The front row tandem of Anna Swearengen and Maddy Peeples propelled Webb City to a 25-18, 25-16 victory over Joplin on Tuesday night in Central Ozark Conference volleyball action inside the Cardinal Dome.
A pair of 5-foot-9 outside hitters, Swearengen and Peeples provided a strong net presence for the Cardinals. Both players slammed eight kills to lead the Cardinals.
"Anna and Maddy are our go-to players," Webb City coach Rhonda Lawrence said. "Both of them are dominant players. It's nice to have a right hand and a left hand because it can throw the blocking off and throw the defense off. Those two can make or break a whole game. The more comfortable our setters get, the more we'll be able to mix it up."
A senior, Swearengen also contributed four digs, while Peeples, a left-handed junior, chipped in three digs and two aces.
Webb City committed few serve-receive errors and passed well, putting the team's big hitters in good spots.
"Anna and Maddy did a great job," Joplin coach Staci Saunders said. "Hand it to Webb City. Their outside hitters are very hard to stop. And Webb City executed well on their serve and we did not."
Joplin senior setter Mari Katheryn Saunders dished out 14 assists, while senior defensive specialist Jeanie Juneweeranong had seven digs for the Eagles (7-2). Junior middle hitter Anna Neuendorf led Joplin's attack with six kills, while sophomore Angelina Schramm had seven service points.
"I thought there were times we were pretty scrappy on defense," Saunders said. "Our girls never gave up and fought until the end. I thought Anna and Addison played well at the net, and Jeanie and Mari played well defensively. But we have to clean up errors and we have to be able to handle pressure."
In the first set, kills from Swearengen and Peeples gave the hosts an early advantage before a few costly attack errors on the visitors allowed the Cardinals to pull ahead at 15-9.
Moments later, Talyn Smith's ace pushed Webb City's lead to 18-11. Joplin stayed within striking
distance, as Schramm served an ace and Addison Saunders contributed a kill, cutting Webb City's lead to 19-16.
But late kills from both Swearengen and Peeples allowed the Cardinals to finish off the set on a 6-2 run. The second set was tied at 10 when Webb City's Crane served an ace before Peeples hammered home a kill.
Up 12-10, Webb City grabbed the momentum for good, as the Cardinals rattled off 10 of the next 14 points to take a comfortable 22-14 lead.
Two late kills from Swearengen ended the night.
"It was a fun game because a lot of the girls know each from club ball," Lawrence said. "A lot of these girls have known each other for a long time, so it's always fun. It was good competition tonight and its' a good win for us. Joplin gave us a run for our money and we saw some things we need to work on."
"We have a lot of experience back, but some of other girls are now getting their turn to shine," Lawrence said. "Some of them were in the background last year and now they're in the spotlight. We're off to a good start, but we know our conference is the best one in Missouri and that we've got our work cut out for us. I'm anxious to see if we step up to the challenge on Thursday and Saturday."
Both teams hit the road on Thursday, as Joplin is at Branson and Webb City is at Ozark.
Both teams will also compete in Saturday's Carl Junction Classic.