The Lady Red Raiders from Baylor School can officially make plans for next week's state volleyball tournament after eliminating the Briarcrest Lady Saints at Baylor Saturday afternoon.
Baylor, improving to 39-7 with the win, advanced by scores of 25-18, 23-25, 25-19 and 25-18.
"I'm very happy that our team is going back to the state tournament for the fifth straight year," said Baylor coach Sarah Lail after the match ended.
Baylor hadn't played a match in almost two weeks, but during that time, Lail was able to see the Lady Saints in action during a match in Nashville.
"I was able to scout them last week in Nashville and I knew they had a good team at that time. The good news is that we had adequate time to prepare for them. I'm sort of glad that we had a tough match today because every team we face from here on out will be very good.
"I thought we played well at times, but the important thing is that we kept fighting and did what we needed to do to finish the match. Once our passing picked up, things went a whole lot better, but we did good job of blocking up front and I can't remember a match this year when we had so many blocks," Lail added
Briarcrest ends its season at 23-16, but with no seniors and only two juniors on their roster, the Lady Saints should be a powerful force for the coming years.
"We're disappointed that our season is over, but we came in here a little hesitant today and didn't play as aggressively as we normally do," said Briarcrest coach Carla Anderton afterward.
"We had some great moments today, but Kendal Strand is our best player and she's been sick this week. It would have been nice to have her at full speed. But we've played everybody pretty tough this year and we'll start making plans for next year," Anderton concluded.
The match was really a whole lot closer than the scores might indicate. After the two teams split the first two sets, the score was tied at 14-14 after a kill by Briarcrest freshman Morgan Hunt. After a hitting error by the Lady Saints, Baylor senior Rachel Ford recorded four straight service points to give the Lady Raiders a 19-14 lead.
A kill from Mackenzie Goodwin kept Briarcrest alive at 24-19, but Ford then recorded one of her 18 kills to give Baylor the set and a 2-1 lead.
Baylor had seven hitting errors at the start of the fourth set and trailed 8-6. A kill from Hunt made it 14-11 in Briarcrest's favor before Baylor called a timeout.
Gabby Gray came to life and had two kills in a six-point run with the last giving Baylor a 16-15 lead. It was a see-saw affair for the next few minutes before a kill from Ford gave the Lady Raiders a 19-18 lead and the matched ended shortly after that as Baylor scored the final seven points of the set.
Ford finished with 18 kills and 11 digs in her final home match while the freshman Gray was next with 17 kills. Sophomore Haven Bethune was effective with 46 assists while freshman Lilly Turner had 22 digs and Cassie Elrod 14.
Strand was the leader for the Lady Saints with 15 digs and a dozen kills while Mackenzie Goodwin and Hunt both finished with 10 kills.
Callie Anderton had 32 assists while Hannah Cox -- just an eighth grader -- finished with 14 digs.
Taylor Bishop -- 1 dig;
Marley Bennett -- 4 kills, 1 ace;
Callie Anderton -- 3 kills, 5 digs, 1 ace, 32 assists;
Hannah Cox -- 14 digs;
Madison Morris -- 1 dig, 2 aces;
Lindi Perkins -- 3 kills, 2 digs;
Kendal Strand -- 12 kills, 15 digs, 1 ace;
Mackenzie Goodwin -- 10 kills, 9 digs;
Morgan Hunt -- 10 kills, 5 digs, 3 aces;
Abigayle Rumey -- 1 kill.
Greyson Ingle -- 2.5 blocks, 1 dig, 1 kill;
Jane Wilson -- 3 blocks, 7 kills;
Haven Bethune -- 9 digs, 46 assists, 2 blocks, 1 kill, 2 aces;
Cassie Elrod -- 14 digs, 3 aces;
Lilly Turner -- 22 digs, 1 ace;
Sarah Sumida -- 2 digs;
Gabby Gray -- 1 ace, 3.5 blocks, 9 digs, 17 kills;
Rachel Ford -- 1 ace, 11 digs, 18 kills.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)