Sikeston's season comes to a close against Poplar Bluff in districts

Monday, October 20, 2014
Sikeston freshman Olivia Nash sends a ball over the net as Poplar Bluff senior Halle Huffman defends Monday during the opening round of the Class 4, District 1 Tournament at the Sikeston Field House. (Brent Shipman, photo)

SIKESTON -- Despite a strong rally late in the second set, the Sikeston Lady Bulldogs saw their season come to a close with a 25-11, 25-21 loss to Poplar Bluff in the opening round of the Class 4, District 1 tournament Monday.

Sikeston senior Lauren Beydler sets up a kill attempt against Poplar Bluff as sophomore Larysa McClellon (right) comes in on the play Monday during the opening round of the Class 4, District 1 Tournament at the Sikeston Field House. (Brent Shipman, photo)

"We knew this was going to be a tall order because we are playing a higher seed, but we had nothing to lose," Sikeston head coach Steve Beydler said. "Being the underdog no one expects you to do anything. The girls were coming off the (SEMO Conference) tournament and played well there. We really wanted to at least push Polar Bluff and see what we could do to make some things happen."

The third-seeded Lady Mules wasted little time in taking control of the first set, opening on a 6-2 run that put the sixth-seeded Lady Bulldogs in a hole they couldn't climb out of.

A quick 3-1 rally put Sikeston back within two points early, 7-5, but Poplar Bluff started to pull away soon after. Leading 12-8, the Lady Mules took nine of the next 10 points to extend their lead to 12 points at 21-9.

Back-to-back kills by Poplar Bluff's Halle Huffman and Megan Knuckles were followed by a block from Lauren Rowland to set up game-point. A missed Lady Bulldogs serve two points later closed out the 25-11 set win for Poplar Bluff.

"We had a gameplan which we didn't follow at all the first set," Beydler said. "We had too many errors serving the first set. We hit six balls out just on the attack. Poplar Bluff just played good steady ball and forced us to make the errors."

Midway through the second set the Lady Bulldogs looked on the verge of another double-digit loss when a 7-1 Lady Mule run pushed them ahead 19-11. Starting with a Sadera Williams kill, however, Sikeston put together their best run of the night.

Williams kill started a 6-1 Lady Bulldog rally that closed their deficit to three points, at 20-17. Unfortunately for Sikeston, Poplar Bluff was satisfied to trade points the rest of the way and they never climbed any closer.

Sikeston senior Esther Chinwuko handles a Poplar Bluff volley Monday during the opening round of the Class 4, District 1 Tournament at the Sikeston Field House. (Brent Shipman, photo)

A pair of Esther Chinwuko kills kept it a three-point game at 22-19 before a missed serve and a Lady Mule kill set up match point at 24-20.

Larysa McClellon hammered down one last Sikeston kill, but Poplar Bluff's Destiny Wallace immediately followed suit with a match-sealing kill from the left side of the net.

"I had to call my second timeout (during our last push)", Beydler said. "I called the first one fairly early and then we got a push to where we were only a couple points back midway through the set and I saw that intensity start to come back. I saw balls that had been falling no longer falling. The girls were getting around and doing what they needed to do. But it was just a little too late to get (back in it)."

Leading the Lady Bulldogs in kills was Chinwuko with five. She also added an ace and nine digs to her team's cause.

Lauren Beydler finished with a team-high 12 assists to go with 13 digs and a block while McClellon totaled four kills and a block. Vonneicia Herrin contributed three kills and a block with Olivia Nash and Morgan Merrill collected a kill each.

Hannah Cooper had seven digs.

Sikeston head coach Steve Beydler addresses his team during a timeout in the second set against Poplar Bluff Monday during the opening round of the Class 4, District 1 Tournament at the Sikeston Field House. (Brent Shipman, photo)

With the loss Sikeston finishes the season at 11-19-1 and having won their sixth SEMO Conference Tournament championship in the last seven years. They lose three seniors in Chinwuko, Lauren Beydler and Williams.

"We've struggled with the fact we're so young and inexperienced and trying to find the right mix of potential talent with team attitude," Steve Beydler said of the season. "That's one of the things we've been really trying to figure out how to achieve. We finally started to get in the mix here the last two to three weeks. I saw glimpses of it all year and I felt like we had the makings, but we had to get more consistent at trying to pull it out of them."

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