"Their record doesn't reflect how good they are," Exeter's Jason Cole said when evaluating the Miller Lady Cardinals prior to the semifinals of the Class 1 District 7 volleyball tournament at Exeter.
The third-seeded Miller girls rolled through second-seeded Verona and then hammered Ozark 7 Conference champion Exeter in the finals to earn the District 7 title.
Exeter, 23-3-3 on the season and the scourge of the Ozark 7 for the past four years, struggled to survive against upstart Wheaton in the first semifinal match. The Lady Tigers pulled out a 2-1 match with a 29-27 nailbiter in the third game just to advance to the finals.
In that championship bout, Miller prevailed. The Lady Cardinals took an early lead, although Exeter would tie at 10-10 when Abbey Scott's wicked spike came up a winner. Sarah Staples gave the Lady Tigers their only lead of the game at 14-13 with a blind reverse bump that found open court on the Miller side.
The Lady Cardinals immediately tied the game at 14-14 and did not trail again. Scott scored four points late for Exeter and pulled her team within 24-21, but Miller took the opener, 25-21.
In the second game, Miller jumped out to a 9-2 lead as the Lady Tigers struggled at the service line. A Staples kill and a pair of points off Lindsay Kidwell serves brought the home team back within 9-5.
Miller kept the pressure on at the net and pushed the lead to eight at 14-6. Scott converted on three consecutive points to give Exeter hope, but Miller's Owens served for five straight points to establish a 20-9 advantage. The teams traded points to reach 21-10 and then Miller's Aubrey Ellison served out the match, with Kaleigh Parscal blocking Scott at the net for the game and match winner.
The Lady Tigers ended their season at 24-4-3 and earned the District 7 runners-up trophy. Exeter won the Ozark 7 Conference championship with an unblemished 6-0 record.