Staggered by the first punch and a quick scoring flurry at the start, Clinton never recovered Tuesday, and North Scott delivered the knockout in the form of a three-game volleyball sweep at The Pit.
Remembering how a loss to Clinton last year cost her team a chance at an outright Mississippi Athletic Conference title, North Scott senior Hannah Lindaman enjoyed the early-season win.
“It’s huge to get this,” Lindaman said after the ninth-ranked (Class 4A) Lancers’ 25-12, 25-16, 27-25 win against the seventh-rated (in 5A) River Queens. “Last year, they beat us, and that’s one reason all the ties happened.”
The win left North Scott — which tied Clinton, Pleasant Valley and Davenport Assumption for the MAC title a year ago at 7-2 — with a 5-0 record (2-0 in the MAC).
The Lancers left little doubt they were ready to go.
They scored the first three points as Lindaman assisted on a kill by Emily Hermiston and then delivered a pair of ace serves.
“Momentum is the whole game,” Lindaman said. “Without it it’s hard coming back. When you’re up the whole game, it’s easier to stay positive.”
North Scott’s serving, which included seven aces by Lindaman, was a key reason the Lancers maintained the momentum most of the night.
“Their setter, Lindaman, she played an outstanding volleyball game,” Clinton coach Mark Massey said. “She kind of set the stage with her serve.”
Lindaman found a soft spot in the middle of Clinton’s back row and attacked it.
“That surprised me,” Massey admitted. “We seemed flustered, and that surprised me.”
Lindaman said: “Usually, I serve throughout the back row, but it was working (going to the middle), so I was happy to stick with it. My serve has side spin and is hard to pass.”
Massey said: “I’ve said all along, when you pass, you’re tough to beat. Any volleyball team, when you don’t handle the ball real well will get what we got in the first two games.”
Alyssa Wing ended the early run with a kill off an over pass, the first of her team-high 11 kills. But North Scott got the serve right back on a violation and Emily Hermiston delivered a pair of soft kills to push the lead to 6-1.
Clinton never got closer than four after that, and the Lancers pulled away with two runs — a five-point flurry that included three consecutive kills by Erin Mead and a four-point run capped by a Mead ace.
It appeared the River Queens (4-2, 0-1) might have things straightened out early in the second game. Freshman Elle Tubbs and junior Monique Harris combined for a block that gave the Queens the first point, then Erin Wenzel delivered an ace to make it 2-0.
The teams stayed close for the first portion of the game, and Harris got Clinton within 9-8 with a second-hit kill, then the Lancers scored three in a row, capped by a Lindaman kill, to take control.
The final game was the type of battle one might expect from two ranked teams, although it looked like North Scott might make quick work of it with a 3-0 start that included another Lindaman ace.
This time, though, the Lancers never could pull away.
“I was proud of how the kids battled in the third game and hung in there,” Massey said. “I though Alyssa played liked the all-stater she is in the third game. Mo got Erin the ball, and she had some good swings. And Elle had some good touches.”
North Scott enjoyed an early edge, but Wenzel had a pair of kills around a tip kill by Tubbs in a three-point run that cut the deficit to 11-10. After the teams traded points, Clinton scored three straight — including a block by Marquel Schultheis and Wing, followed by a kill by Wing — to go ahead 14-13.
It was back and forth after that, with Clinton taking leads of 18-17, 19-18 and 20-19 on kills by Wenzel, who finished with nine. North Scott pulled even at 20, but Clinton scored the next three before the Lancers regained the serve. And, once again, Lindaman was there to spoil things for the Queens.
She delivered back-to-back aces to tie the game at 23 and stop Clinton’s surge. The Queens went up 24-23 on the last of four blocks by Wing and again at 25-24 on a tip kill by Wing before North Scott scored three straight to finish off the win.
CHS sophomores, JV lose
North Scott defeated Clinton 25-23, 25-10 on Tuesday in sophomore volleyball and took the junior varsity match 21-17, 21-7.
Rhegan Paulsen led the sophomore River Queens with three kills and one ace, and Raven Jones had six assists.
In the JV match, Shannon Shovlain led Clinton with three kills, Jordan Nelson had six assists and Gabby Haan had nine digs. Shovlain and Nelson added seven digs each.
NORTH SCOTT 25-25-27, CLINTON 12-16-25
Clinton statistical leaders
Kills — Alyssa Wing 11, Erin Wenzel 9. Assists — Monique Harris 24. Digs — Wing 9, Gabby Haan 8. Blocks — Wing 4, Wenzel 2. Ace serves — Harris 2.