By Hunter Meine (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The Camdenton Lady Lakers beat the West Plains Zizzers to clinch the Class 4 District 8 Championship on Tuesday night. It is Camdenton volleyball’s first district title since 2008.
The Lady Lakers were favorites entering this matchup as the No. 1 seed boasting a 25-5-3 record. They swept West Plains 3-0 in their regular season matchup.
Camdenton defeated Rolla in their semifinal match in three dominant sets, preventing the Lady Bulldogs from scoring more than 17 points in a single set.
West Plains entered the district championship after an upset over No. 2 seed Marshfield in the semifinals.
West Plains opened the first set with a strong start, building up a quick 6-3 lead. Camdenton fought back, going on a run to take a three-point lead of their own at 11-8, forcing the Zizzers to call their first timeout.
Momentum remained in the Lady Lakers’ favor, who cruised to the end of the set 25-15. The Lady Lakers ran a beautiful play through Junior Payton Kincaid whose kill decidedly closed the set.
The second set was nothing like the first, with the Lady Lakers roaring to a 12-3 start. Kincaid returned to single handedly spark an early run that put West Plains into a deficit they couldn’t recover from. The set would once again end in the Lady Lakers’ favor, 25-20.
The Zizzers looked to make a statement in the first set, sparking a 4-0 start that ended with a service error. Camdenton used that error to crawl its way back into the most competitive set of the match. The two teams traded leads until they were tied at 12, when the Lady Lakers were able to build up a lead to the end. They claimed the third and final set 25-19.
The Lady Lakers benefited greatly from their senior players in the closing set. Jackie White seemed to cover every inch of the floor and was a force at the net with her athleticism. Sydney Smith and Olivia Whittle orchestrated a deadly offense through consistent communication and precision. Miranda Hadfield, Brooklyn Stidham, and Delaney VanBuren kept level heads until the final point, keeping their team operating like a well-oiled machine until the finish.
Camdenton head coach Austin Walker was ecstatic with how dominant her team was en route to claiming Camdenton’s first district title in over a decade.
“We took second place in last year’s district tournament, so we got a taste,” Coach Walker said. “The girls remembered that, and worked hard all year to make it back to this point. It feels so good to have come away with the win this time around.”
Coach Walker’s MVP of the match was none other than Payton Kincaid, who is already looking forward to the state championship.
“Winning the district title is amazing, but we’re definitely looking forward to the state tournament,” said Kincaid. “This is a great group of girls and we’ve worked so hard for this. We can definitely win the state championship”
Camdenton will play on Saturday, Oct. 31 in the sectional round of the state tournament. A win there would advance them to the quarterfinals, which will be played the same day. Winning both of those matches will place the Lady Lakers in their first volleyball final four in program history.