Sikeston volleyball looking to find identity as 2018 season approaches

Friday, August 17, 2018
Grace Foust tries to hit the ball past teammate Zaria Blissett during Sikeston volleyball practice Thursday afternoon at the Sikeston Field House. (David Jenkins/Standard Democrat)

SIKESTON — Head coach Steve Beydler enters his 19th season with Sikeston looking to improve off of a 2017 campaign where the Bulldogs lost in straight sets to Jackson in the district tournament.

Sikeston finished the season with an overall record of 17-13-2 and was 3-4 in the SEMO Conference Tournament and 1-1 in the district tournament.

The Bulldogs lose vital contributors Annie Ensor, Olivia Nash and Morgan Merrill from last season’s roster, but return three starters. Zaria Blissett-Hall, Emily McHaffie, and Khrystionna Swann all return to Sikeston, while Beydler also adds Alivia Cobb — who transferred from Bernie High School.

One thing that Beydler thinks will help this team is the scrappy nature that they bring.

“The team has been working hard all summer on building a scrappy defense and has a great overall attitude and work ethic.”

Even though this team brings a gritty style of play to the court, Beydler said that he still thinks this team is trying to put together one collective identity.

He added that the Bulldogs will need a new dose of leadership and is looking forward to seeing what young players step up to the moment.

“First, they need to forge their own team identity. Losing three very good players has left some holes to fill. We’ve been working on filling those holes. New leaders must step up, and with the need to replace much of our offense, competition is building to see which younger players will step up and get the nod to fill the gaps.”

Staying aggressive, competing, and improving each week has always been Beydler’s goal each season. 2018 is no different, as he said that this team would need to stick to the plan, along with staying healthy as well.

“Our goal is always to be aggressive, compete and improve each week throughout the entire season. We have a little time before we open the season and while we aren’t where I want to be for our first match quite yet, we are making strides in getting there. If we stay healthy and keep challenging ourselves to improve, I feel confident we’ll have a successful season.”

Sikeston opens up its season on Tuesday, Aug. 21, with a jamboree, starting at 6 p.m. The first regular season match for the Bulldogs will be on Monday, Aug. 27 at Cape Central, at 6 p.m.

As for other area schools, Dexter is looking to make another state tournament run. The Bearcats lost to Lutheran South in the Class 3 state tournament last season.

For New Madrid County Central, fourth-year head coach Whitney Gorton is looking to improve from a 13-18 season in 2017, which saw her team lose in the first round of the district tournament to Perryville.

The Dexter High School volleyball team poses for a team photo during Dexter Bearcats Media Day on Wednesday, Aug. 8, at the Bearcats Event Center in Dexter, Mo. (Alex Wallner/Standard Democrat)

Dexter

Coach: Starla Pulley

Seasons with team: 4th; 1st as head coach, three as an assistant

Last season’s record: 25-4-2

Postseason results: Defeated Bloomfield three times, Advance three times, Bell City, Bernie, Bloomfield twice, and Woodland, and tied with Woodland in the SCAA Tournament; defeated Fredericktown and Perryville in the district tournament, and lost to Lutheran South in the Class 3 state tournament.

Starter’s lost: Six

Starter’s returning: Three

Team’s biggest strength: “You know, they work hard. They’re working hard. They have good discipline instilled in them, Coach Morgan — when she was here — had that instilled in them. It’s carrying on. They come in, they’re focused, they know what they want to do, and they work hard to get it done.”

What does team need to improve on the most: “I would say probably communication. You know, talking on the court. We worked a lot this summer on chemistry, you know, talking and gelling and communicating and I think that will be the biggest, one of the things, that we continue to work on throughout the preseason. In-season is just communication. Taking control when talking and just running things seamlessly.”

What are your expectations/goals for this team: “Obviously, you can sit and look at wins and losses, but you know, our goals are to come out every game, not be outworked or outplayed. You know, when you step on the court, you might play a team that might be quicker, faster, better than you, but you know, you should always outplay them. So, we’re hoping to instill that in them, every day, go out and give it all we can no matter who we’re playing. Obviously, to be competitive in our county. We’ve won it the last several years, so we want to continue that tradition and districts, hoping to continue with being competitive in the finals for that.”

NMCC

Coach: Whitney Gorton

Seasons with team: 4th

Last season’s record: 13-18

Postseason results: Lost to Perryville 2-0 in the district tournament.

Starter’s lost: Five

Starter’s returning: One — Tayler Tindle

Team’s biggest strength: “This particular group of kids are close nit. They work together very well. They have goals they’ve worked together to come up with, and are working hard to obtain those this season. The communication is a big key for us this season.”

What does the team need to improve on the most: This group has some young blood that just need experience.”

What are your expectations/goals for this team: “My expectations are to have a winning season and make it to the championship game in districts. We have all the tools in our shed to do so.”

Charleston, Portageville, Oran, and Richland were contacted but did not respond to the questions.

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