Showdown pits No. 1 vs. No. 2 in season finale

Thursday, October 24, 2002

A one and a two.

No, we're not launching into the fight song of the week.

We're talking about tonight's volleyball game between Notre Dame and Leopold. The teams have held the top two spots in the SEMO Top 10 poll all season and mark the end of their regular seasons tonight with their first meeting.

Top-ranked Notre Dame visits with a 29-4-1 record, and host Leopold comes in at 27-2-1.

Expect the population of Leopold to double for a few hours with a jam-packed gym.

"I would say if anyone wants to get a seat, they better get there early," Notre Dame first-year coach Tara Stroup said. "I'm sure Leopold's whole town will be there, and we're taking a bunch of people. I think it's going to be packed."

"It's been kind of made into a big deal by a lot of people," said sixth-year Leopold coach Leanne Huffman. "It'll be a great game because both teams have a lot of talent. It should be a good showdown."

There will be much at stake, ranging from momentum entering next week's district tournaments to the top spot in the poll.

"They've noticed it, but I don't think they've noticed it as much as Leopold," Stroup said of her players and the poll. "They're proud of that because there are a lot of good teams in there that we've played."

Huffman admits the rankings add a little extra to the showdown.

"Everybody has gotten where they check it every week to see how it's going," she said. "It's a big incentive for us to knock off the No. 1 team, especially with us being such a small school. It's nice to see us ahead of the bigger schools."

Notre Dame, a Class 3 school with an actual enrollment of 444, brings in an eight-match winning streak and has not lost outside of tournament play this season.

Leopold, Class 1 with a student body of 73, has whipped off 12 straight wins since a three-set loss to Ste. Genevieve in the championship game of the Perryville Tournament over a month ago.

The teams were on a collision course to meet in the championship game of the SEMO Tournament earlier this season, but Leopold lost its star player, Holly Jansen, to injury in a semifinal loss to Oakville. Oakville went on to defeat Notre Dame in three sets.

Jansen leads Leopold, the Mississippi Valley Conference champions, in kills and blocks.

"She's definitely one of the top players in the area," Stroup said.

Jansen is complemented by teammates like Courtney Wesbecher, Melissa Stroder and Wendy Vandeven.

The Bulldog statistical leaders change from game to game. Erin Pfau, Katie Beussink and Laura Brown usually lead in kills, Sommer McCauley and Ali Tyson dish out the assists, and Kristen Boos and Amanda Dirnberger are among the top servers and defensive players.

"We've worked hard and our team chemistry is pretty good," Stroup said. "Some of the girls that are so competitive push the others along. They've come out ready to play almost every game this year. We haven't had too many off nights."

The junior-varsity teams kick off the night with a 6 p.m. match.

Get there early.

Running for state

Cross country district meets are this weekend for the state's large schools. Southeast Missouri teams will head to Jackson for the District 1 meet Saturday. The teams there: Jackson, Central, Poplar Bluff, Fox, Lindbergh, Mehlville, Northwest, Oakville and Seckman.

The Class 1, 2 and 3 district meets will be Nov. 2.

A one and a two

Still no fight song.

We're talking Class 4 football, where probably the biggest high school football game in Missouri will be waged this week. In a meeting that could pass for a state championship game, top-ranked Camdenton will take on No. 2 Washington in a district opener. Camdenton enters with a 7-0 record and Washington at 6-1.

Camdenton, Washington, Helias and Waynesville form Class 4, District 9.

Closer to home, a big Class 3 clash will take place at Park Hills, Mo., when the unbeaten Central Rebels (7-0), ranked fifth, host Ste. Genevieve (6-1), ranked ninth. The game will go a long way in determining the champion of District 2, which also contains Festus (6-1) and Potosi (0-7).

Another big district showdown will take place in Perryville, where Hayti (5-1), ranked No. 2 in Class 1, visits St. Vincent (4-2). Hayti, a quarterfinalist last year, will be the favorite but likely will meet strong resistance from the Indians, who will be on their home field. Hayti dethroned St. Vincent last year, ending an Indian run of five straight District 1 titles that led to two state championship games appearances.

Valle (4-3) and Chaffee (1-6) also are in the district.

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