COUNCIL BLUFFS — Susie South sits in a Council Bluffs Lewis Central section to watch volleyball matches most nights.
But most nights, her husband and daughter aren't standing on separate sides of the court.
South took in a family feud of sorts Tuesday night. On one end of the floor, longtime L.C. coach Dennis South was trying to get his team into a rhythm following a rough last 10 days. On the other, Atlantic's first-year coach, Bonnie Clinch, was working to build a program that went 0-28 last season.
“Tonight I'm completely neutral — I'm here for everybody,” said Susie South, sitting behind the scorer's table. “Every other game I'll be able to cheer. We'll come out of it and we'll still love each other at the end.”
Father got the best of daughter in their first meeting guiding different Hawkeye Ten Conference teams. Iowa Class 4-A No. 12 Lewis Central (10-12, 4-1) established itself immediately before pulling away for a 25-4, 25-14, 25-20 sweep. Junior Reghan Coyle boomed a match-high 13 kills for L.C. and Abby Bergsten added 10 to go with 10 aces.
Dennis South saw shades of his own system playing out in Atlantic's black-and-gold uniforms. Quick sets to middles, for example, are becoming a staple of the Trojan offense. Defensive alignments are eerily familiar.
Both coaches paced the sideline Tuesday. Both frequently checked statistics and traded high-fives with players throughout the evening.
“She has her own style,” South said. “The girls love her, and for Atlantic to win some matches is a big positive for that program. She has nothing to put her head down for.”
Clinch practically grew up in the Lewis Central gym before graduating from the school in 2007. She went on to play at Nebraska Christian College and coached L.C.'s eighth-grade teams the last two seasons before accepting her new position during the summer.
Sophomore setter Kaci Hohenthaner was one Titan playing against her former middle school coach, who was also her Top Ten club team leader. Hohenthaner said players had talked about the opportunity to get a “family” win for weeks, even if South didn't bring it up.
“He obviously taught her his stuff,” said Hohenthaner, who finished with 14 assists and three aces. “After every pass hits the ground, she knows what to say like he does.”
Clinch, who lives in Omaha, makes the two-hour, 40-minute round trip to Atlantic every day. While the Trojans (3-18, 0-6) run two or three of the same plays as Lewis Central — and use similar practice drills — they still have plenty of learning to do before advancing to more sophisticated strategies.
So far, Clinch said, the emphasis has been starting fresh with basic fundamentals. Her players got a glimpse of their potential in the third set Tuesday, trailing 19-18 before dropping six of the final eight points.
Atlantic got a team-high three kills from junior Rachelle Wagoner and freshman Catherine Leonard.
“That was fun; he's been my coach my whole life,” Clinch said. “Everything I do I've learned from him.
“We kept saying winner buys dinner. So he's buying me dinner tonight.”
Clinch, the youngest of four children, said she also enjoyed the buildup to the match. Her sister, Kacy Johanson, sent both her and South a picture that simply said, “We love you, Coach.”
Before opening serve, some of her former L.C. teachers asked if she was there to sing the national anthem. Early in the third set, she successfully argued for a replay after officials had called Atlantic for a rotation violation.
“I was telling my coaches that it's weird sitting on the wrong side of the court,” Clinch said. “Then I said, 'No, this is the right side of the court. I'm right where I should be.' ”
Atlantic (3-18, 0-6) ......................... 4 14 20
CB Lewis Central (10-12, 4-1) ....... 25 25 25
A (kills-aces-blocks): Rachelle Wagoner 3-2-0, Bailey Walter 1-0-0, Erin Olsen 0-1-0, Skye Thompson 1-0-0, Victoria Lovell 0-0-0, Catherine Leonard 3-0-1, Hailey Waters 1-0-0, Macey Schmitt 0-1-0, Meghan Reilly 1-1-0.
CBLC: Madyson Hamblin 0-0-0, Jordanne Jensen 0-0-0, Kaci Hohenthaner 0-3-0, Emily Albertsen 2-0-1, Reghan Coyle 13-0-0, Hannah Dmyterko 0-0-0, Megan Driver 9-3-2, Hannah Shea 3-1-0, Brenna Jones 3-1-1, Natalie Patten 0-1-0, Abby Bergsten 10-10-1.
Set assists: A 10 (Walter 8, Reilly 1, Olsen 1). CBLC 35 (Coyle 18, Hohenthaner 14, Shea 1, Patten 2).