Trailing by as many as 13 points midway through the first set loss, the Lady Bulldogs were able to seize momentum to take the second game and go up early in the third.
Unable to stop a Lady Hornet rally midway through the third game, however, Sikeston
saw Advance come back to take the match, 25-17, 20-25 and 25-21.
"We faltered a little bit late," Lady Bulldogs' head coach Steve Beydler said. "I don't know if it was just nerves knowing that we're almost there, but when I look at the final score, we were down and could have been out.
"They fought back and even when Advance had 24 (in the final set) the girls didn't give up."
Struggling to get much going early in the match's first set, Sikeston (15-15-1) was unable to stop a dominant opening run by the Lady Hornets (24-4-1) and were forced to burn the final timeout of the set at 16-3.
Not long after the Lady Bulldogs seemed to find their footing and reeled off six-straight points at one time as they closed back to within four at 21-17.
Before they could finish off the comeback, Advance ended the game scoring four consecutive points to win 25-17.
"I feel like we were really nervous for no reason," Sikeston senior Trenice Greer said of her team's slow start. It was good to see the momentum shift over. Coach (Beydler) had told us that we needed to shift the momentum and to get a rally or point so we did what we had to do."
Riding the momentum gained in the first set, Sikeston was able to come out in the second game and pull out an early 9-5 edge. Advance came back to close its deficit to one, but a 10-5 run by the Lady Bulldogs allowed them to push ahead 20-13.
One final 6-2 rally by the Lady Hornets closed the gap to three points again, but Sikeston was able to set up game point on a bad Advance volley before an unreturned serve from Monica Carter sealed the set.
"In the second set, I hate to say it, but my girls got rattled by the crowd," Advance head coach Dana Below said. "This gym is hard to play in. We know every time we come to Sikeston we're playing against the gym as well, because it's just amazing in here."
In the final set, the Lady Bulldogs looked like they might send their seniors out with a come-from-behind win as they opened with a 9-3 run and stayed ahead by six points at 13-7.
Not long after, the Lady Hornets were able to take advantage of a few Sikeston errors and seize the lead on a 10-1 rally that eventually had them up 17-14.
The two teams battled nearly point-for-point the rest of the way until back-to-back kills from Haley Kennison and Grayson Miles set up match-point for Advance.
After two straight points by the Lady Bulldogs, Advance closed out the match on a Kennison kill from the backcourt.
"That's a tough one to lose," Beydler said. "Coming into tonight, Advance had only lost four matches all year. I've seen them play a couple times. I went and watched them Friday night against Bernie.
"I kind of devised a game plan that I thought could possibly be effective and for the most part it really was. We didn't execute as much in the last four or five minutes of the match, but we really kept them off balance quite a bit."
Leading Sikeston's front court attack was Esther Chinwuko with eight kills on the contest. Close behind was Greer with seven kills while Victoria Knight and Sedera Williams added five and three kills respectively. Williams also had two blocks.
Behind the line, Lauren Beydler, Carter, Ricci Tidwell and Kalli Williams each had two aces.
"I feel like it was one of our better games," Greer said. "We definitely wanted it, we just came up short and made a few mistakes we shouldn't have. I'm really proud of the team and we actually played pretty good."
For the Lady Hornets, Kennison had a team-high eight kills, followed by Aimie Simmers with four. Allie Below led the team with 15 assists and Jacqueline Maddox had 12 digs.
Before the night's varsity match, the Lady Bulldogs took time to honor their two seniors, Greer and Carter, with roses and a video presentation as they prepared to take the court for their final home game of the year.
"The girls were really wanting to do it for Trenice and Monica," Beydler said of his team's comeback attempt. "To send them out of here with that kind of outing. It's a loss, but the positives we can carry on to the remaining part of the season."
Sikeston will wrap up the regular season on Thursday when they play New Madrid Country Central with action starting at 6 p.m.