Grace Tubbs, a four-year varsity player, had her most productive season in a River Queen jersey this fall. She recorded a Mississippi Athletic Conference-best 360 kills (3.21 per set) and did so with a .329 hitting efficiency. The 6-foot-5 middle also was 109 of 116 serving with 15 aces and among the conference leaders with 72 total blocks.
Tubbs was named the MAC player of the year, Class 4A second team all-state by the Iowa Girls Coaches Association and was the lone local invited to participate in the IGCA Senior All-Star game.
The Iowa signee finished her career with 833 kills and 222 total blocks.
"This definitely was one of my best seasons," Tubbs said. "Physically, I'm hitting it harder, I'm blocking stronger and quicker on my feet."
Clinton spent all season ranked in the top 15 of 4A. The River Queens finished 7-2 in the MAC, a game behind co-champions Pleasant Valley and Davenport Assumption. They reached the regional final before losing to eventual state champion Dubuque Wahlert in four sets.
"It was an awesome season, but I don't think we got everything done that we hoped to get done," Tubbs said. "Nothing, though, can replace the team we had this year because it was really special."
Tubbs pointed to a 20-kill performance against North Scott in the season opener, a five-set win, as a highlight. She had a career-high 27 kills in a five-setter versus Bettendorf.
In the regional final, she had an opportunity to block club teammate and Kansas State recruit Aliyah Carter of Dubuque Wahlert.
"That was fun," she said.
Early in her career, Tubbs was not considered the team's primary offensive option.
When Tubbs was on the floor this season, there was no question which direction setter Brooke Mulholland was going in a critical juncture.
"It is a lot of pressure, but was something I loved to experience," Tubbs said. "You feel like the weight of the team is on your shoulders even though it is not.
"For me, being a front-row player, there was a sense of urgency every time I stepped in there. I definitely had to take charge when I was in there for those three rotations."
Tubbs has been committed to Iowa's volleyball program for about three years. She signed a national letter of intent last week to make it official.
She has not had conversations with the coaching staff about a possible redshirt season, but Tubbs admits it might take a year or two before she is ready to be a significant contributor for the Hawkeyes.
"Although I'm the tallest, I'm not the strongest or the fastest," she said. "I understand I might have to step in and be a good cheerleader for my teammates next year. It's a huge step going from (Clinton) to Big Ten volleyball.
"I'm going to work as hard as I can to earn that playing time. I'm excited to be there and be big."
Tubbs plans to spend substantial time in the weight room this offseason. She'll also play club with the Adrenaline (out of Cedar Rapids) this winter and spring.
"This is the time where I can get in the weight room and get one-on-one time with the coaches and learn new techniques," Tubbs said. "I can go hard without any other distractions."
-- Matt Coss