TIFFIN – No road games in the postseason hasn’t been a concern for the Clinton River Queens.
In fact, neither has their record. The River Queens came into the postseason with just 11 wins, and now they’re headed on to the regional final for the second consecutive year to play for a chance at state.
That comes after a 3-1 upset win (25-16, 21-25, 25-22, 25-16) over Clear Creek-Amana on Tuesday night on the road.
“When you go 11-22 ... I don’t want to say we’re the best 11-22 team but we’ve had a lot of tough games, we played a tough schedule and I think it’s prepared us,” head coach Micah Cewe said about the 2019 postseason run.
To the thrill of the healthy Clinton crown in Tiffin on Tuesday night, the River Queens started off a fourth set with a 10-3 lead. In the first 12 points, they had four huge blocks against the Clippers, sending booms through the gymnasium and River Queens hands into the air.
It was Kaylee Camp and Kelly Clark with the big hands. They each ended with three blocks a piece when all was said and done.
“I thought this was too good to be true,” Cewe said. “We’re not normally a big blocking team. That seniors stepping up, too with Kaylee and Kelly stepping up like that. It was great senior leadership from them.”
The Queens went on to dominate the Clippers in the fourth set to cap off.
“The one thing we’ve been saying is earning it,” Cewe said. “Earn, earn, earn. We told the girls in the timeout that we wanted to earn the last five points. When they earn points, good things happen.”
But it wasn’t always that easy.
In fact, they fell in the second set with some shaky play. That included a string of errors at the serving line that handed the Clippers free points. Clinton ended with an uncharacteristic nine serving errors through the match.
“We serve, for the most part, pretty consistent,” Cewe said. “To have a string like that, it gets a little contagious. If we can’t serve the ball in play we lose a little confidence as a team.”
The River Queens came out without looking shaken, however. They jumped in front of the Clippers once again to begin Set 3, this time with kills from seniors Kelly Clark, Kaylee Camp and Bailey Wing littering their first point run.
“It’s do or die for our seniors,” Cewe said. “For them to step up like that is huge.”
After as much as a nine point lead over the Clippers, the Queens watch a little inconsistency start to come into play. The Clipper block starting being a nuisance against the Queens’ attacks and CCA had kills falling in the corners. They watched the lead crumble to just two.
Then another senior stepped up, with Kelly Clark reaching for one of her nine kills.
“Kelly is very deceiving,” Cewe said. “It’s where she places it. It’s an off-speed swing, and when she swings it’s hitting locations and in the seams.”
Then to cap it off, Makenzie Cooley came around behind Brooke Mulholland for a slide, which landed just between the back row’s feet. It was a look that had been blocked most of the night.
“The nice thing was that the seam was open,” Cewe said. “They had been blocking that very well and fortunately it was open and she hit the perfect spot.”
The River Queens (13-22) will face Western Dubuque in the regional final for a chance at the state tournament. The Bobcats will be the third team with over 20 wins that the Queens have faced in the postseason, their most recent being an upset of the Wahlert Catholic Golden Eagles.
The idea of playing in Epworth doesn’t scare the River Queens. They knew they would be coming in with one of the worse records on paper.
“Records get erased and we’re all 0-0,” Cewe said. “I think we play better on the road. We travel a lot for tournaments and there’s something about being on the road.”