CAMERON, Mo. — For the second-straight season, Cameron and Maryville met up in Cameron for a district championship clash.
Last season, it was the Spoofhounds who picked up the title on their way to a state championship. On Monday night, the Dragons (28-4) had the firepower to move to the sectional round of the Class 3 State Tournament with a 3-0 sweep of Maryville.
“I’m really proud of this team,” Maryville senior Grace Wright said. “I’ve seen so much growth and development from every single girl and it’s just been amazing to watch and be a part of."
The Spoofhounds (11-18) acquitted themselves well in the matchup, but like the Spoofhounds had a year ago when in difficult moments, they could always turn to Serena Sundell for a kill, the Dragons had that luxury on Monday with star hitter Avery McVicker.
“She can hit the ball so hard — so, so hard,” Maryville coach Bailey Cook said. “She is just hard to stop.”
The defending state champions were fighting to keep their season alive in the third set and built a 22-20 lead over the top-seeded Dragons. But the Dragons had McVicker.
The Cameron senior smashed four-consecutive kills into the middle of the floor. The season ended for Maryville with junior hitter Rylee Vierthaler’s kill attempt just landing wide and Cameron was able to celebrate on its home court.
“She is a great player,” Vierthaler said of McVicker. “Props to her, she is a great leader on her team. Congrats to Cameron. They are a great team and I can’t wait to see how far they go.”
Maryville kept the match competitive throughout against the powerful Dragon squad. In the first set, an ace for Spoofhound libero Kennedy Kurz brought the Hounds to within 22-20, but Cameron was able to hang on for a 25-21 win.
McVicker got rolling in the second set, and Maryville struggled to find offense outside of Vierthaler, repeatedly feeding the junior even when she was in the back row. McVicker put the exclamation point on a 25-13 victory with a kill to end the set.
The third set showed the growth that Cook has seen all season. The Spoofhounds were far more balanced in the final set.
“We’ve grown so much since the beginning of the season and everybody’s work ethic to just keep getting better every game and every practice is just something that made the season so much fun,” Vierthaler said.
Wright had a block for an early 3-1 lead. Vierthaler, Kurz, Wright and Addison Weldon each had kills to put the Hounds up 9-7.
“They showed that determination, that fight and that will that they wanted it,” Cook said. “But Cameron is such a good team that they came back and fought a little bit harder.”
It was 11-9 after an Anastyn Pettlon ace and the game shifted between tied and a two-point Spoofhound lead until Wright got a kill to put the team up 22-20, but McVicker had the answer to deliver her team its first district championship since 2011.
“It is always going to stink when you lose in the postseason, but the fact that they made it to another district championship, that is not something to hang their heads about,” Cook said.
Cameron has never made the state semifinals in volleyball and will be looking to accomplish that on Thursday when they will face Notre Dame de Sion in the sectionals and if they win have a quarterfinal game the same day.
Maryville will look to make a sixth-straight trip to the district championship game next season. The Spoofhounds return all but one starter next season and kills leader Vierthaler, assists leader Pettlon and digs leader Kurz will all be seniors.
“I hope coming into next season, they are just as hungry if not more,” Cook said.
Monday’s match was the final one for seniors Addie Arnold, Sloane McAdams, Jillian Ternus, Avery Baker and Wright. Their class finishes their careers as four-time district finalists with two district championships and the 2020 state championship.
“I just hope we are remembered for our leadership and working hard,” Wright said. “We’ve all had to work our way up. We honestly did start from the bottom and we’ve had to work for playing time and we’ve had to work to get to his varsity level.”
Maryville 3, Northland Christian 0
Maryville swept Northland Christian on Saturday to advance to the district championship game. The game scores were 25-15, 25-13 and 25-19.
Vierthaler had 10 kills and five aces to lead the team in both categories. Ava Dumke added five kills while Weldon had three. Pettlon had 15 assists.
Kurz had 19 digs to lead the team and in the process set the school’s all-time record for digs in a season.