Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – What a difference a week has made for the Clear Creek Amana volleyball team.
Actually there were only four days between the Clippers’ season-opener WAMAC quadrangular last Thursday and the home quad Clear Creek Amana host on Tuesday.
Regardless of the amount of time it has been a whole different Clear Creek Amana since opening night.
“We’ve been a completely different team since that first night,” Clear Creek Amana junior Bliss Beck said. “Totally different.”
Class 4A seventh-ranked Clear Creek Amana didn’t win a set on opening night.
The Clippers were swept by 3A top-ranked Mount Vernon and Solon in an opening night quadrangular last Thursday in Mount Vernon and didn’t eclipse 20 points in a single set.
“We knew that wasn’t us and we needed to play better,” Clear Creek Amana junior libero Meg Berkland said.
Clear Creek Amana wasted no time putting that sluggish start behind them.
After going 4-1 on its way to the title at the Grinnell Invitational on Saturday the Clippers picked up where they left on Tuesday at its home quadrangular.
Clear Creek Amana swept West Branch 26-24, 25-9 and downed 3A third-ranked West Liberty for the second time in four days 25-18, 22-25, 15-10 to improve to 6-3 on the season.
“We calmed the nerves, we got settled in, we made some changes in the lineup and then we got some confidence in our tournament this weekend at Grinnell and that helped tremendously,” Clear Creek Amana coach Jackie Clubb said. “They got comfortable, they got in the groove and we just keep building.”
The early losses were a bit of a shock to the system for a Clear Creek Amana squad that returned six starters and four players that earned WAMAC all-divisional honors last season.
“It was just a mental change I would say for us,” Beck said. “We came in and we thought we might be good but you have to be able to prove it on the court.”
Since the 0-2 start Clear Creek Amana has certainly proved it can play.
Clear Creek Amana has won six of seven since the slow start and has dropped just four sets during that stretch, all to West Liberty.
“I think after (the two losses last week) we just realized we have to work harder,” Berkland said. “We took practices way more serious after that and it has paid off.”
The Clippers split a pair of matches with West Liberty in Grinnell on Saturday downing the Comets in three sets in the championship match.
In its opening match on Tuesday Clear Creek Amana used a late rally in the first set to sneak past West Branch.
The Clippers then cruised to the set with a 25-9 win in the second set.
“I think everyone got a lot confidence from this weekend,” Berkland said. “That was a big boost for our setters, our hitters, everyone.”
In its third match with West Liberty in four days Clear Creek Amana used a 9-1 run midway through the opening set to take a 16-11 lead it would never give up.
Beck had three of her match-high 12 kills and added an ace block during the 9-1 Clipper run.
“A third of our games so far have been against West Liberty and it’s hard to play a team three times,” Beck said. “It’s about switching up your plan and going to different hitters and different strategies because we all know what we are about. It was about changing things up and I think we did a good job of that.”
West Liberty got as close as 20-18 but the Clippers scored the final five points boosted by a pair of ace serves from freshman Averie Lower.
In the second set Clear Creek Amana roared back from a 9-0 hole to take an 18-16 lead but West Liberty closed the set on a 3-0 run to force a third set.
“I think right now the confidence is really good,” Clubb said. “We were down seven or eight and we got back in it and that is going to build confidence.
The third set was all Clear Creek Amana as the Clippers built an early lead on its way to a 15-10 win.
“I think we did an amazing job digging ourselves out of some holes,” Berkland said. “We worked hard tonight.”
West Liberty defeated Solon 25-19, 18-25, 15-8 in its opening match and finished 1-1 while the Spartans downed West Branch 25-23, 25-15 to also close the night 1-1.
Solon moved to 3-1 on the season while West Branch dropped to 3-5.