(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
SIKESTON -- Capping a strong finish to the regular season, the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs celebrated senior night on Thursday by rolling past New Madrid County Central in straight sets 25-6, 25-22.
"The first game we came out really on fire," Sikeston head coach Steve Beydler said of his girls. "I felt like they had something they wanted to prove. They won the (SEMO Conference Tournament) and they wanted to win the (SEMO) conference out right.
"That was the goal and it ended up exactly like they wanted it to."
Having won 10 of their last 12 games coming into Thursday's contest, the Lady Bulldogs (18-15) opened things up with a quick 7-1 run that forced the Lady Eagles (10-17-2) to call an early timeout.
Coming out of the break, Sikeston got an ace from Quesha Howard on their way to pulling ahead 14-3. Soon after a 10-point run by the Lady Bulldogs set up game-point at 24-5 on a Hannah Haynes ace.
After an errant Sikeston volley gave NMCC its last point of the set, Howard tipped the ball over the net for the set-sealing point.
Coming off a dominant first set, the Lady Bulldogs struggled to shake loose from the Lady Eagles in the second. Fighting to a 7-7 tie to start the game, Sikeston managed to put together its biggest run of the game in scoring seven-straight points to go ahead 14-7.
Still holding that seven-point lead at 20-13, the Lady Bulldogs watch NMCC slowly creep back into the game until a five-point run closed the Lady Eagles to within one at 23-22.
Forced to call a timeout, Sikeston came back out and set up match point before Asia Liggins closed out the win by tipping the ball across the net.
"I think the second game we kind of quit playing (as hard) because we thought it was going to be that easy," Liggins said. "But we have to come out and play no matter what. We can't just give up.
"If we had went to three I would have been pretty upset because it shouldn't happen. We should have never let them get that close to us."
Echoing Liggins thoughts, Beydler said, "The second set I don't know if they got a little complacent, I don't know what it was, but they just weren't as aggressive or a little more laid back.
"Then they just started making some errors. New Madrid would push the ball back at them and they would kind of not continue what they would do in the first set which was be aggressive."
It was during that final timeout that Beydler said the girls got focused and determined to finish off the win.
For NMCC head coach Brad Kolwyck, he was proud to see his girls respond after a less than stellar first set.
"We didn't give up," he said. "That's the bottom line. I'm proud of that. As long as we don't give up and can keep ourselves in the ball game, that's all I ask for.
"They were two totally different teams (that played those two sets). In the second set we had a little more fight in us. We had a little bit more want and they realized that they can play at that level."
With a total of 27 kills on the contest, Sikeston was led by Liggins and Jalen Peet, who had eight apiece. Close behind was Trenice Greer with six while Howard had four.
Greer led the team in assists with 13, followed by Liggins with 10. Monica Carter had a team-high 14 digs and Haynes a team-high four aces.
Before the varsity contest, Sikeston's four departing were honored near center court. They included Liggins, Howard, Peet and Keyonna Blissett.