By Brad Seward
For the Herald
CLINTON — Coming back can take a lot out of a team. The Clinton River Queens found that to be true against Bettendorf. The Bulldogs swept Clinton 25-16, 25-23, 25-17 in Mississippi Athletic Conference volleyball Thursday night at Yourd Gym.
“I think there is a little bit of a psych factor with Bettendorf,” Clinton coach Mark Massey said. “I’m proud of our effort, and that is a good Bettendorf team.”
Both teams battled back and forth early in Game 1, but the River Queens could never get the lead. Bettendorf seized the opening-game momentum through the serving of senior libero Katherine Menard. Serving with an 8-7 lead, Menard continued the Bulldogs’ momentum by helping Bettendorf to a 10-7 cushion.
Bettendorf eventually built the lead to three when the Queens came calling with their best run in the game. Shortly after an ace serve by senior Mallory Voss cut the Bettendorf lead to 12-10, Bulldogs senior Melissa Dunlavy slammed the door shut by rattling off five straight service points.
Game 2 proved to be Clinton’s best shot at getting back into the match. After Bettendorf took a quick 7-3 lead, junior Courtney Camp helped serve the River Queens back into the game and knotted the score at 7. However, the Bulldogs responded with their own rally and garnered a lead as big as four.
Clinton gained steam after Camp came through once again. Her back-to-back service points helped tie the game at 18. The River Queens eventually took the lead behind the serving of junior Devynn Paulsen. However, the 20-18 Clinton lead went by the wayside as Bettendorf went on a 7-3 run to end it.
“We have been working on our right-side defense, and I think we got the best defensive game from Courtney (Camp) and Ashley (Haugen) that we’ve had and Sarah (Massey) and Devynn (Paulsen) on the left side,” Mark Massey said. “We got some touches on some blocks, and when you do that their hitters start thinking about it a little bit.”
The momentum from the Game-2 win showed early in Game 3 as the Bulldogs rolled to a 7-3 lead before a River Queens timeout. Clinton narrowed the margin, but that’s as close at the Queens would get in the final game, as Bettendorf went on to finish off the three-game sweep.
“Win or lose, you never get to pick the scores of any game in hindsight. I would have liked to have had Game 2, the first game or even Game 3 the first game.” Massey said. “I thought we struggled in spots with serve receive, really just a couple of times in that first game, but that allowed them to gap it in that game.”
The River Queens will have to recover from the loss quickly as Clinton will host its own tournament starting at 9 a.m. Saturday at Yourd Gym. In that tournament, the Queens will host perennial power Moline, United Township, West Carroll, Davenport Assumption, Davenport Central, Davenport North, Central DeWitt.
BETTENDORF 25-25-25, CLINTON 15-23-17
Kills — Bettendorf (Ann Miller 17, Megan Hayes 8, Halli Meyer 7); Clinton (Mallory Voss 8, Sarah Massey 6). Blocks — Bettendorf (Hayes 3, Melissa Dunlavy 1, Meyer 1); Clinton (Leisha Harris 3). Assists — Bettendorf (Jenna Fussell 23, Meyer 19); Clinton (Ashley Haugen 9). Ace serves — Bettendorf (Dunlavy 2, Miller 1, Katherine Menard 1); Clinton (Voss 3). Digs — Bettendorf (Miller 27, Menard 22, Dunlavy 15); Clinton (Devynn Paulsen 18, Massey 18).
By Brad Seward