(BRENT SHIPMAN ~ Sikeston Standard Democrat)
SIKESTON, Mo. -- It didn't come easy and it wasn't the prettiest, but the Jackson volleyball team advanced.
The Indians used a late surge in Game 1 and a dominant start in Game 2 to down Sikeston 25-20, 25-19 in a Class 4 District 1 opening match.
The fourth-seeded Indians will face top-ranked Farmington at 5 p.m. today in the first semifinal match.
Jackson wasn't overpowering, but the Indians made plays when it counted.
"We played tense tonight," Jackson coach Maile Gannon said. "We were hesitant, a little nervous about making mistakes."
Jackson used a 6-2 run to gain separation midway through Game 1 after the Bulldogs had taken a 7-6 lead.
Sikeston answered with a run of its own to tie the game at 15-15.
The Indians responded with a 5-2 run after a timeout to give them a 20-17 advantage they never relinquished.
"That was nice," Gannon said. "We hadn't really established much of a lead. To get a few points ahead, it was nice to relax."
A bright spot for the Indians in Game 1 came from libero Hayley Bohnert.
Bohnert made several nice plays to extend rallies for Jackson, finishing the game with a team-high 14 digs.
"I was just trying to keep us positive and to stay up," Bohnert said. "A huge obstacle with us is the mental game. But with districts, everybody is 0-0. It's a chance to start over and to go play hard."
Gannon was impressed with the play of her defensive specialist.
"She did a great job," Gannon said. "She saved a lot of balls for us in the middle of the floor. She was assertive tonight and came up with some big plays. She's made a 180-degree turn. She's been fantastic and really played well this year."
Bohnert was saving the balls while the Indians were overwhelming the Bulldogs at the net.
"They use their right-side attackers a lot," Sikeston coach Steve Beydler said. "We put a blocker on them and played well early on and that kept us in the game. Then we got lazier and nervous and started second guessing ourselves."
Jackson wasted little time in asserting itself in Game 2. The Indians jumped out to a 7-1 lead thanks in large part to the sloppy play of Sikeston.
"We discussed that at the break," Gannon said of the early lead. "We came out real fast and put pressure on them and made them frustrated."
Added Beydler: "We were worried about making mistakes. We quit attacking and were just free balling and tipping it over the net."
Sikeston refused to go down easily.
The Bulldogs looked like they were going to make a game of it when they pulled to within 14-9, but Jackson went on a 4-0 run to stretch the lead to 18-9.
"That was awesome," Bohnert said. "We did a better job making our serves, making good passes and putting the ball away."
Sikeston stayed scrappy, pulling to 18-12 and later 22-15 before succumbing to the Indians.
"They made us work for it," Gannon said. "They're a scrappy team and are very athletic. They can get up at the net and they challenged every ball and stayed in it."
Jackson's Kelsey McDowell tallied 12 assists, two kills and seven digs. Kylie Seyer added seven digs and two kills and Laurie Clippard chipped in six digs, two blocks and five kills.