By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor
Early on, fans in the Clinton High student section chanted “Too easy” after several points.
While one could question the sportsmanship — Clinton coach Mark Massey did between games and asked them to stop, which they did — their assessment seemed spot on Tuesday night.
Little went wrong for the River Queens as they swept Davenport West 25-7, 25-14, 25-12 in a Mississippi Athletic Conference volleyball match at Yourd Gymnasium. The River Queens, No. 7 in the Class 5A state rankings, won their ninth match in a row to improve to 17-6, 5-1 in the MAC. All but two of the 17 wins have been shutouts.
“We didn’t give up points on too many rotations,” Massey said. ”The thing I like is an analogy of basketball — there were not a lot of turnovers or a foul fest. It was us smoking the ball.”
Clinton’s dominating performance featured a .667 attack percentage for the Queens (45 kills and just five errors in 60 attempts). West, meanwhile, scored consecutive points only twice in each game, and only once did it string more than two points together.
“No disrespect to them, but when our kids are passing the ball like this, we are going to get quality swings,” Massey said.
The Queens certainly came out swinging, and the fans liked what they saw.
Clinton scored nine of the first 11 points in Game 1, as junior Monique Harris set up senior Alyssa Wing for three kills, junior Erin Wenzel for two and senior Marquel Schultheis for one. Harris also delivered one of her match-high six aces during the fast start.
“We just made sure we were ready to go,” said Schultheis, whose ace finished off a four-point run that made it 13-4.
Another run, capped by a Griffin Rasche ace, made it 18-5, then Clinton closed the set with Wenzel serving a seven-point run that included double blocks by Harris and freshman Elle Tubbs for two of the final three points.
Harris and Tubbs opened the second game with another block, and Harris assisted on a Tubbs kill that made it 2-1.
West scored the next point, but Clinton went ahead to stay on a left-side kill by Wing. Harris’s serving came into play on the next three points. Wing hammered a kill on an overpass of serve-receive to make it 4-2, then Harris followed with an ace. Her next serve sent the Falcons scrambling, and they were unable to return the ball on three hits.
The Falcons stayed relatively close for a time, trailing just 10-6, but Wing had four kills during a stretch in which Clinton outscored West 6-2.
The Queens finished strong again, scoring seven of the final eight points.
Game 3 was more of the same early.
“You hope you’re still focused on the little things, and I think we were,” Massey said.
Clinton scored the first five points and built an 8-1 lead. West responded with its best sequence of the night, scoring five points in a row. Jasymn Dennis had three aces during the stretch, and Alisa Behrens and Jessie Wehrle added kills.
But Clinton regrouped, responding with three straight points for an 11-6 lead. The Falcons got within 14-10 later before the Queens scored 11 of the game’s final 13 points. Wing delivered six kills in that span, including one to end the victory.
Both Schultheis and Massey said the decisive play gave the Queens opportunities to experiment.
“We tried to run some different plays and get some things worked out,” Schultheis said.
“It gives Monique a chance to try some different things as a setter,” Massey said. In addition to her team high for aces, Harris finished with 37 assists, four blocks and 10 digs. “Monique obviously is pretty valuable to us. Alyssa and Erin don’t need much room to get good swings, and she does that, and I’m not sure any setter plays any better back-row defense.”
After playing three straight weeks of Tuesday-only matches, the River Queens return to action Saturday at the Bettendorf tournament. Schultheis said the team had developed a pretty good rhythm.
“It’s definitely a good rhythm,” she said. “The feeling on Tuesday is it’s game day, and we’ve had a day to recoup from the weekend. It gives plenty of time to recoup and get ready for the next Tuesday.”
CLINTON 25-25-25, DAVENPORT WEST 7-14-12
Clinton statistical leaders
Kills — Alyssa Wing 23, Erin Wenzel 13, Elle Tubbs 4, Monique Harris 3. Assists — Harris 37, Tubbs 2. Ace serves — Harris 6, Griffin Rasche 3. Blocks — Tubbs 4, Harris 4 (1 solo). Digs — Wing 12, Harris 10, Hannah Dehner 7, Gabby Haan 7.