Lady Jays fall to Rock Bridge in volleyball

Facing a front-line that resembled a basketball team, the Jefferson City volleyball team knew it had its work cut out for it.

Add in the fact the Lady Jays were missing three starters and it was too much to overcome.

Rock Bridge used its height to hit over the top of Jefferson City and powered its way to a 25-20, 25-22 sweep Tuesday night at Fleming Fieldhouse.

“We were focusing on defense,” Jefferson City head coach Chris Meyer said. “What we talked about in the locker room was the fact that crossing the net we had 6-foot, 6-foot, 6-foot, right, middle and left.”

Rock Bridge, which really could be a basketball team with no less than three Division I basketball recruits on the roster, made that size stick out against Jefferson City’s smaller middles.

Outside hitter Sophie Cunningham and middle hitter Audrey Holt were disruptive in the front. Cunningham, who has committed to Missouri to play basketball, led the Lady Bruins with eight kills. Midway through the first game Holt had three blocks on one exchange.

“They were hitting over our blockers, so our defenders had to adjust not as they normally would from a front line because they got hit over,” Meyer said. “Those girls on Rock Bridge are going to get good hits, they are going to get those kills. We just had to try and limit it and give ourselves another chance by getting the ball up.”

Jefferson City led much of the first game before Rock Bridge made a late charge. The Lady Jays led 18-16 after an ace by outside hitter Abbi McKnelly. But after a timeout, the Lady Bruins came out firing. They ended the game on a 9-2 run to close out the Lady Jays 25-20. That stretch included three straight Jefferson City errors.

“We just had some errors that led to some lack of mental toughness for us,” Meyer said. “We have to learn to get past those. In a sport like ours you don’t have time to think and dwell on what happened before, good or bad, because you have to go in and battle every point.”

It was a similar situation in the second game. The score was tied at 14 after a Rock Bridge error, but the Lady Bruins (1-0) proceeded to rattle off five straight points to take a 19-14 lead. Jefferson City got no closer than three the rest of the game and fell 25-22.

McKnelly and outside hitter Becca Sturgess kept Jefferson City within striking distance most of the night, as Sturgess had nine kills and McKnelly had six. Early in the second game Sturgess scored three straight Lady Jays points with kills.

Meyer, who said the Lady Jays are “dealing with some things on our team,” was pleased with how the eight players who dressed out played.

“They fought,” Meyer said. “We’re trying to get better every day. When we first came into the locker room, we asked the girls, ‘Did we get better from Friday (a 2-0 loss to St. Joseph’s Academy),’ and we did. We got better from Friday. Never happy with the outcome, but that doesn’t impact what our goals are as individuals or for our team.”

Jefferson City (0-2) returns to action Thursday at Hermann.

Jefferson City won Tuesday’s JV match 25-18, 25-23. Mary Wehmeyer had nine kills while Mary Vandelicht added eight kills. Cara Caby had six digs and Jenna Massie had 20 assists.

The Lady Jays also won the freshman match 25-7, 25-12. Arielle Guitard had 11 service points. Tatum Gaines had six kills and Katelyn Runzi added 11 assists.

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