Bell City, Leopold to cross paths in sectional

Saturday, October 30, 2004

The Class 1 state champions of the past two years will square off today.

By Jeremy Joffray ~ Southeast Missourian

The past two years the top volleyball team in Class 1 has come from Southeast Missouri.

At the Class 1 sectional tournament today at Advance, those two teams will be on display when Bell City and Leopold pair off for the second time this season at 4:30 p.m. Bell City, the defending state champion, lost the previous meeting.

Leopold (22-6) returns to the Advance sectional for the third straight year, while this is the second straight trip for Bell City (25-6-1). The Wildcats lost in the sectional round last year to Bismarck, which moved up to Class 2 this season.

Gideon (32-2) and South Iron (11-12) will compete in the other sectional. As with all the sites around the state, the sectional winners will meet at 6 p.m. in the quarterfinals, with the winner advancing to the final four. Gideon defeated Bell City in the only meeting between the two teams this season.

"Both teams we will probably have to play, we have lost to this year, so that gives us the edge," Bell City coach Erin Hoffman said.

Notre Dame seeks return

In Class 3, Notre Dame is looking for a return trip to the final four after wrapping up its fifth straight district title with a three-game win against Dexter in the district finals.

Notre Dame (29-4-3) will travel to Park Hills Central for the sectional round. Notre Dame will face Lutheran South (11-17-5) at 3 p.m. Borgia (30-4-1), the team Notre Dame defeated in the quarterfinals last year and lost to in the sectionals two years ago, will play St. Pius (24-7-3) in the other sectional at Park Hills.

Senior middle hitters Laura Browne and Amanda Essner lead a balanced attack for the Bulldogs. Browne finished with 15 kills in the district final, and Essner added 10. The pair are able to stay sharp by hitting against each other in practice.

"We make each other better," Essner said.

The Bulldogs' depth -- the roster has 10 seniors and can easily go 12 deep -- should come into play as Notre Dame tries to put together a pair of wins today in order to qualify for the state final four.

Notre Dame coach Tara Stroup said she has confidence that any player on her team can get the job if called upon.

"Anyone can go in and play," she said.

Scott City looking for first win in state tournament

Scott City (26-9) makes its second trip to the sectionals after upsetting Puxico in the district finals. Puxico had beaten Scott City in the district finals last season and again earlier this season.

The Rams only other district title came in 2002. This year the Rams will face Bismarck (25-4-4) in the sectionals at Bloomfield, Mo., at 4:30 p.m. Bismarck is making its debut in the Class 2 sectionals after four straight trips to the sectionals in Class 1. Caruthersville (20-4) will play Valle (27-4) in the other sectional match.

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