Kill by Kirra Long in the district final Saturday against Carl Junction at McDonald County.

District champ Cardinals head to Jefferson City Friday for quarterfinal

Bob Foos

Jaeli Rutledge

Just like that, the Webb City Cardinals are district champs for the third year in a row and are hoping to be back at the state volleyball tournament for the second year in a row next week.

First, they have to defeat the Jefferson City Lady Jays. Their quarterfinal game will be at 1 p.m. Saturday at Fleming Field House, 609 Union St., Jefferson City.

The Cardinals and Lady Jays have similar records (Webb City 27-6, Jefferson City 23-9) and are the same against like opponents.

The winner will advance to the Class 4 semifinals at noon Thursday in the Show Me Center in Cape Girardeau.

In the district final Saturday, the Cardinals were closing the gap as they lost the first match 25-23 to Carl Junction and went on win the next three sets 25-23, 25-17, 25-14).

The site for the final was moved from Branson to McDonald County so it would be a closer drive for fans of both teams.

Although Carl Junction (25-9-2) was the top seed on the District 6 bracket, coach Rhonda Lawrence pointed out that her Cardinals had played the Bulldogs close in their 3-1 regular-season loss.

Her team wasn’t so confident after it took five matches to defeat Branson in the semifinals. After that “fight to the death,” she said it was time to “re-evaluate and start trusting and believing in each other.

Savannah Crane

“We needed to take a break and love volleyball again. Playing for each other for us all to be successful. That’s the recipe for success.”

Playing a larger role is freshman Jaylee Van Beceleare, in particular because of her serves. “We’ve worked on getting her successful,” said Lawrence. “In scrimmages, they (other players) hate when she serves to them.”

Van Becleare and junior Mia Lenker both rode scoring runs with their serves, including three aces apiece. Senior Aubree Lassiter also served three aces.

Lawrence also said sophomore Jaeli Rutledge “has played the best she has in a few weeks.”

Lassiter and Rutledge led the attack with 17 and 18 kills, respectively. Sophomore Savannah Crane logged 38 sets, and senior Sophia Crane had 19 digs.

Sophia Crane

Aubree Lassiter

Jaylee Van Beceleare

It’s obvious to their fans that the Cardinals are going to win their third match and the district championship.

Seniors Makayla Mayes, Aubree Lassiter and Sophia Crane accept the championship trophy.