(David Jenkins, Staff)
"Bernie's always a tough team, but I will say that this is the toughest Bernie team I've seen in a number of years," Sikeston coach Steve Beydler said. "They're all pretty seasoned club players. If we can continue to have some of the successes I saw in some of our rallies against a team as good as this, I think we're going to have a very successful season."
The Lady Bulldogs suffered a two-set loss, 25-22 and 25-23, to Bernie at the Sikeston Field House on Tuesday sticking with the Lady Mules throughout.
In the first set, neither team gave an inch.
The two exchanged leads eight times and never separated by more than three points.
The blocking abilities of Sikeston's front row, especially from senior Asia Liggins, posed problems for the Lady Mules.
Liggins, who finished with six blocks, had two quick block/kills to get the Lady Bulldogs going.
"My girls, especially early on, we blocked them," said Beydler. "I think it stunned them with some of the blocks we had. They looked a little bit back on their heels because I think they were expecting a much easier time."
At one point, Bernie had managed to take a 20-17 lead, but Sikeston rallied back. After a point by Darqueshionna Howard and another block by Liggins, the Lady Bulldogs tied the game at 20-20 and eventually took a 22-21 lead.
However, Bernie had a rally of their own and scored the games final four points to take the first set.
The second set had the same feeling as the first. No team budged as they continued to trade leads and tie the game on seemingly every opportunity.
Although Bernie slightly pulled away towards the middle of the game, taking an 18-13 lead, Sikeston, again, didn't go quietly.
Down 22-17, the Lady Bulldogs managed to catch up and cut Bernie's lead to 23-21 and then 24-23.
A serve that flew off the hands of a Sikeston player and into the stands ended the set and gave Bernie the win.
"We could have laid down and gave up when we got down by five there, but we didn't," Beydler said. "We've been working hard and they really want to have a good season. When you're right there with them, against a team that I firmly believe played a lot tighter than we did, there's no telling what could happen this season."
Liggins and Howard shared the lead in kills for Sikeston while Trenice Greer added 11 assists and three aces. Jalen Peet contributed three kills and was 5 of 7 on her serves. Liggins went a perfect 8 for 8 on her serves.
Sikeston's next game will be Sept. 7 at Saxony Lutheran High School.