Makayla Howard

Clinton’s Makayla Howard (20) tries to tip a ball over a Bettendorf block from her position as outside hitter during the River Queen’s Mississippi Athletic Conference loss on Tuesday night at home.

CLINTON — Clinton volleyball coach Micah Cewe said the goal after his team’s loss to Bettendorf Tuesday night is simple.

They’ve got to get better.

“Get better everyday in practice,” Cewe said. “We try to have the mentality, ‘Every point, game point’ for every point that we play. We know we’re in a tough league in the (Mississippi Athletic Conference). We’ve seen some middle-of-the-pack teams in North Scott and Bettendorf and we’re not there yet.

“We had a great week of practice after North Scott and up until yesterday overall, but we’ve got to get better.”

No. 13 Bettendorf (4-1) swept Clinton (0-2) 25-22, 25-17, 25-19, Clinton’s first game since being swept by No. 9 North Scott on August 25.

Clinton sophomore Makayla Howard said the team understood Cewe’s message following the loss.

“We talked about really just talking to our setter a little bit more and just being more aggressive on the court,” Howard said. “We have a lot to work on, obviously, and we just want to come out stronger and stronger.”

After a back-and-forth first set, Clinton jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second. However, Bettendorf stormed back to tie it 4-4. That led to a 8-0 Bettendorf run as the Bulldogs took control the rest of the way.

“There were times tonight where we played good, consistent volleyball, and then there were times where we didn’t,” Cewe said. “Those times where we didn’t, you saw Bettendorf go on those long runs. That’s what really hurt us and dropped our mentality, our energy at times and we have to be better than that.

“At times, we’re an inexperienced team on the court and we have to find ways to rise out of those occasions.”

Bettendorf’s Annie Stotlar led the Bulldogs with 11 kills.

“We were able to throw some new players in positions and show the depth of our team to be able to put in some different outsides, some different middles in and were still able to perform at a high caliber,” Bettendorf coach Mike Grannen said. The Bulldogs cracked the top 15 in the Class 5A preseason rankings. “It feels pretty good that the amount of work they’re putting in practice is replicating.”

Howard said the team is only focused on the future.

“We’ve just got to keep our energy up and keep playing hard,” Howard said. “We want to keep working harder in practice and improve upon the things we haven’t been doing very well and come back stronger and harder for our next game — and hopefully come out with a win.”

Clinton (0-2) travel to Cedar Rapids this weekend to participate in Washington’s tournament. They return to MAC play on Tuesday, welcoming local foe Central DeWitt to Yourd Gymnasium.