Prep volleyball: Savages sweep Keota in neighborly battle

Sep. 14—SIGOURNEY — One day, they're coming together to cheer on their football team.

Just three days later, Sigourney and Keota volleyball players were battling each other on opposite sides of the net. The South Iowa Cedar League rivals were back on the court facing each other on Monday.

"There are a lot of them that are good friends," Sigourney head volleyball coach Sierra Davis said of the players on the Savages and the Eagles. "Once it comes game time, I think they just have to put their game faces on and pretend they're not friends for a little bit.

"Right after the game, they can be best friends."

For a couple hours on Monday, however, Sigourney and Keota players went head-to-head. The Savages used a dominant attack that ended with 37 kills in three games completing a 25-22, 25-17, 25-14 sweep in the SICL debut for both teams.

"Our defense getting it to our hitters and our hitters swinging hard each time is what won it for us," Davis said. "They (Keota) don't have the attack that we do. We just have to use that to our advantage every single time."

While the Eagles couldn't match the Savages swing for swing, Keota's defense gave them a chance to take the opening game of the rivalry match. Keota (5-3, 0-1 SICL) finished with 74 digs, setting up the opportunities to put points on the board by simply outlasting Sigourney for much of the first set, building a 21-16 lead.

"We came into the game knowing that defense was going to win it," Davis said. "Keota's scrappy. We had to be scrappier."

Sigourney was ultimately able to getting the ball to their attackers. Nine different Savages took a swing at the net with seven connecting on at least one kill, including 10 by Amiya Smallwood with three coming during a 9-1 run to close out the opening set.

Sigourney kept right on attacking, averaging 40 swings per set against the Eagles. Josephine Moore and Reagan Clarahan each finished with eight kills as the Savages dominated early and often in the final two games, jumping out to 5-0 leads in each set on the way to clinching the sweep.

"Everyone realized we had to buckle down or it wasn't going to happen for us," Clarahan said. "It's just fun to be around my teammates. It's amazing when everyone is setting up the ball really well and all your teammates are putting the ball away."

For Clarahan, the battle with Keota truly hit close to home. Across the net from Sigourney was Keota junior Kimberly Clarahan, who was a perfect 7-7 serving with two aces, 11 digs and was 5-6 attacking against her cousin from Sigourney.

"It's interesting that you can be out there with these girls cheering together for the football team. You're cheering together for both schools, but then you have to go out there and compete against them," Clarahan said. "It gets you going a little bit when you know you're going up against a family member. Kimberly had a pretty good night and Keota's having a pretty good season. They've certainly improved every year we've faced them. It's been a closer head-to-head match-up each season."

Dani Allar added four of Sigourney's seven ace serves during Monday's match as part of a perfect 14-14 serving effort while collecting a team-leading 14 digs. Smallwood added three aces on 15-18 serving for the Savages.

Sigourney (6-4, 1-0 SICL) hosts Iowa Valley on Monday. It will be the first trip to Sigourney's home gym for the Tigers since losing an epic Class 1A, District 6 quarterfinal in 2021 as the Savages clinched a two-plus hour 31-29, 26-24, 21-25, 27-29, 15-13 postseason win.

— Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.