(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON - The SEMO Conference Volleyball Tournament kicked off Thursday night at the Sikeston Field House with entry level pool play. Four teams battled it out over a five hour span with one exciting game after another to determine their seeding for the bracket-play this weekend. Each team competed against one another in two game sets to see who gain the top spot in the tournament.
In the end, the first seed belonged to the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs, who went 4-2 in the pool tourney. The Lady Bulldogs will play the New Madrid County Central Lady Eagles (fourth seed) who went 2-4 on the night. They will have the first varsity match Saturday morning at the Sikeston Field House, beginning at 11 a.m. The Lady Eagles of Oran (second seed) will play the Lady Bluejays of Charleston (third seed) at 11:50 a.m. Both teams finished 3-3 in the pool play but the Lady Eagles took the higher seed due to point differential throughout the matches. The championship match will get underway at 12:40 p.m. with the winners of the two previous matches battling it out for supremacy.
Charleston and Sikeston got the action going as they split the two set match with the Lady Bluejays winning the first game 25-21 and dropping the second 7-25.
"The first game we came out and really played lackadaisical, just played unfocused," said Sikeston head coach Steve Beydler. "After that, our girls really started playing together and finished the first match well."
"My team is very young and lacks some experience," said NMCC head coach Diane Fowler. "We made some errors here and there but we did a lot of good things tonight."
In game four, the Lady Bulldogs retook the court acing the Oran Lady Eagles in both sets winning 25-13, 25-10. However, Oran wasted no time regrouping as the came back out in game five, sealing a two set victory over Charleston 25-20, 25-14.
The sixth and final game of the night found NMCC and Sikeston pinned against each other, which proved to be an intriguing being that these two teams will face one another in the semis Saturday mourning. The Lady Bulldogs came away with a comfortable 25-14 point win in match one of the set but found themselves on their heels as NMCC answered back in the second match with a 25-17 upset of their own.
"We enjoyed splitting games with Sikeston and Oran," said Fowler. "I feel as though they were two of the better teams based on their performance tonight.
"We're coming in with a chip on our shoulder," said Beydler. "We got the one seed so as the favorites, other teams have nothing to lose and are really gunning for us.
"I expect our ladies to come out and be ready to play. If we compete like we did in the middle of this tournament, hopefully we'll end up doing alright."
The junior varsity teams are set to kick off their SEMO Conference Volleyball Tournament at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning at the Sikeston Field House with varsity following.