A tearful goodbyeClear Creek-Amana ends Washington's season in the regional quarterfinals
TIFFIN — Following Monday’s Class 4A regional quarterfinal match at Clear Creek-Amana, Washington senior Sammy Ellingson had tears in her eyes as she realized her volleyball career was over.
The Clippers swept Washington from the postseason by scores of 25-21, 25-14 and 25-15.
“It’s very disappointing,” she said of Monday’s loss to Clear Creek-Amana. “It’s hard because you always think, ‘Oh, we’ll get them next game. We always have next game. Or we always have next year.’ Just the fact that you don’t have a next year anymore.”
Ellingson and the Demons came out in the first set and played like there was no tomorrow. After Clear Creek-Amana took a 21-17 lead, Washington scored the next three points, and Ellingson’s kill trimmed the Clippers’ lead to one. But Clear Creek-Amana scored the next three points and went on to win 25-21.
“We played really hard in that first set,” Ellingson said. “We came out really strong and really hard and ready to win.”
But the Clippers only got stronger as the night went on.
“We made a number of unforced hitting errors in the first set,” Clear Creek-Amana head coach Brian Bronzynski said. “I don’t want to take anything away from [Washington], because they were able to take advantage and score some points, but quite honestly we did it to ourselves. We made probably 5-6 hitting errors in that first set, and they took advantage. I think after that our hitters got dialed in.”
Clear Creek-Amana jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the second set before sophomore Anna Wheeler spiked down a kill, junior Stephanie Fishback got a block and the Clippers hit a ball into the net. But 9-7 was as close as the Demons got, as Clear Creek-Amana rolled to a 21-14 win.
“Clear Creek picked it up a notch,” Ellingson said. “We had to pick it up, too, and unfortunately we didn’t.”
The Clippers got kills from a pair of kills from senior Maliah Fligg and kills from senior Amy Kalkhoff and sophomore Dacia Lipkea as they jumped out to a 5-1 lead in the third set. And when the Demons got within three points, the Clippers responded with a kill from Fligg and three blocks by sophomore Natalie Brimeyer. Clear Creek-Amana finished off Washington with a 25-15 win.
Fligg had 11 kills to lead the Clippers, while Kalkhoff and Brimeyer added seven apiece. Brimeyer also had seven blocks. Senior Liz Hergert had 24 assists in the match, and Fligg had 13.
“They’re a good team, and I knew coming in it was going to take quite a bit to be able to beat them,” Washington head coach Jeff Spenner said. “But I think in the first game we showed we have that potential.”
Clear Creek-Amana (21-13) advances to Thursday’s regional semifinal at Cedar Rapids Xavier (24-11). Washington ends its season with a record of 13-16.
Ellingson and Wheeler had five kills apiece to lead the Demons, and senior Beth Dillon had three kills. Senior Lauren Kimball dished out 14 assists. Ellingson had a team-high 19 digs, and junior Maddie Collins added 12. Fishback had 11 digs, and Kimball chipped in eight.
It was the final match for Ellingson, Dillon, Kimball and Johannah Vittetoe, who missed the season due to an elbow injury.
“They’ve been tremendous,” Spenner said of his seniors. “Sammy, Beth and Lauren have done a phenomenal job. Johannah obviously hasn’t played this year, but she’s always been great to work with. They’ve been one of the best groups I’ve had to work with.”