For volleyball aficionados looking at the teams entered in the Malcolm Boosters’ Invitational, most would have assumed the Sept. 14 championship match would come down to Lincoln Lutheran and Malcolm. After all, Wichita State commit Mariah Buss and her Warriors were ranked No. 2 in Class C1 with their only loss coming to Class B No. 2 Waverly. In the opposite pool, the Clippers were the favorite to win their way to the championship match.
While Malcolm did its part, Ashland-Greenwood made a mess of the Lincoln Lutheran plans as the the Bluejays swept the Warriors on their way to the tournament final.
What a final it was as the two teams exchanged blows in what ended as a 27-25, 22-25, 25-22 tournament title for Ashland-Greenwood.
“They are the best we’ve seen this year,” Malcolm head coach Amber Dolliver said. “They have some solid, difference-making players that made things tough for us.”
The Clippers' path to the championship match included three sweeps and one match that went three sets. The sweeps for Malcolm came against Milford (25-23, 25-21), Fort Calhoun (25-21, 25-20), and Centennial (25-18, 25-13). Fairbury forced a third set in the Clippers' Saturday morning win (23-25, 25-17, 25-16).
Kiley Elkins continues to provide a spark for Malcolm. The sophomore transfer from Raymond Central averaged 11 kills and six digs per match throughout the weekend.
“Kiley has been a nice addition for us,” Dolliver said. “She brought a nice work ethic to our team. She’s willing to sell out on every play.”
Ellie Baumert continues to come up big as she distributes the ball. The 6-2 sophomore Texas Tech commit averaged more than 24 set assists per match while also leading the team in blocks.
“Ellie is an important piece to the puzzle,” Dolliver said. “She can do a lot of things for us, and when she’s on, our team is an all around better team.”
Baumert’s younger sister, Grace, was also instrumental in the Clippers’ successful weekend. The 6-1 freshman averaged nearly 11 kills per match while also landing 12 ace serves.
“Grace is going to be a special player for us,” Dolliver said. “She is one of a bunch of young players we’ll lean on this season.”
The Clippers (8-3) have a lighter schedule this week as they travel to Wilber-Clatonia (2-10) Tuesday before facing David City (2-3) and Milford (4-4) at a triangular Thursday night in David City.
“We’re still trying to figure out who we are as a team,” Dolliver said. “This week will give us a chance to try some things and start to settle in on what may be our best rotations.”