COLUMBIA - Hickman seniors Leslie Gregory and Chloe Perkins were strong offensively Monday night, leading the host Kewpies to 25-21, 25-13, 25-19 victory against rival Rock Bridge.
Gregory, a 6-foot-1 middle hitter, led Hickman with 13 kills and made offense difficult for the Bruins with six blocks. Outside hitter Perkins added eight kills. Both coaches acknowledged the difference Gregory's presence on the court made.
"Partly it's her size (that makes her a threat)," Hickman coach Greg Gunn said. "It's tough to block her. She was fired up."
"She... seals the net when she blocks," Rock Bridge coach Beth Newton said. "We gave them (Hickman) too many free balls."
Defensively, Hickman senior libero Hannah Babcock tallied 17 digs, while Perkins and senior setter Jessica Strother had 13 each. Gunn said he also liked the effort he saw from junior outside hitter Natalie Sauble.
"Natalie did not make a lot of errors," Gunn said. "She had a ton of digs. She played with composure."
Despite the loss, Newton found some positives as well.
"I thought (senior setter) Alex Perry played well," she said. "(Freshman libero) Nici Thaler had a great night and led the team in digs. (Junior middle hitter) Caitlyn Beck had 10 kills on 16 attempts, which was a great night for her."
Still, Newton said, "we had lack of communication." The team was "a little timid sometimes."
She added that the team's youth played a factor and that the Bruins weren't "tough enough" at times to get through the Hickman rallies.
"They (Hickman) had some good serves," she said.
Gunn said the effort from players on both teams always increases for a rivalry game.
"We had a big crowd here. They (Rock Bridge) play a notch above, and same with us," he said.
To accommodate more fans and students, Hickman pulled out both sets of bleachers, which Gunn said hadn't happened previously during his tenure.
Newton said the loud crowd made communication among players more difficult.
Hickman won its seventh straight match to improve to 8-1. Rock Bridge fell to 3-4 and will play at Hermann on Tuesday. A rematch between the rivals is scheduled for Oct. 23 at the Hearnes Center.