Another early September weekend means one thing for many high school girls throughout the state… time to play some volleyball! Beginning in 2000, the annual Dig for Life Tournament at Southeast Missouri State University took place this last weekend. Forty-eight girls volleyball teams throughout the state converge on Cape Girardeau to test their mettle on the court and to learn and grow in the early days of the season. The Cape Central Tigers play hosts of sorts, though the games are not played in their home gym, but rather at multiple locations near the SEMO campus.
The Tigers were thrown right into the fire as they were matched up against Dexter High, a team who won their side of the bracket at this same tournament the year before. A rocky start to the day resulted in a two set defeat, 11-25 in the 1st and 12-25 in the next. Junior Ella Vogel contributed 7 kills, 15 total hits and a dig to the losing effort while senior Emily Spinner was the top assist getter with 6 and added 7 digs of her own.
Game 2 saw Cape take on Valle Catholic in their Friday nightcap. This match was also only two sets, with each school winning one and walking away with a tie in this abbreviated tournament. Cape came out motivated and bennefitted from timely aces from Vogel, Spinner and Malayna McAllister. Vogel sent home a massive spike to make the set 18-17 in favor of the Tigers and Sophia Sapp posted a major block to take a 20-19 lead. Then senior Daley Drum came through in the clutch with two perfectly placed kills and Vogel ended things with a huge ace, winning the set 25-21. The 2nd set was just as hard fought but saw the score reversed for the Tigers go down 21-25. McAllister was particularly special in her libero role contributing in all facets of the game with 4 aces, 3 kills and 15 digs. Junior Ava Nelson had 18 total hits while fellow junior Maddie Thomas led the team with 14 assists.
Saturday brought on Game 3 and the last of the pool play segment where Cape would face South Iron. This time a 2 set victory was in the cards for the Tigers as they won both by a score of 25-18 and 25-21. Vogel contributed her only ace of the match to secure the 1st set win on the 25th point, while also adding 14 kills, 26 hits, 4 digs and a block. Freshman Madison Phelps came away with 19 hits and 5 kills of her own while senior Spinner led the Tigers with 11 assists.
The start of actual tournament play saw the Tigers take on Summersville High School and walk away with yet another tie. Cape lost a heartbreaking first set 22-25. The Tigers kept it close until the end with late aces from McAllister and Sapp, but ultimately could not pull out the victory. The 2nd set was similarly hard fought with Cape eeking this one out 25-23. Vogel once again displayed her talent with timely kills , leading the squad with nine. Another late ace from McAllister made the set 24-23 where the Tigers were able to secure one more point for the set win.
A quick turnaround saw the Cape girls face Bloomfield next. As the Cape girls seem to be sick of ties, the Tigers dominated the match with a quick 2 set victory, winning the first a stellar 25-7 and the next 25-19. Vogel continued to be a terror at the net as she accumulated 2 blocks and an impressive 14 kills. Spinner continued to pitch in on seemingly every statistical category while Maddie Thomas led the team with 12 assists.
Cape Central kept their winning ways alive as they next faced Saxony Lutheran. Vogel set the tone early with a pair of early aces and a block in the 1st set and ended the set with an ending kill, resulting in a 25-16 score for the Tigers. The second set saw more competition but Cape prevailed 25-19. Maddie Thomas again was stellar in setting up her teammates with 12 assists along with five digs. Ava Nelson had 8 digs of her own while Sophia Sapp contributed nine.
The last game the Cape girls played in the tournament was a three-set thriller against Lesterville High School. The first saw a loss for the Tigers as a late block from Daley Drum wasn’t enough with the score being 19-25. Set two resulted in a Tiger triumph, 25-21, as two more clutch Drum blocks led the way. Another hard fought set saw the Tigers’ end to the tournament. The score resulted in a 21-25 defeat and the Tigers were unfortunately eliminated.
As for Vogel, she couldn’t keep her hands off the ball with an absurd 51 total hits, 18 kills, six digs, one block and one ace. “It was definitly pretty tiring to play all of those games on Saturday. I think just all of the adrenaline and excitement to play in the championship helped us get through that last game. This past weekend we definitely did get better as a team, we learned how to play up and not scared. Playing those tougher teams helped us with that. Our toughest game was the last.. we were all so exhausted, but like I said before, the excitement got us through it, even though we didn’t win we were taught a lot.” Emily Spinner walked away with a team leading 16 assists and Thomas and McAllister tied the team lead in digs with 14 each.
The Coach had some things to say about the effort as well, stating “It can be pretty tough playing a lot of games. Especially when the games are close. But it’s good for them to push through the fatigue and keep fighting.
We started off kind of slow Friday night but found our rhythm by Saturday afternoon. I was so proud of how they played. We came together as a team and learned that we can play with tough teams.
The Tigers will return to action after a much needed break Wednesday September 16th at home against Sikeston.