Dexter volleyball beats Notre Dame in potential district semifinal preview

Dexter's Blair Rogers (22) hits away from the Notre Dame block of Natalie Timpe (16) and Grace Landewee during the first set Monday night at the Bearcat Event Center in Dexter.

DEXTER — The Dexter volleyball team is taking a sneak peak at the Class 3 District 1 tournament field this week.

The third-seeded Bearcats defeated the second-seeded Notre Dame Bulldogs 25-16, 18-25, 25-19 in a potential preview of a semifinal round matchup Monday night at the Bearcat Event Center.

On Thursday, the Bearcats will host top-seeded Perryville in what they hope will be a preview of the district championship match.

The district tournament begins Monday at the Bearcat Event Center.

Dexter coach Starla Pulley likes the way the Bearcats have been playing lately.

“We lost to Advance in the county tournament (Friday night). They’re a great, stellar team, but we were still playing at a better level than we had been,” Pulley said. “I think the girls are starting to slowly see the effort, the communication and the energy out there will pay off when we’re playing tough teams.”

For Notre Dame, this week is about much more than facing a potential opponent in the district tournament. The Bulldogs begin play in the SEMO Conference tournament Tuesday in Cape Girardeau.

“This is our last regular-season game, but we actually have a tournament left,” Notre Dame coach Meredith Brinkmeyer said. “We have four matches (Tuesday) and bracket play on Thursday. I think they thought about (playing Dexter in the district tournament), but I think they’re still thinking we have potentially eight more games left before districts come.”

Dexter took the lead for good in the third set on the second of two straight kills by Dulcie Pullen, delivering the Bearcats a 6-5 lead.

Pullen, Bailey Chamberlain, Blair Rogers and Chloe Thurmon led a balanced front-row attack with eight kills apiece.

Pullen finished with a match-best 20 assists, and Shelby Bishop had 17.

The Bearcats (17-8-4) never trailed again, although Notre Dame (16-7-4) sliced its deficit to one twice.

Dexter built its lead to eight points (22-14) on consecutive kills by Rogers and Pullen, but the teams traded points down the stretch before the Bearcats ended the match on a kill by Thurmon that landed just inside the back line.

“I was proud of the girls’ effort tonight,” Pulley said. “They had lots of energy. That first game, we attacked the ball well. The second set, we didn’t attack the ball as much as we did the first game and it kind of showed a little bit. That third set, we started getting our rhythm back and running a quicker offense.”

Brinkmeyer said the Bulldogs struggled with their block, particularly in the third set.

“We had a number of them hit and just drop in front of us,” she said. “We have to do a much better job of cresting and getting a little tighter toward the net.”

Both teams played exceptional defense with Dexter’s Mekenzie Yount amassing 32 digs.

“Mekenzie did a great job for us tonight,” Pulley said. “She talked a lot. She had lots of high energy and she played really good defense for us.”

Maggie Eby paced the Bulldogs with 15 digs and Delaney Dohogne had eight.

“I thought we fought hard defensively, fix that little error (on the block), and it could have gone a different way,” Brinkmeyer said. “Effortwise, I think the girls were in it. They were trying.”

The Bulldogs were fighting an uphill battle in the first set because Dexter took a 5-0 lead and never trailed. They cut the deficit to three points five times before Dexter strung together a 4-0 run to extend its lead to 17-10.

The Bearcats scored six of the set’s final eight points to finish off Notre Dame.

The second set was close early with the lead changing hands three times and the score being tied on seven occasions.

Notre Dame scored six straight points to take a 15-10 lead, and the Bearcats came no closer than three the rest of the way.

Grace Landewee started the rally with one of her team-high seven kills, and Eby had two of her four service aces.

Natalie Timpe added five kills and Rylee McClintock had four. Sarah Brennan paced the Bulldogs with 19 assists.

The Bulldogs scored four of the final five points to tie the match at one game apiece.

“I think they’ll be ready (for the tournaments). Their effort was there. They didn’t give up. They kept fighting until the last point hit the ground,” Brinkmeyer said. “Just clean up a few things here and there, I think we have a good shot.”

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