ORAN -- Sikeston's pursuit of a fifth-straight SEMO Conference title got off to a strong start on Tuesday as the Lady Bulldogs dominated the pool play portion of the tournament.
Paired up against each of their conference foes in two-set matches, the Lady Bulldogs went a resounding 6-0 to secure the top-seed in Thursday's championship bracket.
"Nobody was a walk tonight," Sikeston head coach Steve Beydler said of the competition. "Everybody seems like they always want to play Sikeston really hard. I watch them play other teams and I'm think that's not the same team I'm seeing plays us sometimes.
"But we're right we're we want to be with the No. 1 seed, so we'll play fourth-seed Charleston and hopefully do what we need to do, then come out and play in the championship again."
Having already swept sets against host Oran and New Madrid County Central, the Lady Bulldogs entered their final set of the night needing to win only of two games against Charleston to seal the top seed.
After a slow start where they pulled out a slim 8-7 lead, Sikeston kicked it into high gear when back-to-back kills from Trenice Greer and an ace from Esther Chinwuko fueled a 7-2 run.
Already with a 17-10 lead, Sikeston saw the Lady Bluejays rally to close to within four points before a final 6-3 drive by the Lady Bulldogs left them at set-point at 24-16.
Charleston was able to grab one last point before a kill from Greer locked up the set and the first-seed in the tournament with a 25-17 final.
With everything already wrapped up, the Lady Bulldogs experienced a letdown early in the second game as the Lady Bluejays took the first four points on their way to a 10-2 start.
Before things could any further out of hand, however, Sikeston scored six of the next seven points to close to within two-points and force a Charleston timeout.
A kill from Chinwuko started a run after the break where the Lady Bulldogs took 12 of the next 13 points to jump ahead 20-12
One final four-point rally by the Lady Bluejays closed their deficit to 20-16, but Sikeston soon went on one final push to close out an undefeated day with a 25-17 win.
"They started catching us standing around a little bit," Beydler said of the final set. "I told the girls we have to start having a 'this point' mentality.
"We have to quit thinking about what happened and what may be coming up later. Right now, it's about this point so that's when we kind of got refocused and got back into our game."
The two wins capped a dominant performance by the Lady Bulldogs, having opened pool play taking both sets against Oran 25-19, 25-21 before coming back and sweeping NMCC as well, 25-15, 25-17.
Though they didn't have any success against Sikeston, NMCC went 4-0 through the rest of the pool to lock up the second seed in the tournament.
NMCC started out with a pair of wins over Charleston, 25-18, 25-11 and entered the final match of the night against Oran with second place on the line.
Following a slow start to the first set where they held a 6-5 advantage, NMCC quickly started to pull away to a 17-8 lead.
Oran was able to close to within seven points late, but were never able to threaten what turned into a 25-17 NMCC win.
Much like the first set, both squads played it close early as they drew to an 8-8 tie before a run by NMCC pushed them ahead 17-11. Oran was able to pull off a near comeback as a 7-3 run had them only two points down at 20-18.
Before they could be overtaken, however, NMCC went on to score four-straight points and close out the night with a 25-20 win.
"The second-seed isn't bad," NMCC head coach Brad Kolwyck said. "We came out the first two games of the night a little sluggish based on our taking a few days off over fall break. Then we came out in the third game against Oran and decided we wanted to play.
"The third game was our type of volleyball."
Having been swept by NMCC, Oran is left with the third-seed in the tournament thanks to a pair of wins over Charleston 25-10, 25-18, that left them 2-4 in pool play.
Finishing at 0-6, Charleston will be seeded fourth.
After taking today off, tournament action will pick back up at Oran High School on Thursday with both semifinal matchups and the championship game being played in one night.
Sikeston will open play against Charleston at 4 p.m. while NMCC will face Oran soon after at 5:30 p.m.
The winner of the semifinal contests meet at 7 p.m. in the championship match.