(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
CAPE GIRARDEAU -- They put a scare into the top-seeded Farmington Knightettes, but the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs volleyball team went as far as their seeding said they would.
The fourth-seeded Lady Bulldogs advanced to the semifinals of the Class 4, District 1 tournament at Cape Central High School on Monday after defeating the host, Cape Central Lady Tigers, but fell to Farmington in straight sets to end their season.
"We pushed them," Sikeston coach Steve Beydler said. "They weren't expecting the four seed to do that. I think they were overlooking us and they were looking forward to the next round and they should be able to do that, being the top-seed.
"We had some offense that they didn't realize we had, I think. It kept us in the game."
During their semifinal against the Knightettes, Sikeston battled the top-seed point for point with a variety of hitters making an impact.
They tied the Knightettes at 8-8 but eventually felt the wrath of Farmington's middle hitter Rachel Williams, whose thunderous slams found the gym floor almost instantly.
The Knightettes rode the momentum Williams gave them to a 19-11 lead at one point. But Sikeston kept fighting.
A kill by Sikeston's Quesha Howard, a block by Trenice Greer which was directly followed by a tip-kill by Greer as well, put Sikeston right back into contention where they eventually came from within two points of tying Farmington twice.
A kill by Asia Liggins cut the Knightettes' lead to 23-21 late in the first set, but a ball that fell into the net and a tip-kill by Jaden McBride allowed Farmington to escape with a 25-21 win.
Although Sikeston gained an early 10-9 lead in the second set, Farmington seized control shortly after to go up 24-12.
"From 10-10 that's when it started," Beydler said. "It was about that point we had a few errors and the girls started getting a little tighter and started thinking, 'Uh oh. Here we go again'."
"Our M-O has been all year, the second set we have a lapse and that's what happened."
A kill and ace by Greer as well as an error by Farmington, kept the Lady Bulldogs from delaying the inevitable as a Sikeston serve that found its way out of bounds ended the match at 25-15.
Beydler pointed out that he liked the way his team finished by not quitting when the game was near decided.
"We had a good kill for a point and then two more points," said Beydler. "It didn't end the way we wanted it to, but at least the girls didn't roll over and let them end it 25-12."
In their first match of the tournament, Sikeston wasted no time in proving why they were picked over the fifth-seeded Lady Tigers winning 25-14 and 25-20
The Lady Bulldogs worked their way to an 11-2 lead, mostly because of a string of balls hit out of bounds by Cape Central.
"We watched some film on them (Sunday), so we knew how their defense was," Greer said about Cape Central. "We knew that we needed to shoot deep because they play up and push in a lot. We knew what we had to do and got it done."
The Lady Tigers mounted a small rally, cutting Sikeston's lead to 13-9, but the Lady Bulldogs continued to pour it on.
Two kills and an ace by Greer gave Sikeston a 19-12 lead to put the Lady Bulldogs ahead comfortably. A tip-kill by Greer ended the first set.
"We were ready for this game all week," said Greer. "We were pumped."
Sikeston began the second set almost the same as the first.
They jumped out to a 9-3 lead, but just like the other matches Sikeston and Cape Central have had this year, that gap narrowed.
"Our second games, we seem to make more errors," Greer said. "I don't know why. We had to step it up though and finish. It takes us a while to get going in the second game."
The Lady Bulldogs never lost their lead, but Cape Central clawed back to make it 16-15. Two kills by Jalen Peet and Liggins extended Sikeston's lead to 21-16. A kill by Howard from the outside ended the match which advanced Sikeston to the semifinals.
Liggins led Sikeston with 11 kills throughout the two matches. Greer added nine kills and four aces while Peet had six kills and Howard chipped in four kills and one ace.
Sikeston ended the year with a 19-16 record. They will say goodbye to four seniors that have been staples in the Lady Bulldogs' roster for the better part of three years -- Liggins, Howard, Peet and Keyonna Blissett.
"It's sad to see some of these seniors go because we're losing a lot of firepower," Beydler said. "We have a long offseason ahead of us to figure out how we're going to replace them or what we're going to do differently next year."