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Final thoughts on Dig for Life volleyball tournament

Posted Sunday, September 9, 2012, at 2:09 AM

Notre Dame defeated Bernie in the gold bracket championship of the 48-team Dig for Life Challenge volleyball tournament Saturday night. Saxony Lutheran defeated Clearwater in the silver bracket championship and Puxico beat Southland in the bronze bracket title game.

A story on the gold bracket championship is available at this link: Notre Dame claims title

Final thoughts on tournament:

Less than a month into the season it is clear there is a long list of teams capable of making a run to the state final four from the southeast Missouri region in 2012. I'm not sure if I ever recall a season in the last decade in which so many teams have a legitimate shot to win district tournaments in southeast Missouri. District tournaments in Classes 1-4 seem more balanced than usual this season. Southeast Missouri is strong or balanced enough for Notre Dame to not qualify for the gold bracket in its own eight-team tournament one weekend and win one of the best 48-team volleyball tournaments in the Midwest the next weekend. In my opinion, this year's Dig for Life Challenge did not feature a great deal of upsets/surprises. All 16 teams I predicted would win their respective pools in my blog earlier in the week did just that and three of the four teams I projected would qualify for the gold bracket final four made it. Saxony Lutheran was likely one of the best 16 teams in the tournament, but drew a tough pool-play assignment. It made the best of a tough draw by winning the silver bracket. The best days for the Saxony Lutheran program in this tournament may be in the very near future. Southland and Gideon perhaps have emerged as top contenders to win the Tri-County Conference Tournament at the end of the season. One of the best teams in the Missouri Bootheel -- South Pemiscot -- did not participate in this year's tournament, but will be a legitimate contender in its conference tournament and the Class 1 state playoffs at the end of the season. Another non-participant in this year's tournament - St. Piux X - is perhaps the only team I would list as a heavy favorite to advance to the final four from the southeast Missouri region in any class. Bernie and St. Vincent are among the top Class 1 juggernauts with a chance to return to the Show Me Center in November, but there is an abnormally long list of other Class 1 contenders. All of the extremely talented Class 3, District 1, schools should have a blast eliminating each other before the Class 3 sectionals.

View all of Friday's scores at this link: Friday

View all of Saturday's scores at this link Saturday

View updated brackets here:

Gold Bracket

Silver Bracket

Bronze Bracket

Note: Look for all the scores and a team photo of the Southland volleyball team with its second-place plaque in Tuesday's Daily Dunklin Democrat.

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Look at the 8 teams that made the gold quarters and you see 5 Class 1 teams. Leopold, Bernie, Lesterville, Eminence, and Advance. Should be a interesting year for Class 1. The sectionals could be a battle for the SEMO area teams. I think all 5 of those teams have a good chance for state appearance.

Impressed with all 5 of those teams and have some girls that can bang the ball.

-- Posted by semovolleyball on Mon, Sep 10, 2012, at 9:32 AM

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Dustin Ward has been the sports editor at Daily Statesman in Dexter, Mo., since August 2013.

Ward graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a minor in psychology. He also has 21-hour concentration in environmental science, social studies and education.

Ward started following sports in southeast Missouri when he was five-years-old in 1991. In the 2009-10 basketball season, he watched 84 varsity basketball teams play a total of 147 varsity games. He has also attended the state basketball, baseball and volleyball tournaments the last three seasons. His favorite baseball memory is watching the St. Louis Cardinals defeat the Texas Rangers in the 2011 World Series.

Ward completed an internship in the summer of 2010 at semoball.com. During the internship he had the opportunity to visit and photograph the athletic facilities at all 58 semoball schools. He also researched the district and state championship histories of 55 schools and used the Cover it Live application to cover the Senior Babe Ruth state baseball tournament. After the internship he served as sports editor at Daily Dunklin Democrat in Kennett, Mo., from 2011-2013.