CLINTON — Central DeWitt volleyball coach Lee Swanson said Clinton sophomore Makayla Howard is a, “beast.”
That’s an apt description.
“Howard is a beast and she played really well,” Swanson said. “They beat us a lot with energy and effort, and I just told my kids that. Finally in the third game after I challenged them, they played hard. That was the first time that I saw that and I told them, ‘If you’re going to play like that, you’re going to be okay.’
“On the road, you’ve got to match energy, you’ve got to match effort and we didn’t do that tonight. Clinton made some plays and just kept building on it.”
Howard led all players with 16 kills and Clinton got a sweep over Central DeWitt 25-20, 25-17, 25-21 on Tuesday in a Mississippi Athletic Conference game at Yourd Gymnasium.
“It feels really good and we’re just happy that we came out with this win that we’ve been practicing really hard for,” Howard said. “Now that we have this confidence and we know our potential, we can keep building off of that. Hopefully when we see better teams, we stay confident and play well against them.”
After the River Queens took set one, the Sabers called timeout as Clinton amassed a 15-11 lead in the second set. Following the break, Clinton extended its lead to 20-13, forcing another Saber timeout.
But that was no help, as Howard slammed a kill after the timeout and then another to win the set.
The River Queens jumped out to a 13-5 third-set lead, but the Sabers were able to cut the lead back down to 18-14.
A few plays later, a Saber block made it 22-19, but Clinton’s Jamie Greenwalt responded with a kill. The Sabers came back with a point but served the ball into their own net right after.
Howard finally put the game away after a volley with another big kill.
“We were in that long run and we wanted to get out of it so we could just sweep them in three,” Howard said.
Clinton coach Micah Cewe said it felt good to be home.
“It’s nice to be back on our home floor again,” Cewe said. “Obviously things didn’t go very well for us last Tuesday, but we’ve had a good week of practice and we thought we played well on Saturday against the No. 1 and No. 4 teams in the state for our class, so it’s just putting the pieces together and I thought we really meshed really well.
“I thought our serve-receive was much better than it has been in the past. When you’re passing well, you can swing. Makayla did that tonight for us, (Makenzie) Cooley did that tonight for us and Payton (Luett) did that in the last two sets.”
For Clinton, Greenwalt finished with 29 assists, 13 digs and an ace. Howard had two blocks and an ace.
For Central DeWitt, Taylor Veach had 15 digs, Grace Pierce had 14, Talbot Kinney had 11 and Hannah Palzkill and Morgan Machovec both had 10. Machovec had 18 assists. Ava Morris had seven kills and a block.
Machovec said the Sabers needed more energy.
“We knew that they were 0-4, we knew they were going to come out hard and ready to play especially since it’s their home tournament,” she said. “We tried to have lots of energy and I think it was just hard to get that because of their crowd compared to our crowd, and our bench compared to their bench, and our team versus their team.
“So we knew we were going to need energy and I don’t think we really brought it tonight.”