BY JARED PORTER
The Carl Junction volleyball team was one point away from claiming a firstset win over its neighboring rival Webb City.
The Cardinals, however, changed the tone of the night from there.
Faced with a 24-22 deficit, Webb City came out of a timeout and closed on a 5-1 run to steal the opening set. The Cardinals then carried that momentum over to the second set en route to a 27-25, 25-22 triumph over the Bulldogs on Tuesday night at Carl Junction High School.
"It's been a long time since we've beaten Carl Junction in the (Central Ozark Conference) — probably since we've been in the COC," said Webb City coach Rhonda Lawrence, whose team also swept Carl Junction in the CJ Classic on Sept. 28. "But I'm just proud of the girls because we worked well together and the chemistry was very good."
The Cardinals were paced offensively by senior outside hitter Anna Swearengen, who recorded six kills on a .500 hitting percentage while logging two service aces.
"Anna Swearengen, she's got a killer game," Lawrencesaid. "When she's on the floor and she's getting the ball, your odds are 50-50 that she's going to get a kill."
A back-and-forth opening game saw the Cardinals (19-3) take their largest lead when Swearengen recorded an ace for a 15-12 advantage.
The set was eventually tied at 21 before Carl Junction (14-8) went on a 3-1 surge that was capped by a point scored by junior outside hitter Salma Lewis, who tipped the ball over the outstretched hands of two Webb City defenders to force a Cardinals timeout.
Webb City then came out of the break and scored three straight points — one on a kill by Peeples, one on a Carl Junction hitting error and then another on an ace by Swearengen — to take a 25-24 advantage.
Following a kill by Lewis that tied the set at 25, theCardinals clinched the set win with back-to-back kills by Peeples and senior Jasmine Putnam.
"We didn't finish there, and they definitely stole the momentum from us heading into Game 2," Carl Junction coach Cheryl Sharples said.
Webb City led by as many as six points in the second set and held a 23-17 advantage.
The Bulldogs responded with five straight points — Lewis accounting for four of them with three kills and one block — to trim the Cardinals' lead to 23-22.
"They started adjusting, and Salma was killing us at times because she's a great player," Lawrence said. "But we just started playing to our strengths and did some things that made it harder for them to get the ball to her."
After a CJ serving error, a kill attempt by Lewis was contested by Webb City senior middle Ashley Cates and forced just wide of the left boundary line to secure the match win for Webb City.
"Ashley Cates has been stepping up all year," Lawrence said. "I assign her the hardest hitter every game, and when she gets a jump on them, it forces them to adjust."
Lewis finished with 16 kills while Logan Jones had a team-high 26 assists for the Bulldogs. Dani Wrensch recorded eight digs and Jillian Kennedy chipped in three blocks.
"Our girls showed some tenacity, but I also think we made some young mistakes at times tonight," Sharples said. "That's probably going to happen to us because we're young. So we just have to learn from them, move on and get better."
Both teams are back in action on Thursday, with Webb City playing at Nixa and Carl Junction at Ozark.
Joplin Globe 10/09/2019 (Used by permission)