Thursday's match was nothing new for coach Tim Martin and his Muscatine volleyball team. Despite its record (5-23, 3-6) Muscatine has played well in spots this year and even challenged some of the better teams on its schedule.
But Muscatine hasn't often done well in the face of adversity, and Thursday was no exception. After losing a close first set and leading in the second, Muscatine dropped serve and Clinton dominated from that point forward on its way to a 25-22, 25-18, 25-14 win over Muscatine.
"We played well, we were getting our passes and running our offensive sets," Martin said. "But they would score or block, and the next thing you know they have the ball back scoring."
That's exactly what happened in the second set, Martin recalled the Muskies leading by "four or five points," but once they dropped serve the River Queens did what he hoped to see from his team: show a killer instinct and close out the regular season finale.
"It's kind of like we're on repeat all the time," Martin said. "We play well in spurts, but next thing you know we're playing poorly, we can't pass the ball, and we're not running offense or we're just making mental errors."
Now Muscatine will turn its attention to the postseason, which will begin with a home match against Burlington Wednesday at 7 p.m. The teams met twice this season and the Muskies owned both, including a five-set road win.
"They were fired up once they found out the regional pairings and it's a home game," Martin said. "We have to be able to do the right things and be effective in all facets."