Lady Jays ease past Hickman

Lady Jay Abby McKnelly gets the ball back across the net despite a block attempt by Hickman during Thursday's match at Fleming Fieldhouse.

Lady Jay Abby McKnelly gets the ball back across the net despite a block attempt by Hickman during Thursday's match at Fleming Fieldhouse. Photo by Julie Smith.

In a carbon-copy performance Thursday night, the Jefferson City Lady Jays were able to dispatch the Hickman Kewpies in volleyball action at Fleming Fieldhouse.

The Lady Jays jumped out to quick leads in both games the teams played, then weathered a hiccup in the middle, then pulled away late to claim a 25-13, 25-12 win.

While she was glad her team was able to right the ship in both games, Jefferson City coach Chris Meyer said she wished the Lady Jays could have avoided the lapse in the middle of both.

“We waffled in the middle of the games and that’s part of our development, that mental and physical toughness,” she said. “Especially when we’re kind of getting into the grind of the season.”

The Lady Jays, who improved to 5-5-1 with the win, raced out to a 7-1 lead in the first game. At that point, the Kewpies were doing a better job of passing to Jefferson City hitters than the Lady Jays’ own setters. Three overpasses by the Kewpies led to kills by Makenzy Kliethermes in those first eight points.

But the Kewpies started to chip away at the lead, eventually tying the game at 9 and 10.

“We knew that Hickman was going to come in and they had nothing to lose against us,” Meyer said. “They were going to give us their best effort. They’re well-coached and they were going to get on the floor for some balls and we were going to see balls coming back over on our side.”

However, the Lady Jays flipped the switch soon after. A passing error by Hickman started a 5-0 run for Jefferson City that ended with an ace by Maggie Albert, a block by Madison Bond and two kills from Sloan Pleus.

After a Hickman timeout, the run eventually reached 10 straight points. A hitting error by the Kewpies, plus two kills from Bond and one kill each for Pleus and Kylie Runzi made it 20-10 to effectively end it.

Jefferson City took a 10-3 lead in the second game, but Hickman eventually whittled the Lady Jays’ advantage down to 13-11.

Meyer said the Kewpies are somewhat tough to prepare for because of their ability to make unconventional scramble plays.

“We worked (Wednesday) on some out-of-system (plays), because we knew we would probably see more non-traditional volleyball than we would in another game,” she said.

Eventually, the Lady Jays asserted their will, winning 12 of the final 13 points to close out the match. Jefferson City got three kills from Abbi McKnelly in that span and two kills apiece from three other players.

By the end of the match the Lady Jays seemed to be playing closer to the level they showed in a big win over Helias on Tuesday. Meyer said there was a bit of carryover from that match.

“We had conversations (Wednesday) in practice about how much went into Tuesday night,” she said. “Nevertheless, we need to set that aside and move on, because we need to continue to get better. (Against Hickman) we needed to come in and get better. That is the mental and physical toughness part, especially after a draining game like that on Tuesday.

“We’re working toward being that championship-level program where the girls know that day-in and day-out, they’ve got to come and get better, whether that be in a game or in practice.”

Bond and Kliethermes ended up with seven kills apiece in the match, while McKnelly had six. Albert dished out 21 assists and also picked up 11 digs.

Jefferson City returns to action Monday when it hosts Fatima. Varsity action is expected to start around 6:45 p.m.

Jefferson City also took Thursday’s JV match, rolling to a 25-4, 25-13 win.

Amy Turner had five kills for the Lady Jays (3-2), Mary Vandelicht added four digs and Jenna Massie had 14 service points.

In the freshman match, Jefferson City cruised to a 25-16, 25-9 victory.

Tatum Gaines and Maddi Stone had three kills apiece for the Lady Jays (4-1) and Cameryn Campbell had 12 service points.

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