Sikeston looked to be the superior team in the opener with a solid 25-19 win. While holding a slight advantage throughout the contest, the Lady Bulldogs went on a 6-0 run late to take a commanding 24-16 edge.
Martika Davis and Quinn Kaiser set the tone on the front row in game one with two kills each and four others chipped in with one apiece. Kelsey Lawrence and Khassie Patterson triggered the service game with five and four points, respectively. Each had two aces.
In game two, the Bulldogs' fire and intensity appeared to wane and, at times, they looked a bit disorganized. Dexter scored eight of the final 11 points to win 25-17 and force a deciding third match.
"They can feel it, they can see it and instead of staying loose and just playing the same game that got them to that point, they start tightening up and doing things that are not very smart," said Sikeston coach Steve Beydler. In the third game, Sikeston held its own at 8-8. Then the Lady Bearcats went on a 9-1 rampage to grab a 17-9 advantage.
Dexter upped its lead to 21-13 when the Lady Bulldogs suddenly caught fire again, narrowing the gap to 23-20. A Dexter service error, a Davis dink kill and four consecutive service points from Kiarra Morris keyed a late 6-0 run to reach the 20-point mark.
But two kills by Dexter's Mallory Kennedy, a stalwart on the front row for the Lady Bearcats with 10 kills and three blocks, closed the contest at 25-20.
"They (Bulldogs) were so excited about the opportunity to finally beat Dexter, which has always been a powerhouse in Southeast Missouri, that they started to play a little tighter," said Beydler. "Our youth and inexperience showed.
"But I believe they did a pretty good job of hanging in there. Our M.O. in the past few weeks has been a tendency to play a real good team very well early, then once we let them have a little momentum, we start to fall apart and they just wipe us off the court. Tonight, that didn't happen."
Setter Rachel Beydler led the Bulldogs with 12 assists, Patterson was the dig leader with 11 and Davis the kill leader with 11and the leading blocker with four. Caitlin Underwood, Emily Taylor and Kaiser added five kills apiece.
Lawrence topped the service points with 17, including 10 aces, and also recorded eight assists. Patterson and Morris totaled three aces and Morris was the second-leading digger with eight. Beydler had six digs.
Said coach Beydler, "It was a good team effort, overall, against a very good Dexter squad."
Amanda Pixley had 24 assists in Dexter's single-set offense while Bailey Stanley had nine kills and two blocks.
Sikeston visits Scott City on Monday at 6 p.m.