CARL JUNCTION, Mo. — After a long day of volleyball that started at 8:30 in the morning, the Carl Junction Bulldogs wrapped up the Dr. Jeffrey Knutzen CJ Classic volleyball tournament with a 25-16, 25-21 win in the Gold Bracket championship over Rogers on Saturday.
“We started off a little bit slow this morning, but I don’t think you want to start off hot,” Carl Junction coach Cheryl Sharples said. “You kind of want to build on your day and that is what we did. We continued to get better and by the end of the day, we were playing our best volleyball we could have played today. I don’t think it’s our best volleyball, but the best we could play today.”
History was also made on Saturday, as Carl Junction senior Jessa Hylton etched her name in the record books during CJ’s 25-10, 25-16 win over Neosho in pool play. Hylton had three aces against Hollister in the opening pool play match to tie the Bulldog career record of 135 held by Katelyn Joyner (2008-10). Hylton added an ace in service against the Wildcats to stand alone in the record books. She finished with 12 total aces throughout the tournament and currently sits at 144.
“It is really awesome,” Hylton said about having her name in the CJ record books. “I just feel like my teammates push me every time I serve. I always hear them support me, pushing me to get better. I feel like they’re the ones who allowed me to set this record. I am thankful for that.”
“Jess has always been a great server,” Sharples said. “She is very effective and when she goes after it, it is a hard ball to pass. I am really excited for her to get that record.”
This was the second straight season the Bulldogs won the CJ Classic. Even more impressive, the Bulldogs didn’t lose a single set in the six matches they won on Saturday.
“I think we have an opportunity to do some really great things this year,” Sharples said of her team. “If we stay healthy and everybody is playing at the level they can play, I think we can compete with anybody.”
“This is our first time going back-to-back, so I am hoping they continue it next year,” Hylton said. “This is a big deal for us and I am very proud of our team. If we can keep continuing to get better, we are going to keep progressing towards big things in the future.”
QUEENS OF THE COURT
Carl Junction advanced to the championship of the Gold Bracket after starting the day with pool play wins over Hollister (25-14, 25-10), Neosho and Pittsburg (25-7, 25-16) before earning a 25-20, 25-12 win over Heritage in the quarterfinals and a 25-19, 25-12 win over Springfield Central in the semifinals.
The Bulldogs played neck and neck with the Mountaineers in the first game of the championship before a three-point service run from Destiny Buerge gave CJ a 13-8 advantage. Hylton added a kill moments later that was followed by an ace from Kylie Scott to push the lead to 16-8.
The lead improved to 18-10 on a kill from Maggie Brown before Carl Junction used a four-point service run by Hylton that included two aces to build a 24-14 lead. Logan Jones finished off the first game with a kill.
Rogers jumped out in front 6-1 to start the second set before Carl Junction cut the lead to 8-7 on two aces from Hylton and a kill from Buerge. The Bulldogs took their first lead of the second set, 11-10, on an ace from Ellie Lawson.
With the Mountaineers up 17-16, a kill from Buerge, Hylton and Buerge again gave Carl Junction a 19-17 lead they’d never relinquish. Hylton added two more kills in the waning stages, while Scott, Jones and Karissa Chase also added kills on the way to the Bulldogs clinching the title game.
“That was key,” Sharples said about the Bulldogs ability to win the championship in two games. “We need to take control of matches and make sure we don’t get ourselves in situations we don’t want to be in.”
Hylton finished the CJ Classic with 44 kills, 12 aces, 12 digs and five blocks, while Jones added 120 assists, 12 aces, 22 kills, 14 digs and three blocks. Buerge had 47 digs and 25 kills, with Scott adding 21 kills and eight blocks. Olivia Vediz had 45 digs in the libero spot.
TIGERS FALL IN THE GOLD SEMIFINALS
Carthage clinched a berth to the Gold Bracket after earning wins over Nevada (25-16, 25-16) and McDonald County (25-6, 25-12) and splitting with Central (25-13, 14-25) in pool play. Taking on Webb City to open bracket play, Carthage earned a straight-set win (26-24, 25-22) to advance to the semifinals against Rogers, where the Tigers fell in three sets to the Mountaineers 17-25, 25-13 and 22-21.
“I thought that we played great,” Carthage coach Bradyn Webb said. “I thought that we competed every single game, and that is really what I ask of them—give 100 percent because you don’t want to finish a game and regret how you played.”
“I think that was a big confidence booster for us,” Webb added about the Tigers’ win over Webb City. “We do need to win a big game in order to get better, and that was a big game for us. Our girls were fired up about it, and we had the mindset of going in that it was not an option to lose. We played like that and it paid off for us.”
Sydnee Dudolski led Carthage with 45 kills, 11 aces and 26 digs to go along with three blocks in the tournament. Mia Camarillo added 31 kills, two digs and two sets, while Sophie Shannon had 20 kills and six blocks. Raven Probert finished with 141 assists and 22 digs and eight aces, with Olivia Bourgault added 41 digs and seven assists at the libero spot.
WEBB CITY AND JOPLIN FALL IN QUARTERFINALS
After qualifying for the Gold Bracket, Webb City and Joplin both fell in the tournament quarterfinals.
Webb City earned wins over Aurora (25-23, 25-13), Carl Junction Black (25-17, 25-15) and Heritage (25-19, 25-15) in pool play before squaring off against Carthage in the opening round of bracket play. The Tigers walked away with a win in two sets to end the Cardinals’ tournament appearance.
“We played well a lot of times in the morning,” Webb City coach Rhonda Lawrence said. “It took us a while to get started, but then we got going in pool play. We just went out (against Carthage) and tried to play with them. When you play not to lose, you’re going to lose. They know that, but we didn’t have the energy. That is on us and this is something we will have to work on.”
Kate Brownfield led Webb City with 31 kills, 16 digs, five aces and a block, while Kenzie Storm added 26 kills, 20 digs and five blocks. Kyah Sanborn had 75 assists and 20 digs, with five aces. Sophia Crane had 40 digs.
“I thought Kate Brownfield made a lot of plays consistently,” Lawrence said. “Defensively and offensively, she was our most go-to player. … She had to step up, and her serve receive looked better than it normally does. She is carving her own little path.”
Joplin finished pool play with a win over Hillcrest (25-17, 25-19) before splitting with Rogers (23-25, 25-11) and West Plains (25-23, 14-25). The Eagles matched up against Central in the quarterfinals, with the Bulldogs earning a 25-19, 25-13 victory.
“We are growing a little bit every time we play,” Joplin coach Desiree Felker said. “Central is a good team and they do some things very well. I wish things could have gone the other way, but we played hard. We are slowly putting things together. I keep challenging them every day to get better, and I think we are.”
Allie Lawrence led Joplin with 20 kills, 19 digs and a block, while Abby Edwards and Angelina Schramm each added 15 kills. Edwards finished with 19 digs, while Schramm closed with 10 aces, two blocks and 17 digs. Bailey Owens added 12 kills and five blocks. Paisley Parker had 54 digs to Joplin. Abby Hembree had 36 assists and nine digs, with Kaya Cooper adding 28 assists and 12 digs.
NEOSHO TAKES SECOND IN BRONZE BRACKET; MCDONALD COUNTY FALLS IN SEMIFINALS
Neosho split with Pittsburg (25-19, 24-26) and Hollister (20-25, 25-16) and lost to Carl Junction 25-10, 25-16) and played in the Bronze Bracket. The Wildcats opened with a 25-18, 18-25 and 25-21 win over McDonald County in the quarterfinals before falling to Aurora in the Bronze finals 25-18, 24-26 and 25-17.
The Mustangs lost to Central (25-12, 25-16) and Carthage (25-6, 25-12) before earning a 25-9, 27-26 win over Nevada in pool play
MVP; Jessa Hylton, Carl Junction
Logan Jones, Carl Junction
Destiny Buerge, Carl Junction
Kylie Scott, Carl Junction
Ryley Martin, Rogers
Madison Rhea, Rogers
Sydnee Dudolski, Carthage
Olivia Bourgault, Carthage
Coco Buschhorn, Central
Mili Sylvester, Central
Angelina Schramm, Joplin
Emily Young, Hollister
Malia Fossee, Heritage
Ashton Judd, West Plains
Faith McGowin, Pittsburg