(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- All season the strength of the Sikeston Lady Bulldog volleyball team has been their play at the net. That was never more evident than Saturday afternoon as the Lady Bulldogs won the SEMO Conference Tournament championship, dominating the smaller Oran Lady Eagles, 25-19, 25-15.
"After playing a little sloppy the first night, I'm very pleased with the girls' unity and intensity today," said Sikeston coach Steve Beydler. "With the exception of a couple moments, this team moved well and communicated much better than they had been. I'm very pleased with the way they played together and pulled this out."
Sikeston defeated New Madrid County Central in the semifinals 25-10, 25-14 to advance to the finals against Oran, two set winners over Charleston.
In the finals, the Lady Bulldogs jumped out to an early 10-4 lead and never looked back as Oran struggled with Sikeston's play at the net.
Sikeston was led in the championship match by Rachel Beydler who finished with 25 assists, six kills, four digs, three blocks and perfect 11-for-11 serving. Martika Davis added 16 kills and four digs while Jennifer Millington finished with 17 digs.
"Jennifer was in position a lot today," Beydler said.
Caitlyn Underwood finished with 13 digs, five kills and was 13-for-15 serving with three aces. Mandy Moore was 12-for-12 serving with one ace and three digs and Keyarra Blissett finished with six digs, two blocks and three kills.
"It's nice to get this (trophy) back where I like it to be," Beydler said. "We're down a little bit as far as the conference goes, with only four teams, but nonetheless we had to play it out to win it. I like to carry this momentum throughout the rest of the season."
Sikeston will take on state-ranked Bell City tonight at the Sikeston Field House.
"They are coming in here with us as the underdog and I would like to see the girls play with this kind of intensity just to see what they can do against a really good state-ranked team," Beydler said.
Notes -- The SEMO All-Conference All-Tournament Team was also named Saturday. Rachel Beydler and Martika Davis from Sikeston were unanimous selections as were Cassie Graviett (Oran), Faye Parker (Charleston) and Shameka Williams (NMCC). Other all-tournament team members were Caitlin Underwood (Sikeston), Jennifer Millington (Sikeston), Tiffany Johnson (Charleston), Alexus Wells (NMCC) and Beth Griffin (Oran). -- NMCC won the junior varsity championship defeating Oran 25-19, 27-25.