BY CLAY CUNNINGHAM
Times Staff Reporter
An already solid Northview volleyball program looks to have an even brighter future, as all three North Clay Junior High teams continued seasons of dominance with wins over Cloverdale Tuesday night.
The undefeated seventh-grade squad took the floor first, and quickly earned their 20th victory of the season. The Clovers kept things close early in game one, getting as close as 9-8. Abbey Timberman quickly turned the momentum squarely in the Knights favor with two aces, which sparked an impressive rally. Lainey Latham then closed matters with three consecutive aces, and the Knights took game one 25-14.
Game two was never close.
Whitney Halfhill got things started, serving the Knights to a 7-0 lead. Halfhill also made an impressive, lunging one-armed bump to secure North Clay's 16th point. This, aided by four, McKenzi Kumpf kills, helped the Knights coast to a 25-9 win. Coach Connie Young was very praiseful of what she called "a very coachable team" as they played their final home game of an unbeaten season.
"I've been very impressed with the work ethic of this team," Young said of her group, who lost a mere four games all season. "Anything that's presented a challenged, they've loved to take it on. They've always been eager to try anything that will make them better."
The eighth-grade had no trouble bumping their record to 18-2.
Leading 3-2 early, the Knights blew the game wide open with a 9-0 run, led by four, Lorrie LaTourette aces and two Shelbi Morris kills. Cloverdale attempted to rally, but never sniffed the lead again, before a Lindsey Potter kill brought game one to an end, with North Clay on top 25-9.
Cloverdale tied game two at one, before completely self-destructing. The Knights went on a 7-0 run behind Kayla Watson. After a second Cloverdale point, North Clay went on an even more impressive 16-0 run behind the service of Libby Deckard. The Knights offered very little flash, but seemed considerably more solid fundamentally in their 25-3 pounding of the Clovers. Coach Kevin Kumpf said he anticipated a lopsided win and was happy his players were able to bring their best game forward without getting lackadaisical.
"It can sometimes be harder to get (players) to play hard against teams they know they should beat," Kumpf said. "This is a good group of girls, and they play well in all situations."
Game one ended with North Clay atop 25-5.
Game two was a considerably different story. Cloverdale equaled their scoring out put from game one before the Knights even cracked the scoreboard, and eventually took an 11-4 lead over a seemingly shell-shocked Knights squad.
The Knights attempted to chip away at the Clovers lead, but never got closer than two, before eventually dropping a surprising 25-20 decision.
Luckily for the Knights, they quickly returned to form in game three.
Cloverdale got on the board first, before North Clay took control once again. The Knights scored the next 11 points behind crack serving from Morgan Stearley, who landed an astonishing seven aces during her service. Stearley also sent the Clovers packing with an emphatic ace, and North Clay won the deciding third game by the score of 15-3.
The sixth-grade season officially came to an end with this contest, with this Knights squad continuing the impressive streak of all the middle school combatants, accumulating a 14-1 record. Linda Payton, the Knights' very energetic coach, praised the parents of her players for their dedication in supporting their kids, and expressed her belief the group she finished coaching would see great future success.
"These kids have improved every day," Payton said. "It's been awesome to see kids of this age have so much love and desire for the game. I can't wait to see what they do in the future."
Next match: The seventh-and eighth-grade Knights visit St. Pats on Thursday to finish the season.