Miller Lady Cardinals keep winning, grab second place at Mt. Vernon tourney

Skylan Akins

Miller is just a Class 1 school. However, if you look at their volleyball schedule, you will mistake them for a Class 5 power. Not only are they playing schools that are bigger than they are, but they are also playing bigger schools with very good volleyball traditions and teams this year. They have already knocked off the likes of Fair Grove, Lamar, Pierce City and Sarcoxie twice and the only two games they have lost has been to a 17-4 Carl Junction in four sets and a 14-2 Strafford in five sets. All of this to say that these Miller Lady Cardinals are good …. very good. Last week didn’t get any easier for Miller as they competed in a loaded field at the Mt. Vernon October Aces Tournament, Saturday.
“We schedule like this for a reason. We want to beat these bigger schools. We want to be challenged. It’s not about the wins or losses to get there but it’s more how we play to get there. The girls felt it on their Final Four run last year and they want to get back there. This schedule helps us prepare for that run,” Miller coach Tamara Landers said.
Saturday posed a whole other challenge, as all of the 16 teams that participated in the October Aces tournament were all Class 3 or above. Except for one, Miller. The Lady Cardinals cruised through pool play splitting sets with Branson losing 22-25 but bounced back 25-21. They would then go on a roll that saw them beating Reeds Spring 25-21, and 25-17 then closing out pool play with a 25-5, 25-17 sweep of Hollister. That would be good for the No. 2 seed come bracket play behind the only team to not lose a set-in pool play, Class 5 Republic.
Miller opened bracket play with a two-game sweep over Mountain View Liberty 25-18, 25-22. On the other side, Republic finally looked vulnerable as Clever took the opening set over No. 1 seed Republic. However, The Lady Tigers prevailed to set up a No. 1 vs. No. 2, big school vs. little school, matchup with Republic for the tournament championship.
“Before the game I was talking with Republic’s coach and some of her fans were saying we’re going to play Miller. So, we wanted to show them who we are,” Landers said.
Miller jumped out to a big lead early on in the first set, led by a very motivated duo in senior Kaylee Helton and junior Haylie Schnake. However, they were unable to hold the lead as Republic would take the opening set 25-22. Republic opened the second set on a run of their own, thanks to a few errors by the Lady Cardinals. Miller responded in a big way as they ended up taking a 20-14 lead before Republic took a timeout. The adjustments were good enough as they would fight all the way back using an 8-0 run and defeat the Lady Cardinals 25-22.
“I thought we fought in spots. We had a big lead and got complacent and let Republic back in it. Sometimes is being a bigger school like they are Class 5 we’re Class 1 and sometimes we don’t go as hard as we need to but at the end of the day, I’m proud of the girls and thought we had a good day. I really would have liked to get a set from them and then the third set is anyone’s ballgame,” Landers said.

Miller senior Kaylee Helton was happy to get the experience.
“It was a great opportunity to play such a competitive tournament like this. We are the only Class 1 school here so competing for a championship was great,” Helton said. “We need these kind of big games as we prepare for the playoffs.”

Miller junior Haylie Schnake was proud of her team.
“I thought we did a lot of good things,” Schnake said following the tournament. “We saw a lot of great competition, better than what we have been seeing. The championship game was awesome, we held a lead against a really good Republic team, and we have something to build off of,” Schnake said.

The Lady Cardinals move to 16-3 on the season heading into conference play. Miller will be back in action Thursday as they take on Ash Grove.


Lawrence County Record

312 S. Hickory St.
Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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