Despite nearly every game being tightly contested, Carl Junction was able to earn a 3-0 sweep of Joplin in a late-season Central Ozark Conference contest inside Kaminsky Gymnasium on Tuesday.
“I thought we struggled tonight,” Carl Junction coach Cheryl Sharples said. “We just looked like we were playing in slow motion and that created a lot of errors for ourselves. Somehow, we found a way to dig deep and figured out how to win.”
The Eagles (12-10-5, 1-6 COC) led for much of the first set before the Bulldogs (19-6, 4-2 COC) rallied late on the way to a 27-25 win. Carl Junction started off with a sizable lead to open the second game before Joplin found its rhythm to take the lead midway through. A huge service run swung the momentum in favor of the Bulldogs, who went on to win 25-18. CJ played in front for most of the third set before the Eagles briefly tied it in the middle stages, but the Bulldogs never gave up the lead en route to a 25-21 win to complete the sweep.
“I think we are playing really good volleyball,” Joplin coach Desiree Felker said. “We play good volleyball through the majority of the games. Now we just have to figure out a way to play well all the way through games. … Once we get that taken care of, we are going to be on the other side of these kinds of games.”
Joplin led 21-17 late in the first set on a kill from Allie Lawrence before CJ’s Kylie Scott earned a kill to force a sideout. Scott served up an ace and followed with a kill to cut the Bulldogs’ deficit to 21-20.
Carl Junction’s Maggie Brown earned a block moments later to tie the set at 22-all. A kill from Joplin’s Angelina Schramm forced a sideout and put the Eagles up one before an attack error and block by Karissa Chase put the Bulldogs back front 25-24. Schramm earned another kill, but Chase matched it with a kill of her own to give CJ a 26-25 lead, with the Bulldogs closing the set out on the next point.
“We have talked about playing with confidence and wanting the ball in their hand,” Felker said when asked what the key to taking the next step in close games is for Joplin. “Right now, we are playing careful at times when we need to be all in.”
Scott boosted Carl Junction to a 6-0 lead to start the second game thanks to a long service run that was highlighted by a kill from Destiny Buerge and Brown. Joplin whittled into the lead with multiple kills from Emma Floyd and Schramm before ultimately taking a 12-10 lead on a block from Logan Bruggeman.
The Eagles pushed the lead to 14-12 on a kill from Lawrence before Scott forced a sideout with a kill and went back to the service line to rip off nine straight points, swinging the momentum permanently in favor over the Bulldogs 22-14. Scott had three aces in the run, with Buerge earning a kill and Logan Jones a block.
“I kind of felt like in the first game, we were all serving a little tentative,” Sharples said. “In the second game, (Kylie) really went after it and got on a nice run. She has a great serve when she is on. She can be really effective and was hitting the spots I was giving her well.”
While Carl Junction played in front for much of the final set, the Bulldogs never held a lead greater than four, which came off a kill from Brown to push the lead to 14-10. The Eagles trimmed the lead to 16-15 on a block from Bruggeman and tied it on an attack error before a sideout followed by an ace from Olivia Vediz put CJ back on top 18-16. Joplin tied the set at 19-all on an ace from Lawrence, but a kill from Scott followed by consecutive kills from Buerge put Carl Junction in front 22-19, with Scott ending the match shortly after with a kill.
“These types of wins absolutely prepare us for the postseason,” Sharples said. “They help give you the confidence to come back when you are down and not let that be the end of your game. The further people push us every night the better it is going to make us in the postseason.
Buerge led Carl Junction with 17 kills, while Scott had nine kills and five aces. Jones finished with 32 assists, six kills, 14 digs and two blocks. Brown had 13 digs, while Vediz added 10 digs.
Schramm and Floyd led Joplin with seven kills each, with Floyd adding three blocks. Kaya Cooper had 11 assists and eight digs, with Paisley Parker finishing with 20 digs and two aces.
Carl Junction hosts Branson on Thursday, while Joplin hosts Willard.