DEWITT – With a loud bench and an excited team, the Easton Valley River Hawks watched the volleyball drop in the middle of the Central DeWitt side, giving them the 27-25 edge in Set 4 and solidifying their 3-1 win over the Sabers on Monday night.

The teams were neck and neck the entire way, with the River Hawks coming on top 27-25, 16-25, 25-15, 27-25.

“They told me it was fun,” Easton Valley head coach Denise Larson said. “It’s not fun from the bench, it’s nerve wracking.”

After taking a large lead in the first set, the Sabers dug their way back. Their right side had some huge kills, including swings from Lauren Cooper and Ava Morris.

The River Hawks managed to stay just ahead until the end. DeWitt started sending tips and free balls over the net and Easton Valley managed to put a pair away for the kills, including Kierra Messerich finishing things off for the River Hawks after a long volley.

The second set saw the Sabers come out hot. They started swinging at the ball and found one of the River Hawks’ weak spots in serve receive.

At one point, the Sabers put two consecutive serves right on the line for two aces, extending their lead to 11-4.

“We practice it all the time,” Larson said. “Honestly, we’re kind of a team that needs things to happen. That’s a lot of wait time and then they think too much.”

Although it evened the match at 1-1, the River Hawks took the next two.

They took a big lead in Set 3, really using their front row to their advantage. Big swings from Macy Wilhelm and RaeAnn Carlson got past the Sabers, and DeWitt couldn’t find their way around the lengthy Easton Valley block.

“Our block is huge,” Larson said. “We’ve been reliant on that for the last several years and we’re used to having a block.”

The fourth set proved the most exciting. Both teams had big kills and surprise tips, plus the defensive specialists in the back kept finding the digs. Points fell after long volleys, adding to the excitement.

“We did see a lot better defense tonight,” Larson said. “I saw a lot better movement in the back row when we did need to dig, which is nice.”

Eventually, the River Hawks closed it out.

“I think they really focused on staying in the game every single second, no breaks,” Larson said. “Sometimes we do a job and then take a little break. I think they were thinking stay focused and watch the ball.”

The River Hawks improve to 3-4 and take on Maquoketa Valley in Preston on Thursday.

The Sabers fall to 2-6 and welcome Maquoketa to their home court in a week.

Knights play to 3rd place finish

FULTON – Some scrappy play led the Unity Christian volleyball team to a first place finish in their pool on Saturday and an eventual third place finish overall during their home volleyball tournament.

The day hosted several Northern Illinois Christian Conference schools including Galesburg Christian, Morningstar Academy and Tri-State Christian.

“The girls played well,” head coach Jana Behr. “They played pretty consistently and with energy. They battled hard with Tristate! We had some really exciting matches Saturday.”

Allison Tegeler led the day with 11 kills, while also finishing with seven aces. Kyra and Maizie Wicklund combined for 57 digs.

Unity continued their season on Monday night with a road trip to Galesburg Christian.

Irish struggle at home

CLINTON – What started as an off day for the Prince of Peace volleyball team on their home court ended on a high note with a win over Cedar Valley Christian to top off the tournament.

The Irish struggled with the beginning of the day in a round-robin tournament at the Joe O’Donnell Athletic Center.

The Irish managed two wins over conference foe Cedar Valley Christian but saw two of their worst losses of the season. They fell to Tri-Rivers opponent Lisbon 21-15, 21-9 and also fell to Dubuque Hempstead 21-9, 21-8.

Prince of Peace (6-6) heads to Central City on Thursday night.

Clinton sophs win at home

CLINTON – The Clinton High School sophomore volleyball team won their home tournament over the weekend, taking down other Mississippi Athletic Conference teams in the process.

The Queens took down North Scott and Davenport Assumption in their pool before they fell to Dubuque Wahlert in three sets.

In afternoon play, Clinton played two hard-fought matches that both went to extra sets. They first beat Mt. Vernon and then went on to beat Bettendorf in the first place match.