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DISTRICT VOLLEYBALL: Second-seeded Joplin upsets top-seeded Carthage in the district championship

Lucas Davis

For the first time in more than 20 years, the Joplin volleyball program will be competing in the sectional round of the state tournament.

On Monday, the second-seeded Eagles trailed 1-0 after the opening set before rallying to win the final three games over top-seeded Carthage 21-25, 25-17, 25-20 and 25-22 for a 3-1 victory in the Class 5 District 12 championship inside Kaminsky Gymnasium. 

“It’s so exciting for these kids,” first-year Joplin coach Desiree Felker said. “They have worked so hard all year. They are the hardest working group of kids I have ever met. There were several times this season where we could have said, ‘things are getting a little too difficult, I don’t know that I want to keep putting in the work.’ But they showed up everyday and did not quit. I think their play tonight shows that. After that first set, we could have gotten down, but we came roaring back and we never looked back after that.”

“I think that Joplin played a really amazing game and we did not,” Carthage coach Bradyn Webb said. “I do think that there are positives out of this. Sophie Shannon played the best game I have ever seen her play. And I think we stepped up on defense a lot.

“But I said before the game that Joplin was going to serve aggressively at us, and we did not handle that well. If we pass a little bit better and get into system more, it is a totally different game.”

It is the first district title for the Eagles volleyball program since the 1996 season.

“In the locker room before the game we talked about how nerves are normal in situations like this,” Felker said. “But I reminded them that they were prepared for this. We have prepared them for this and they were ready to do what it takes to win a district championship. Some of these kids were in this situation last year against Lee’s Summit West, and I think they were able to build off of that experience a little bit.”

Carthage closes the season with an 18-14-1 record and graduates seniors Olivia Bourgault, Sydnee Dudolski, Grace Pickering and Shannon.

“This group has been great,” Webb said of her seniors. “When I first met with them before the season, they said they wanted to be a different group. They wanted to lead in a different way than they’d seen in the past, and they really have. They stepped up and led in every single way possible, on the court or off the court. … I am really proud of them and the way they have changed the culture of the program. I am hoping our underclassmen can learn from that.”

“I am really proud of them,” Webb added about the season as a whole for her Tigers. “I think they exceeded expectations. We’ve had to face a lot of adversity this year, and we have really powered through it. Our girls have really stepped up to the challenge. Obviously, it didn’t work out in our favor tonight and we got outplayed, but I always tell my girls that volleyball does not define them—their character and how they work does. I think they showed that tonight. They gave 100 percent.”

Joplin (15-11-5) advances to the sectional round and plays on the road against the winner of the District 11 tournament between top-seeded Nixa (29-4) and second-seeded Kickapoo (26-7) at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.


Joplin and Carthage played even in the opening set before a five-point run by Dudolski gave the Tigers a 12-5 lead. The run was fueled by the defensive play at the net from Shannon, who registered a pair of blocks, with Mia Camarillo adding a kill.

Carthage built a 17-8 lead before a kill from Joplin’s Angelina Schramm forced a sideout, with Jayla Hunter taking service. Hunter proceeded to get the Eagles back into the game with a four-point run that included three aces to cut the deficit to 17-13. The Eagles later used a kill from Emma Floyd, a block from Bailey Owens, an ace from Allie Lawrence and another block by Owens to come all the way back and tie the first set at 21-21. 

Carthage senior Sophie Shannon earns a kill in the Tigers’ loss to Joplin in the district title game on Monday. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

The Tigers scored the final four points of the set to earn the win. Joplin committed three errors and Bourgault recorded an ace. 

“We got down early in that first set and we stopped, took a couple of timeouts, kind of refocused and settled in,” Felker said. “We just reminded them they had what it took. They just had to clean it up and play their game. I think they responded and did that.”

Midway through the second set with the Eagles leading 13-11, Hunter came up with another big service run, eight straight points, which propelled Joplin to a commanding 21-11 advantage. Hunter had an ace, while Schramm picked up three kills and a block.

“All season we’ve known she can do big things for us behind the service line,” Felker said of Hunter’s work in service. “At practice, she gives our passers a run for their money. She is very calm and collected, and you can tell her to put the ball anywhere and she is going to go after that person. I think that her getting those two early runs gave them the confidence we needed to push through those early moments.”

Lawrence picked up two more kills and Emma Floyd added a kill before Abby Edwards finished off the second set with a kill.

The Eagles had a marginal lead early in the third set before Joplin used a 6-1 run to build a 12-5 lead. Schramm had two kills and a block, while Edwards added a kill and Floyd a block.

Carthage responded right away with a four-point run on Raven Probert’s serve to trim the lead to 12-9. Abby Holderbaum had a block and a kill, while Pickering added a kill to fill out the run.

Back to back kills from Owens later in the set pushed the lead to 19-16, with Edwards earning consecutive kills moments later to push the lead to 22-18 and eventually sent the Eagles to the win.

Camarillo registered a kill early in the fourth set to tie the game at 6-6, but that was the last time the Tigers would find themselves even with the Eagles. Joplin pushed the lead to 11-6 on kills from Schramm and Owens. The Eagles methodically pushed their lead to 20-12 on a block and kill from Floyd. A block from Schramm late brought Joplin to game, set and match point at 24-17.

Joplin senior Angelina Schramm tips a kill in the Eagles’ win over Carthage in the district title game inside Kaminsky Gymnasium on Monday. Photo by Shawn Fowler.

“She doesn’t know how to quit,” Felker said of Schramm’s play in the win. “I think her teammates respond to that. She picks them up and lets them know, ‘we’re fine, let’s keep going.’ … Players respond to a teammate who is not only able to tell you how to do something but are willing to go out and go after it fearlessly.”

The Tigers didn’t go away quietly, however. Carthage ripped off the next five points in a row, including multiple kills from Dudolski, to bring the score to 24-22, but an error in service ended the rally and preserved the win for Joplin.

“You have to give credit to Carthage because they didn’t go away,” Felker said. “It would have been very easy to go away when we were up big in that fourth set. But, I think we were able to maintain our composure there at the end when Carthage was giving us a run for our money. I am really proud of our kids for that. They did what they needed to do to get the job done.”


Schramm led Joplin with 12 kills, six digs and four blocks, while Floyd added eight kills and four blocks. Edwards had seven kills and three digs, while Lawrence had six kills and 11 digs. Hunter finished with six aces and a team-high 21 digs, with Paisley Parker earning 19 digs. Abby Hembree finished with 17 assists and Kaya Cooper added 16 assists and seven digs.

Dudolski led Carthage with 13 kills and 13 digs. Pickering added seven kills and a block, while Camarillo (four digs) and Holderbaum (two blocks) each had six kills. Shannon led the team with eight blocks and added three kills. Bourgault had 18 digs to lead the Tigers defensively, while Probert finished with a team-high 31 assists.


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