Clarke volleyball fell to Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont in three sets (3-0) Tuesday, Sept. 1.
The Lady Indians competed closely in the first set, falling 25-20 before the Rockets put the pieces together, going on major runs in the final two sets. E-B-F won set two 25-6 and set three 25-17.
Clarke showed resiliency at the start of the match. E-B-F took an 8-0 lead, capped by a block off an attack attempt before a serve attempt into the net gave the Lady Indians their first point. The Rockets continued to extend the lead, taking a 13-4 advantage before Clarke clawed its way back into the match.
“I think we have really improved as a team,” Clarke head coach Shawn Pavlick said. “We got down kind of early. I think it was the early-season jitters kind of thing. I was looking at scores on quikstats and we had played one match and Eddyville had already played eight. So, they’re well on their way into the season and we’re just starting. I think that had a little bit to do with it, they’ve had more game time than we have so far.”
On Tory Henry’s serve, Clarke went on a 5-0 run, highlighted by a strong kill from Kiaya Dunbar to cut the deficit to 13-9.
Things went back-and-forth as E-B-F extended the lead to 19-12 before Ali Henry recorded a kill to spark a 4-0 run. Clarke couldn’t capitalize as E-B-F took advantage of Clarke’s mistakes, ending the match with a kill between two diving Lady Indians.
Pavlick said when the team started to go on a run, the Lady Indians stopped being timid at the net and set the ball to Josie Dunbar, who playing well in her second varsity match.
“Our sophomore middle hitter (Josie Dunbar) was just on fire tonight,” Pavlick said. “If she can get on a roll like that, I think she’s going to be a very dangerous player. I was telling our setters, feed her until the other team figures it out.”
The second and third set was all E-B-F as the Rockets found their groove, going on long runs and capitalizing on Clarke’s inexperienced rotations.
“It’s that mix between wanting to get girls playing time and trying to put the best girls out there,” Pavlick said. “The nice thing is I do have a pretty deep bench. There are a lot of players I trust that I can put out there any time and play well. Last year, we had one returning varsity starter and two seniors. This year, we have seven seniors and really about eight returning starters that got significant time last year. That experience is going to really pay off for us.”
Leading 8-3, E-B-F went on a 7-0 run before Clarke gained a point on a ball into the net on a Rocket return. Back-to-back 5-0 runs, split with an attack that went out to give Clarke a point, ended the second set.
The third and final set saw Clarke fight, similar to the first. E-B-F took a 10-3 lead, scoring six unanswered points before a serve into the net gave the Lady Indians the serve. Kiaya Dunbar tipped a ball over the net into no man’s land and a long Rocket attack put Clarke back into the set at 10-6.
E-B-F added another point before Kiaya Dunbar recorded a block and Henry added an ace. The Lady Indians cut things down to 12-11 before E-B-F rattled off a 5-0 run, putting Clarke out of the match.
Clarke was able to sandwich a few points between 3-0 and 4-0 runs to give the Rockets the win.
The loss was tough early in the season, but Pavlick said the positive is that it was only the second match of the season and the team still has time to grow and figure out rotations that will give them the best opportunity late in the year.