Whatever led to Clare’s straight sets volleyball win over visiting Shepherd Monday night head coach Emily Blackburn may want to buy it in bulk.
“It was great, we played awesome,” Blackburn said of the 25-17, 25-14 and 25-16 non-league win. “I don’t know where these girls came from. We were moving, getting our sets up and our hits up. If we do that we can get points. We’re ready to get some wins in.”
The Lady Pioneers wasted little time setting the tone, getting crisp spikes by Mackenzie Thayer and Krysten Kruskamp to take an 11-8 first set lead.
Several Blue Jay errors helped Clare increase its lead and eventually pulled ahead 19-12 on a Cassidy Campbell spike.
Laura Walton and Campbell added a kill apiece to keep Clare comfortably ahead and won the set at 25-17 on a Shepherd attack error.
“We came out swinging,” Blackburn said. “The passion was there and it was great to see.”
The Lady Jays took a 10-8 lead in the second set but from there it was all Clare, as the Pioneers outscored Shepherd 17-4 the rest of the set.
Alex Rowell came off the bench to help spark the comeback, spiking a free-ball to make it 15-11, had a spike that made it 17-11 and went up for a block to put Clare up 19-11.
Late in the set Thayer added an ace to put Clare up 23-13, Campbell had a spike and and a Shepherd attack error ended the set at 25-14.
Walton helped Clare get off to a hot start in the third set, getting a spike to give her team a 6-1 lead and later in the set a kill by Thayer made it 14-8. Later on, Walton changed pace with a pair of tip-kills, the first of which made it 17-8 and the second made it 21-10.
Campbell delivered a spike to keep Clare up 23-13, though Shepherd closed the gap slightly to 23-16. The set and match ended on a back-to-back errors by the Blue Jays.
“The girls were pumped,” Blackburn said. “The intensity filled the gym. It felt good to get a non-conference win. Our serving was excellent. If you can serve at 97 percent you’ll win the game.”
Campbell led Clare with eight kills on 26 attacks and had two aces. Thayer had two kills on 16 attacks and had two aces, Walton had five kills on 15 attacks and Kenzie Humphrey led the team in passing with 17 assists.
Clare played at Farwell on Wednesday in Jack Pine Conference play and hosts Standish-Sterling on Monday.