TUSCOLA — The Clyde volleyball team took sole possession of first place in the District 6-3A race on Tuesday, sweeping Jim Ned 25-13, 26-24, 25-19 at Bill Thornton Arena to improve to 3-0 in league play.
Entering the night tied with the Lady Indians atop the district standings, the Lady Bulldogs (23-11 overall) overcame a strong start by Jim Ned to pull away in Game 1 and rallied from game point in Game 2 to set up the sweep.
It was a key road victory for CHS, which now holds a one-match lead on both Jim Ned (14-10, 2-1) and Wall (25-10, 2-1) with matches against Brady and San Angelo TLCA to wrap up the first half of league play.
“It’s always tough to come and play at Jim Ned,” Clyde coach Laura Carr said. “The crowd on both sides was great, and it was a great atmosphere again tonight.
“We didn’t play our best game. They came out ready to go against us. In the first set, I thought we played pretty well, but our passing broke down a little bit in the second set. And when we can’t pass, we can’t set our hitters. So we had to focus on that midway through that second set and try to push to the end of that set and on into the third.”
While Clyde ultimately took care of business Tuesday, the Lady Bulldogs were met with significant resistance at points in all three games.
In the opening set, Jim Ned rallied from an early 7-4 deficit to hold leads at 9-8, 10-9 and 11-10, before CHS finally took control with a 7-0 run. Up 16-11 at that point and 17-13 a few points later, Carr’s squad closed the game with an 8-0 run to take the an early lead.
Jim Ned did not go away, however.
In fact, the Lady Indians raced out to an early 5-1 lead in Game 2 and maintained that margin to 10-6 before Clyde finally settled in. And even after the Lady Bulldogs pulled ahead 15-12, Jim Ned landed a counter punch, regaining the lead at 19-18 and coming within a point of evening the match at 24-23.
But again, Clyde finished with a flourish, scoring the final three points to put the Lady Indians on the ropes.
“I think that would have changed the outcome a little bit (if we could have won Game 2),” Jim Ned coach Miranda Garcia said. “Maybe. I think it would have.”
With a chance to close out the match, the Lady Bulldogs led Jim Ned throughout in the deciding third game, scoring thee of the first four points and keeping the Lady Indians at arm’s length the rest of the way.
Garcia’s squad trimmed a five-point deficit to three at 17-14 and 18-15, but Clyde responded with a 5-2 run to go up 23-17 and withstood one final challenge from Jim Ned to seal the victory.
“The second set was a little too close for comfort and we talked about that in between the second and third set, that we needed to come out strong and make sure we showed dominance from the beginning,” Carr said. “I felt like we did that a little bit better in that third set.”
Lexi Burleson led the attack for CHS, finishing with match highs for kills (13) and hitting percentage (.310). Liz Underwood added eight kills, followed by Payton Phillips and Aven Horn with five.
Phillips led the team in assists (17) and aces (2), while Abby Carr added 13 assists.
Defensively, Underwood had a match-high 13 digs and two blocks to share the team lead with Burleson. Phillips and Chloe Ukle, meanwhile, added seven digs apiece.
On the other side of the net, Jim Ned was paced by Avery Vinson with six kills and 11 assists and Kate Bryant with four kills and 10 assists. Both players also added an ace to share the team lead with Taylor Barnes.
At the net, Keeli Stockton led all players with three blocks.
While the match didn’t go her team’s way, Garcia saw plenty to plenty of positives to build on going forward.
“I thought we played really well, we just made some mental mistakes at bad times,” Garcia said. “We played well overall, but our mistakes came at crucial times.
“They’re always really ready to play Clyde, so they came out ready to go, but we just had some mental errors that hurt us.”
Now alone atop the 6-3A standings, the Lady Bulldogs’ goal moving forward is to stay there.
Beating Wall and Jim Ned in their first three district matches has them off to a good start.
“It’s very important,” Carr said. “Where we place in district plays a very important role in who we play in the playoffs. We talked going into it about how we wanted to make sure we were undefeated through the first round and obviously trying to stay undefeated through the second as well.”