(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- The old Lady Bulldogs may have crumbled in their second set.
After battling a surging Bell City to a 30-28 final in the second, Sikeston accomplished what an earlier season version of them might not have been able to do -- finish.
"They do feel a little more comfortable now, in that 'we can still get a run on and we can still get the ball to terminate it'," Sikeston coach Steve Beydler said about comparing their improvement throughout the season. "
"Coming back from deficits in both sets, I'm pretty pleased with the way they're playing right now."
Sikeston defeated the Lady Cubs in straight sets, 25-19 and 30-28, at the Sikeston Field House on Monday giving them a leg up on a goal they set to start the week.
"Our goal was to sweep the week," Beydler said. "We've got a tough one against Advance coming up and we had to do well to start the sweep. We're hoping to finish this week well and go strong into districts."
The Lady Bulldogs found themselves having to scratch back from early deficits in both sets. Bell City took an early 8-2 lead on Sikeston to start the second, but after a timeout by Beydler, the Lady Bulldogs caught up.
They came back to tie the game at 13-13 and, soon after, take a 1-point lead after Trenice Greer blocked a Lady Cub hit that fell back across the net.
"At the point when I called that timeout, we weren't making the terminations," Beydler said. "We were playing with them back and forth and all of a sudden the ball would drop in and they would score."
Although both teams didn't give an inch afterwards, Sikeston eventually took a 24-22 lead needing just one point to put the Lady Cubs away.
Bell City standout Jasmine Johnson, however, had something to say about that.
Johnson continually put the Lady Cubs on her back. Whenever a point was needed, the athletic power-hitter got it.
"She's impressive," Beydler said. "But, we kind of held her for the most part. She got her kills but wasn't as effective as she has been. She's too good to hold down but we did our part with her."
Johnson pulled Bell City to within one, 24-23, while Talana Woodson tied the game at 24-24.
Needing to win by two points, Bell City took the first lead at 25-24 after a net call against Sikeston. The Lady Bulldogs tied it at 25 after a lifting call against Bell City.
Sikeston's Jalen Peet and Asia Liggins gave the Lady Bulldogs their 26th and 27th points, but Bell City answered right back tying it each time.
The final tie of the game was at 28, when Johnson added the last of her nine kills. A serve into the net by Bell City and a ball that sailed out of bounds lifted Sikeston into victory.
In the first set, Bell City set the tone with a 10-5 lead. Just like the second, Sikeston rallied towards the middle of the game and tied it at 13, thanks to three-straight kills by Peet.
Peet, who finished with five kills, singlehandedly gave Sikeston a 15-13 lead.
Liggins, who ended up with eight kills, was the most consistent of Sikeston's hitters in the match. She scored three of the Lady Bulldogs' first four points on monster slams across the net and continued to pound Bell City's defense throughout the game.
"Asia is the one right now, since she's been hitting all season, it's more comfortable for the team to see her go ahead and crush it," said Beydler. "I've also been trying to work in Trenice as much as I can as well. We've had a really good balance for the most part."
After Peet's personal run, Sikeston distanced themselves to a comfortable 23-18 lead to soon take the set, 25-19.
"We were down in both games and I told the girls, that we were down but we can come back," Beylder said. "We more than made up for the first deficit we were in so, we can do this and we had to believe we could do it.
"I was excited," Beydler added. "We were wanting this one bad and it put us in a position to start the week off well."