Faced with a pair of early deficits in the prep volleyball opener of the 2019 season, Jeanie Juneweeranong and the Joplin Eagles simply refused to lose.
The host Eagles came from behind in both sets to knock off the Parkview Vikings 2-0 (25-18, 25-17) on Tuesday night in a nonconference clash inside Kaminsky Gymnasium.
“It was the first game of the season, so I think we were a little nervous at the start,” Juneweeranong said. “But we finally got in a rhythm. And we just brought our play up.”
The Vikings have a solid core back, including a pair of all-Ozark Conference performers, from last year’s squad that won 20 matches.
With that in mind, Eagles coach Staci Saunders called Tuesday’s victory a great way to begin the fall season.
“I’m very, very pleased with our girls,” Saunders said. “Parkview’s a good team. They can flat out hit. I thought our defense did a great job, and our hitters played fantastic. And we executed our serves. Everyone did their job.”
A senior libero who does a little bit everything on the court, Juneweeranong contributed 11 service points and seven digs.
“I thought Jeanie played really great defense,” Saunders said. “Jeanie does such a great job of running the floor, and she finds a way. She’s just a winner.”
Senior setter Mari Katheryn Saunders also played a key role in the win as she handed out 19 assists to go with five digs.
“Mari did a great job of delivering the ball to our hitters,” Coach Saunders said.
Joplin had a balanced attack at the net, as junior outside hitter Aubrey Ritter and junior middle hitter Anna Neuendorf contributed six kills apiece to lead the way, while sophomore middle hitter Kacy Coss added three kills and junior outside hitter Addison Saunders had two.
In the first set, Parkview led 15-12 after a pair of aces from Madison Hogan. But that’s when the momentum suddenly shifted to the hosts.
Sparked by a couple of kills at the net by Neuendorf, solid blocking and defense, and Juneweeranong’s jump serve, which produced a pair of aces, Joplin finished the opening set on a convincing 13-3 run to earn the comeback win.
“When they got on a roll, we did a good job of stopping it,” Coach Saunders said. “We stuck with it. And part of that is senior leadership. Jeanie and Mari knew they had to get the job done.”
In the second set, Parkview once again took an early lead, only to see the Eagles rally.
Addison Saunders served a pair of aces, Coss and Cassie Sharkey hammered home kills at the net, and Joplin pulled away for a 17-10 lead.
An ace from Mari Katheryn Saunders and kills from Ritter helped finish off the match in straight sets.
“We worked really well together as a team tonight,” Juneweeranong said. “We had a couple of rough patches, but we came out and played confident as a team.”
Joplin (1-0) travels to Cassville (0-1) on Thursday night for a nonconference clash.