Rock Bridge’s quick offense made the Fort Zumwalt West Jaguars look anything but catlike.
The Bruins beat the Jaguars 23-25, 25-21, 25-15 Tuesday night at Hickman. The Bruins advance to the semifinals of the Class 4 District 8 tournament, where they will face Hickman at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Zumwalt West was often out of position when trying defend junior Amanda Hanson’s hard hits off of sophomore Lindsey McDaniel’s quick sets.
“We’re always working on the quick sets,” Hanson said. “We try to hit the 10-foot line. It usually works in practice but tonight it worked in the game.”
Hanson led the Bruins with 11 kills and McDaniel had a team-high 27 assists.
The Bruins’ ability to double block was also key. Clutching to an 8-7 lead in the third game, Hanson and senior Ashley Stanfill forced Zumwalt West to hit around their blocks, and the Jaguars did so with no success, hitting the ball wide of the left sideline.
Another critical element to the victory was that Rock Bridge stayed focused despite facing challenges throughout the first and second games. In matches earlier this season, the Bruins had blown first-game leads to Booneville and Jefferson City and were not able to regain composure in the second game. Tuesday was different.
The Bruins led 23-22 in the opener before the Jaguars scored on three straight plays to win the game. Senior captain Marissa Jeffrey, who led the team with 13 digs, said the team had a sense of urgency that kept them focused.
“I said before the game that it was do-or-die time, and we didn’t want to die,” she said.
Junior Lauren Jacobs said the team was able to remain positive despite the frustration of a close loss.
“There is a difference between losing and getting beaten,” she said. “We lost but we didn’t get beat, so we knew we were going to win the other two games.”
Coach Beth Newton said the victory is a confidence builder and may translate well to the rematch with Hickman.
“Our goal at the beginning of the year was to peak at districts,” she said. “Maybe it’s starting to come together because everybody contributed tonight.”