It's no secret that Rachel Travis is one of the main players for the Baylor volleyball team.
Travis suffered a sprained ankle in early September and missed about two weeks. Baylor was forced to use players in new positions during her absence, but overall, that turned into a good thing because the Lady Raiders are better now because of it.
Travis returned for some key region matches on the final weekend in September and the Lady Red Raiders haven't lost since.
Travis was one of five Baylor seniors playing their final match at home on Saturday afternoon as they advanced to the Final Four of the D-II state tournament with a 3-0 romp over Brentwood Academy, taking just over an hour to win by scores of 25-17, 25-20 and 25-12.
The Lady Eagles concluded their season at 18-21.
The news wasn't so good for arch-rival GPS as their season ended in Memphis with a 3-0 loss to St. Agnes by scores of 25-16, 27-25 and 25-22.
The Lady Eagles had a 9-6 lead in set one before Haven Bethune recorded seven straight service points as Baylor took the upper hand at 14-9. It never got closer than four points as Baylor slowly pulled away.
Brentwood Academy scored the first point of the second set, but Baylor scored six of the next seven points for a 6-2 advantage. The lead was 12-8 when senior Macall Nabors unleashed an ace. By the time she had recorded six more service points, the difference was 19-8 and the Lady Raiders were on their way to victory.
While Travis totally dominated at times, teammate Madeline Rose was equally as dominant, recording four straight kills at the end to secure the victory.
Needless to say, the Baylor players were all excited when the final point had been recorded and it was determined that they will be back in Murfreesboro next week where they hope to improve on last year's runner-up finish.
"That was huge," Travis said as she noted that Baylor will be at the state tournament for the fourth straight year.
"We struggled a little when I got hurt, but it turned out to be a good thing as we got better as a team. I have a good feeling about our team as we're peaking at the right time. We continue to press on and I'm so happy to be going back.
"We're on a high right now and we hope to keep playing well," Travis added after recording 20 kills, four digs, three aces and one block.
Baylor coach Sarah Lail echoed comments made by Travis.
"We're playing really well right now, but we got better while Rachel was out. That allowed us to prepare for where we are right now. I'm excited for us to be able to represent Baylor and Chattanooga at the state tournament next week. We go in knowing that everyone had a good team," Lail said after Baylor had improved to 34-12.
"We executed well today as we were well-prepared. We were hoping to play earlier in the day, but we were together all afternoon and even had a little dance party. We just wanted to stay focused.
"Rachel had another great match as it's hard to match her fire and intensity. She goes all out on every point and she does so much more than hit it hard. She passes in every rotation and has the ability to pick apart opposing defenses," Lail complimented.
Brentwood Academy coach Shari Christenson is in her first year as the Lady Eagles' head coach. Her team lost to Baylor by a similar score earlier in the season, so she knew what her team was facing when they entered the gym Saturday afternoon.
"I'm just proud that we battled hard to the very last point," she said after a post-match meeting with her team.
"We got beat by a very, very good Baylor team and I fully expect them to be playing well next week. If we were going to lose at this point, it may as well be to one of the best teams.
"We've really come a long way this season as we're so much better than we were the first day. Unfortunately, Baylor was on today and there wasn't anything we could do about it.
"We were scrambling all match to keep the ball in play, but Rachel is so good. She has the ability to completely take over a match and that's what she did today. I'll be really disappointed if they aren't playing for a state championship next Friday," she added.
While Travis had her usual outstanding performance, she had plenty of help.
Rose followed with 13 kills and eight digs while Nabors had nine digs. Megan Kaylor finished with 29 assists while Rachel Ford had six kills and eight digs.
For Brentwood Academy, Diamond Stewart had seven kills and 14 digs while Calleigh Minor finished with 10 assists and eight digs. Morgna Yamek had 16 digs while Hailey Pierson added six kills.
Baylor's next match will be on Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m. Chattanooga time against Battle Ground Academy. The other D-II semifinal match has Harpeth Hall facing St. Agnes.
BRENTWOOD ACADEMY STATS:
Diamond Stewart -- 7 kills, 14 digs, 1 ace;
Brennan Sehrt -- 3 kills, 1 block;
Bailey Brown -- 3 digs;
Aubrey Collins -- 2 aces, 12 digs;
Morgan Yamek -- 2 aces, 16 digs;
Hailey Pierson -- 6 kills;
Margaret Tulloch -- 6 assists, 5 digs;
Calleigh Minor -- 10 assists, 8 digs, 1 ace;
Darby Daniell -- 2 kills, 1 block.
Greyson Ingle -- 1 kill, 1 dig;
Kate Kaufman -- 1 kill, 1 dig;
Paige Partrick -- 1 dig;
Haven Bethune -- 2 aces, 8 digs;
Madeline Rose -- 13 kills, 8 digs;
Macall Nabors -- 9 digs, 1 ace;
Rachel Travis -- 20 kills, 4 digs, 3 aces, 1 block;
Megan Kaylor -- 29 assists, 2 digs, 3 aces;
Rachel Ford -- 6 kills, 8 digs.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)