MONTICELLO — Morgan Hickman is within months of completing a trifecta rarely attained by high school athletes. The Clinton senior soon will become a four-year varsity starter in all three sports she plays.
What it means, she said, is “I’ve been through a lot of Senior Nights.”
That experience didn’t prepare her for her own this week. “There were a lot of tears shed,” she said.
What it did was make Hickman and her senior-laden Clinton teammates anxious to extend this season before starting a new one.
Hickman was present for another Senior Night on Thursday and helped make sure it wasn’t a happy one for Monticello. She had 28 assists and seven kills as Clinton topped the Sages 25-18, 18-25, 25-17.
On a night the onlookers included Parkland College assistant Heather Horn — herself a former setter — Hickman displayed what Clinton coach Tracey Huls Mathis said is “her natural ability to lead and make big plays with the game on the line.”
Mathis’ team is 27-8. She has her players in the tournament mind-set.
“For our last two conference matches, we talked about playing like the season was on the line now so that when it is, you can step up and make those plays,” Mathis said.
Clinton is part of a Class 2A regional where three other 20-win teams are at Maroa-Forsyth next week.
Though Hickman has been a versatile player for all seasons, also excelling in basketball and softball, she said there was never any question where her loyalty was placed.
“Volleyball is my best and favorite,” Hickman said. “It has been my goal since sixth grade to play it in college.”
Murray State University has shown interest as has Parkland, which has targeted Hickman as one of its top recruits. When Hickman saw Horn in the stands during Thursday’s second set, it didn’t add pressure.
“It made me more enthusiastic,” Hickman said. “She is such a positive person. I love Parkland’s program, the coaches, environment.”
There’s something else high on her list of likes: Clinton’s passers.
“She will tell you she has some of the best passers in the (Okaw Valley) Conference,” Mathis said. “Hailey (Ginger) was spectacular tonight, as was Mariah (Monkman).”
All six Clinton seniors play regularly and they have a presence, Hickman said, that’s hard to beat.
“Us six seniors are one of the closest groups you’ll find,” she said.
Senior Bailey Walker had 11 kills to lead the Maroons. Senior Taelor Eads had four of her seven blocks in the third set, one for match point.
“It’s so rewarding,” Mathis said, “when you see kids do things we work on in practice.”
Clinton senior Ally Lawson had seven kills.
Monticello (12-16) scored the first point in all three sets and created seven ties in Set 1 before winning Set 2. Seniors Grace Blickhan and Katie Lienhart had nine and eight kills, respectively, to lead the team. Senior Kaitlyn Hunt had 20 digs.