Just when it looked like a Grain Valley rally was going to claim a second-set victory and send its non-conference volleyball match at Blue Springs South to a third game, senior Danielle Moje took over.
The Eagles led 21-17 when Moje led a furious comeback that led to a 25-23 victory and a two-set win for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars won the first game 25-15, but watched the Eagles stand tall in the second set.
“Keri does such a good job with those girls,” first-year Jaguars coach Mallori Perry said after her team improved to 7-1. “You want to be playing your best volleyball in late September, October and November, so I was happy to see the girls get challenged tonight.
“We had the momentum pretty much the entire first set, then Grain Valley made us fight back to win the second set, and we were able to do it. Danielle did an outstanding job on the front line, but it was a total team effort.”
Moje agreed with her coach.
“It was a great team effort,” Moje said. “We really worked hard in the second game to get a win. I got some points at the end, but it was a complete team effort.”
When Moje wasn’t scoring big points, Grain Valley’s Karly Tharp and Gracie LaForge were battling reigning Examiner Player of the Year Hannah LaPour at the net.
“That was fun,” said LaForge, who had three kills, two blocks and an ace. “It was fun playing against Hannah. Matches like this are so important for a school our size. We’re moving up to the Suburban (Small Seven), and tonight we proved we can compete against a big school like Blue Springs South.
“I thought we really played well in the second set. I wish we could have won because I’d have liked to have seen what would have happened in a third set.”
Tharp, who led the Eagles with four kills and 10 digs, agreed.
“We really played a lot better in the second set and it was exciting to have all the action at the net,” Tharp said. “This was such a positive experience for both teams. They won late in the second set and we proved we can play with them, which really shows we should be able to compete against the Suburban Conference schools we’ll be playing.”
Peterson believes her team learned a lot in the close second-set loss.
“The effort was there all night,” Peterson said after her team fell to 1-1. “We just played better in the second set. I think you have to give our girls credit for really making South earn the win.
“They pretty much had the momentum the entire first set and we took over the momentum in the second set and came close to winning.”
LaPour, who led the Jaguars with eight kills, believes her team and new head coach have already bonded.
“We’re just out playing, winning and having fun,” LaPour said. “Coach Perry has done a great job of bringing us all together as a team, and it shows (with our 7-1 record).”