WEBB CITY, Mo. — With the postseason on the horizon, the Webb City Cardinals appear to be hitting their stride at exactly the right time.
In a solid overall performance, Webb City earned a quick 3-0 victory over Neosho on Tuesday night in a Central Ozark Conference volleyball clash inside the Cardinal Dome.
The Cardinals swept the Wildcats 25-12, 25-19, 25-16.
“We played all right and took care of business,” Webb City coach Rhonda Lawrence said. “We were trying a few fun plays that we can do, but we still have to be mentally tough enough not to play around with teams either. We were hitting good, solid balls, making good decisions and finding the holes. Neosho was scrappy and they played up a lot of balls. But that was good for us to play those long rallies. That can only help us in the long run.”
Coming off a second-place showing at the Willard tourney, and with 3-0 wins on both Monday and Tuesday, the Cardinals (17-11-2) have built some momentum with just two regular season dates remaining before the district tournament arrives on Oct. 23.
“This past weekend went really well,” Lawrence said. “We stepped up and started to play the way I think we can. I think we’re on the way up and that’s what you want right now. You want to be at your peak at the end of the season.”
Showing off their depth at the net, Webb City received kills from five different players.
Junior outside hitter Brenda Lawrence led the Cardinals with 18 kills, while senior outside hitter Kearston Galardo added 12 kills.
Sophomore Aubree Lassiter and junior Kate Brownfield contributed four kills apiece, while senior Kenzie Storm added three kills and two blocks.
Junior setter Kyah Sanborn handed out 39 assists and also recorded nine digs.
Sophomore libero Sophia Crane led Webb City with 16 digs. Other leaders in digs were Galardo (7), Lawrence (6), Brownfield (6) and Storm (5).
The Cardinals also served well in the match, as Galardo had five aces and Crane had four.
Webb City was the first team to 15 and to 20 in all three sets.
After a lopsided opening set, the Wildcats stayed within striking distance throughout the second set, as the visitors pulled within two at 19-17.
But the Cardinals had too much firepower at the net, as late kills from Lawrence and Lassiter and an ace from Crane proved key to finishing off the set.
In the third set, Webb City led 18-8 en route to the win.
Neosho coach Jessica Crow, who is in her first year in charge of the Wildcats, noted she was pleased with her team’s effort.
“We’re just working on building a culture and finding our groove as a team,” Crow said. “We’re very young this season. But that’s exciting. The younger girls are gaining a lot of experience. We’re still tweaking some things and some of the girls are in positions they’ve never played before. A lot of girls have stepped up to the plate. And right now, we’re just hoping to get past the first round of districts this year.”
As Crow noted, Neosho has a very young squad this fall. The Wildcats have just two seniors (Lexi Laney and Rylee Amato) and four juniors (Delaynie Kelly, Capri Williams, Karlee Ellick and Meredith Baldwin) on this year’s roster.
Crow previously coached in Arkansas before taking over the reins of the Neosho program. She said the transition has been a smooth one.
“It’s been great and everyone has been supportive,” Crow said.
Webb City is the No. 2 seed for the Class 4 District 12 tournament. The Cardinals meet No. 3 Nevada at 2:30 on Oct. 23 at Carl Junction.
Neosho is the fifth seed in the Class 5 District 12 tourney. The Wildcats take on fourth-seeded Raymore-Peculiar at 6 on Oct. 21 at Joplin.
Both teams return to conference action on Thursday, as Webb City hosts Republic and Neosho hosts a talented Nixa squad.