Cubs (15-9) finally stay home to host Bosque County rival Valley Mills this Tuesday, sweeping past the always-tough Lady Eagles in straight sets.

“Tuesday’s match was our first home game of the year, and we had a great turnout,”Holzmann said. “It is so nice to see a packed gym with supportive fans. We played great with tons of energy on and off the court, and the fans in the stands were also a big help with that.”

Against Valley Mills, freshman Brystel Wise led Clifton with 10 and only three hitting errors with a hitting average of .412, followed by senior Kate Humphreys with nine kills and only four hitting errors with a hitting average of .313.  Junior Brylee Heim contributed four kills, followed by junior Camy Barsh with three, while Brystel led the Lady Cubs with a 1.89 serve receive average followed by senior Laylah Gaona with a 1.67 serve receive average. 

“I was very pleased with everyone’s performance on Tuesday,” Holzmann said. “What a great first home match. I’m looking forward to another packed gym for our match against Hamilton on Friday.”

Once again traveling for back-to-back road trips, the Lady Cubs will face Class 2A’s 12th-ranked Hamilton (12-4) at 4:30 p.m. Friday, then travel to Cameron for their final non-district match at 6 p.m. Sept. 5 before opening District 17-3A competition at home against 17th-ranked Keene (13-4) at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 8.

Leaving no doubt in the championship game of the Moody Tournament last Saturday, the Lady Cubs swept past the McGregor Lady Bulldogs in straight sets, 25-19, 25-17, to bring home the tourney hardware.

Humphreys led Clifton with eight kills, followed by senior Brianna Gonzalez with seven and Heim with five, while Wise led the Lady Cubs with a 2.3 serve receive average and 10 digs.

“We had a great match against McGregor in the final match for the championship,” Holzmann said. “After sitting for several hours, the girls jumped on the court ready to play with a lot of energy. I was very pleased with their performance.”

Opening the Moody Tournament last Thursday, Clifton knocked off the host McGregor in a hard-fought, three-set match, before sweeping past Waco Reicher Catholic and Axtell in straight sets to win pool play. Playing in the championship bracket Saturday, the Lady Cubs dominated Oglesby in a two-set sweep before battling to a three-set victory over Holland to earn a place in the title game.

“After going undefeated in three matches Thursday to win our pool, we came back on Saturday and had a long day,” Holzmann said. “But the girls came ready to play, and we won three matches to win the championship. I’m very proud of the way they played.”

Coming into last week having lost six of their last eight matches playing a gauntlet of strong non-district and tournament opponents, the Lady Cubs traveled to Hico Tuesday and dominated the Lady Tigers in a four-set victory. Wise led Clifton with nine kills, 12 digs and passed for a 2.15 average, while Gonzalez contributed seven kills, seven digs and passed for 2.15.

“We had another great match against Hico,” Holzmann said. “This was another great match with everyone involved. We lost focus in set three, but regrouped in set four and dominated the match. The girls continue to get better each game.”

Playing three straight weeks on the road with a schedule packed full of matches, the Lady Cubs took on some tough opponents and played some exciting Texas high school volleyball as they prepared for District 17-3A competition.

In a hard-fought battle before a lively crowd with both teams well-represented, the Lady Cubs faced Rio Vista on the road Aug. 14 and won the first two sets, 25-23 and 25-17. Rio Vista responded in the third set by winning 25-23, but Clifton bounced right back to dominate the Lady Eagles, 25-8, for the victory.

“The game against Rio Vista was great,” Holzmann said. “The atmosphere at the game was like a playoff game. The crowd from Rio Vista was very loud, and the Clifton crowd was just as loud. I feel like this is the first game of the year that we stepped on the court in set one ready to play.”

Junior Addison Martin led the Lady Cubs in kills with 10, followed by Barsh and Wise with eight apiece. Humphreys led the team in serve receive by passing a 1.83 followed by Gaona with a 1.75.  Humphreys also led the team in digs with 14, followed by Wise with 13, while freshman Madison Otter led in assists with 28.

“We fell a little short in game three because our serve receive broke down,” Holzmann said. “But we bounced back in set four and dominated in that match. I was very proud of all three teams for taking care of business against Rio Vista and having great chemistry as a program.”

Playing in the highly-competitive Glen Rose Tournament Aug. 18-19 with four matches each day, the Lady Cubs completed a hard-fought two-set swept of Class 4A Alvarado, 25-22, 25-16, but fell in straight sets to TAPPS 5A Midland Christian and Class 5A Melissa on Friday.

“The Glen Rose tournament was a very strong tournament with a lot of games on Friday followed by a lot of games on Saturday,” Holzmann said. “We were missing Kate Humphreys because she was at home running fever. So, we had some new rotations that we had to work through with different personnel. Brylee Heim and Addison Martin stepped into her role and did a great job.”

Playing four more matches on Saturday, the Lady Cubs wrapped up the tournament by winning a three-set battle with the Class 6A Crowley Lady Eagles, but Clifton lost a tough three-set battle with Milsap, 25-21, 23-25, 25-23, fought to a three-set loss to Class 4A Robinson, and lost against Class 4A Monahans.

“It made for a very long day, but we got to play a lot of volleyball,” Holzmann said. “We did defeat 6A Crowley in three sets which was big for us. We ended the day one of four matches, but was able to work through new rotations and chemistry throughout the day. We went three with every team, but just couldn’t finish the third set.”


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