By Brenden West Assistant Sports Editor
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — On Saturday, Clinton rolled through pool play during its home volleyball tournament. But in the semifinals against Muscatine — who Clinton lost to in five sets on Tuesday — the River Queens once again fell short.
Clinton took down Dubuque Senior, United Township (Ill.) and Davenport North with relative ease, sweeping all three of the pool play matches and winning each set by seven or more points in games to 21. The 3-0 start gave the River Queens the top seed entering bracket play of the tournament, where they headed up the Muskies in the first round.
It turned into an all-Mississippi Athletic Conference bracket, with North securing the second seed in Clinton’s pool and Davenport Assumption winning the pool featuring Muscatine.
“It was a good 3-0,” Clinton co-coach Mark Massey said of pool play. “The fact that it was all MAC at the end goes to show you the type of competition we’re against this year.”
Also in the mix was Central DeWitt, who, despite going 0-3 in pool play, hung with primarily larger schools and took both Central and Muscatine to three sets before bowing out.
“We talked a lot about the growth we’ve made since our first tournament,” DeWitt coach Peggy Kuehn said. “I saw tremendous improvement today. Doing the little things right. And I saw a lot of great touches.”
Katie Irwin led the Sabers with 20 kills while Mackenzie Kuehn led with 55 assists. Kuehn said she was satisfied, overall, with her team’s performance.
During the semifinals, Clinton and Muscatine had a back-and-forth Set 1 with neither team able to separate until the final 10 points. River Queens outside Erin Wenzel keyed several big points with a kill, a block and another kill to give Clinton its 17th, 18th and 19th points of the game.
The Muskies continued to pull away, though, with strong defense by libero Emily Clemens and powerful net play by outside Shalyn Greenhaw. Muscatine escaped with a 25-20 first set win.
Thanks to Greenhaw, the Muskies built a sizable lead early in Set 2.
“We talked a lot about that rotation with Greenhaw,” Massey said. “She didn’t get any flat aces. We hung in there, but we’ve talked a lot about moving on to the next point, next point.”
Taking the service line at 6-5 Muscatine, Greenhaw’s ripped eight consecutive jump serves that either aced Clinton or put the team out of rhythm with off tempo passes. The Muskies’ defense continued to hold, and the River Queens struggled to put a ball down until Hannah Dehner’s kill out of the middle ended Muscatine’s run. By then, the score was 15-6 in favor of the Muskies.
“We don’t really see much top spin,” Clinton setter Monique Harris said of Greenhaw’s serve. She finished the tournament leading the team with 13 aces and 59 assists. “It’s hard, you know, when you to come back when you’re down.”
Wenzel said: “It gets frustrating at times when it seems like they’re getting a lot of touches. It can get into players’ heads.”
Muscatine eventually pushed its lead to 22-11. Then, the River Queens powered an admirable comeback.
“I knew we needed to get something going,” Wenzel said.
“Erin did what a senior hitter on varsity should do, and that’s pick us up,” Massey said.
With the game on the line, the Wenzel powered several intimidating blows through the Muskies front, including a harsh rip into the middle of the court cutting Clinton’s deficit to 23-19.
The hole proved too large, though, for the River Queens to climb out of. Muscatine sided out to make it 24-20. Two plays later, Greenhaw ended it on a quick set in the middle for the match-point kill, ending the contest at 25-21.
The Muskies lost in the championship to Assumption.
Harris said the team entered the tournament with high expectations, but added she was not discouraged with the result.
“When we were coming back, we were just playing our game,” she said. “I wanted to get (Erin) the ball. ... Of course your disappointed when you’re goal is to make it to the championship. But we’ll be all right.”
The River Queens will still get their chance to take down Assumption when they travel to Davenport on Tuesday for a MAC conference match. Game time is approximately 7 p.m. at Assumption.
DAVENPORT ASSUMPTION def. DAVENPORT CENTRAL
ASSUMPTION def. MUSCATINE
ASSUMPTION 21-21, CENTRAL DEWITT 19-18
MUSCATINE def. DAVENPORT CENTRAL (3)
MUSCATINE 13-21-15, DEWITT 21-11-11
DAVENPORT CENTRAL 21-18-15, DEWITT 13-21-9
CLINTON 21-21, UNITED TOWNSHIP (Ill.) 9-3
CLINTON 21-21, DAVENPORT NORTH 14-11
CLINTON 21-21, DUBUQUE SENIOR 7-8
NORTH 21-21, SENIOR 13-15
NORTH 21-22-15, UNITED TOWNSHIP 19-24-13
MUSCATINE 25-25, CLINTON 20-21
ASSUMPTION 25-25, NORTH 16-14
ASSUMPTION def. MUSCATINE
Kills — Hannah Dehner 9, Monique Harris 10, Raven Jones 1, McKenzie Peterson 9, Elle Tubbs 11, Erin Wenzel 46
Assists — Harris 59, Jones 11, Wenzel 1, Dehner 1
Digs — Harris 15, Jones 8, Dehner 10, Jordan Nelson 11, Peterson 2, Shannon Shovlain 8, Tubbs 6, Wenzel 10
Blocks — Dehner 5, Harris 5, Jones 2, Peterson 5, Tubbs 2, Wenzel 2
Aces — Harris 13, Jones 2, Nelson 4, Tubbs 4, Wenzel 3
Kills — Amanda Brainerd 13, Abby Grau 11, Olivia Haack 11, Katie Irwin 20, MacKenzie Kuehn 1, Elle Ladehoff 10
Assists — Kuehn 55, Becca Grell 1, Olivia Haack 2
Digs — Grau 5, Grell 7, Haack 4, Irwin 6, Rachel Koph 1, Kuehn 9, Ladehoff 3, Steph Schrader 13
Blocks — Brainerd 4, Grau 2, Kuehn 2, Haack 1, Irwin 3, Ladehoff 2
Aces — Grau 6, Haack 1, Irwin 2, Koph 2, Schrader 2, Ladehoff 1