The Rolla girls tennis team have had a wild week of matches with Ozark Conference Tournament on Tuesday and Ozark Conference matches on Monday and Thursday. The Lady Bulldogs finished sixth in the conference tournament, while getting wins over Waynesville and West Plains.
The Lady Bulldogs opened the week with a 7-2 win over Waynesville on Monday. Rolla came away with just one win when Kathleen Beetner and Faith Taylor cruised to an 8-1 win at number three. Olivia Burken, who was paired up with Shay Pelfrey, was forced to forfeit due to injury at number two. Rylee Kriete and Diya Allada then took a tough 9-7 loss at number one, putting the Lady Bulldogs behind 2-1 leading into singles.
Rolla then took control of the match, sweeping their way through singles. Kriete opened with an 8-6 win at number one. Allada then pulled out a 9-8 win at number two, winning a tiebreaker 7-4 to seal the win. Beetner and Pelfrey won back to back at three and four, both winning by scores of 9-7. Molly Hardwick and Mya Burken capped off the team victory, both winning 8-4.
"We were hoping to try something new out with doubles. Pelfrey had been injured and was uncertain for singles, but it ended up being Burken who couldn’t finish. We indicated we would have to forfeit at one singles, but Waynesville requested a match since it was their Senior Night. We pushed up our line up and won a bunch of close matches," said head coach Joe Schisler. "Many times teams are really close except for that top player. This showed up again at the conference tournament where really what separated four teams was about a single player. Sometimes a player up top and sometimes a player in ability spread out."
The Lady Bulldogs then took part in the Ozark Conference Tournament on Tuesday. Rolla opened the tournament against a very tough Glendale team. Only five matches were completed between the two teams, as matches were stopped once one team won five matches. The closest completed match came at number one, where O. Burken and Kriete fell 8-5 at number one doubles. The teams of Allada/Beetner and Pelfrey/Hardwick each fell 8-2. Pelfrey then lost 8-0 in singles and Hardwick fell 8-2, ending the match.
Rolla then saw Waynesville for the second time in as many days, cruising to a 5-1 win. O. Burken and Allada kicked things off with a 6-3 win in doubles, while Beetner and Pelfrey pulled out a 7-5 wwin at number two. Kriete and Bevis then won 6-1 at number three. Wins by O. Burken (6-3) and Beetner (6-0) finished off Rolla's 5-1 win.
The Lady Bulldogs finished the tournament against Camdenton, falling 5-0. The Lady Bulldogs had three matches that came down to scores of 6-3, as Kriete and Allada fell by that score at number one doubles, while Allada and Pelfrey each lost by that score in singles.
"I was really proud of how our girls played. We never quite found the magic line up this season, but we did continually compete and find ways to get meaningful experience for our underclassman," said coach Schisler. "I wasn’t sure we would compete as well as we did this year since we had graduated three of our top six last year and two of our top six the year before. We lose three of our top six again next year. Since we recognized this challenge in the program, we really worked hard, and intend to continue working hard, recruiting and getting those recruits the best experience we can against many levels of players."
Rolla then played another Ozark Conference foe when they hosted West Plains for Senior Night on Thursday. The Lady Bulldogs dominated as they honored Kriete, O. Burken and Allada. Rolla started with a great showing in doubles, winning all three matches. Burken and Allada had to grind through a long match, but eventually pulled out a 9-8 win at number one after winning a tiebreaker 8-6. Kriete then paired up with M. Burken at number two, winning 8-5. Pelfrey and Hardwick finished off doubles with an 8-4 win.
The Lady Bulldogs then controlled the match in singles. O. Burken started with an 8-4 win at number one, while Kriete followed with an 8-3 win. Allada then won 8-6 at number three, giving all three of the seniors two wins on their Senior Night. Pelfrey and M. Burken each won 8-3 at four and six, while Hardwick had the lone loss of the match at number five 9-7. Rolla was able to win the match 8-1.
The JV had one extra day of action this week, taking part in the All Area Springfield JV Tournament on Wednesday. The Lady Bulldogs brought four doubles teams in four different brackets and had strong showings throughout.
The Taylor sisters, Faith and Paige, were able to win flight four with a great day of tennis. They opened with a 4-3 win over Nixa, before beating Glendale by the same score. The Taylors faced Kickapoo for the championship of their bracket, winning 4-2. Emma Taylor and Katelyn Sowers then finished third in flight five. The pair opened with a 4-2 win, before a tough 4-3 loss to Springfield Central. They rebounded in the third place match, winning 4-0 over Glendale. Kayla Decker and Shawna Chan finished in fifth in flight six. The pair lost in the first round to Nixa 4-3, before a 4-1 win over Central. They then went on to beat Webb City 4-2 in the third place match. Helen Weiss and Emma Daly wrapped up the day with a seventh place finish in flight seven. After losing in the first two rounds, they beat Nixa 4-2 in the seventh place match.
"This was a great experience for our girls. They all played well and showed part of why we are so excited about RHS Tennis in the coming years. This was our players numbered 9, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 20, and 22. For them to compete this well is impressive at our first time at this tournament," said coach Schisler. "In many cases they were playing junior and senior girls with far more experience. Additionally, most of the schools there were within easy driving distance to the USTA Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield where they have incredible opportunities to get training in clinics and tennis professionals year round. We obviously have a group of girls with a high ceiling. We took JV players to two JV tournaments and some JV players to two varsity tournaments and they just continue to shine."
The Lady Bulldogs will wrap up their regular season with the Waynesville Tournament this weekend, before team Districts kick off next week at Lebanon.