(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Leading the visiting Saxony Lutheran Lady Crusaders by two points late in the second set, the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs squandered a chance to take it to a three set match and win their first match of the season as the Lady Crusaders rallied for a two-set win, 25-18 and 25-22.
"Even late, it was just a matter of turning the corner and bringing it home. But, we weren't able to do that," Sikeston head coach Steve Beydler said. "(Saxony) was able to stick it out and consistently stayed strong in finding the holes."
With a 19-17 advantage in their corner during the game-deciding second set, Sikeston allowed three straight points as three errant hits found themselves out of bounds or into the net.
From then on, Saxony cleared up their earlier mistakes to hold on to the lead as Sikeston got as close as 22-21 before the Lady Crusaders closed the door.
"We had some blocking errors and some little things that weren't major but it was those little things that we know we can do that we picked up on," Saxony head coach Alissa Ernst said. "We're a young team, so we've got a lot to learn. For us to come back and see that want in their eyes was great for us.
"The girls just started playing smart."
The first set belonged to Saxony throughout. Besides a 2-2 and 4-4 tie, the Lady Crusaders led the entire way as neither team found a true rhythm.
With the score 15-11, an intense point hung in the balance as neither team wanted to give an inch. Sikeston had scored three straight to make it the four-point game which could have meant an even bigger momentum swing towards the home team had they pulled out that point. On Sikeston's third return, their shot hit the side of the net giving Saxony a 16-11 lead and the momentum to come away the first set winners, 25-18.
"(Saxony) quit swinging them because we were blocking them early in the match," said Beydler. "That's one of our strengths is that we're a decent blocking team and they then started tipping. We didn't really pick up on the fact that they continued to tip. They found some holes and there were too many rallies where they ended up with a point."
Saxony (3-1) was lead in kills by Natalie Mueller who had five of them and eight digs to add to it. Courtney Bergman added three kills, three blocks and three aces while Jordan Hoff had 10 digs.
With Sikeston (0-2) playing in their first home game of the young season, a small case of the home court jitters may have come into play, according to Beydler.
"They were really playing tight," he said. "I was trying to calm them down. When I start to see tips that go into the top of the net or when I see a swing that goes straight out to the wall, I know they're playing tight.
"You can't blame it on anyone but ourselves."
Asia Liggins led the Lady Bulldogs with six kills. Trenice Greer added four kills and six assists. Greer was also 11-for-12 during her serves and added an ace. Sam Anderson chipped in with seven assists as well.
"We just have to get to the point with everyone getting on board," said Beydler. "It has to be do or die every rally. We have too many slips here and there."
The Sikeston junior varsity volleyball squad received their first win of the season defeating Saxony in two sets; 25-16 and 25-22.