St. Agnes Sweeps Baylor In D-II State Volleyball Final

Lady Stars Win Second Straight State Title With 25-13, 25-23, 25-19 Victory

Friday, October 25, 2013 - by John Hunt

MURFREESBORO, TN -- The Baylor volleyball team was seeing stars at MTSU's Murphy Center Friday afternoon.

Lots of stars, many more than they care to remember.

More specifically, it was a bunch of Lady Stars from St. Agnes who beat the Lady Red Raiders by a 3-0 count in the championship match of the Division II state volleyball tournament.

Baylor had defeated St. Agnes on Thursday in the winners bracket final by a 3-1 margin in a match where every set was close.

But with all the chips on the line, the championship belonged to the Lady Stars as they came back stronger than ever and created difficult situations that the Lady Red Raiders simply had no answer for.

Set scores were 25-13, 25-23 and 25-19.

"That was absolutely incredible," said St. Agnes coach Ryan Wallace after watching his team win for the second-straight year to finish the season at 31-6.

"We wanted to have a strong start and we did, but volleyball is such a mental game.  We just focused on keeping our composure and our goal was to use our power and our knowledge to our advantage.  I feel like we accomplished that goal.

"Today our serving was much better as we only had one service error and that was late  in the match.  But I'm very happy with the way we played as we beat a very good Baylor team today," Wallace nodded while his girls celebrated with hugs and high fives.

St. Agnes was the number one team from the West region while Baylor was the top team from the East-Middle region.  The Lady Stars may have come up short on Thursday, but they learned from their mistakes as they prevailed without much difficulty.

"They served tough and it seemed like they knew more about what we wanted to do," said Baylor coach Sarah Lail, her team having just finished an outstanding season with 41 wins in 49 matches.

"We didn't execute and they did.  I know that we're capable of playing much better than we did, but it's hard to battle back against such a top-quality team as St. Agnes.  I'm not sure if it was a case of nerves of maybe playing in the big gym, but we got timid.

"I hate it for our three seniors as they've been wonderful leaders for our team, but we have such a young group and we appear to have a bright future.  Today just wasn't our day," Lail nodded.

St. Agnes jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first set and never trailed.  The difference was 14-6 when Baylor's Haven Bethune recorded four straight service points, but Haley Cremerius had a block for the Lady Stars to stop the streak as St. Agnes cruised to the first-set win.

The Lady Stars scored the first two points of the second set and had the upper hand until a block from Greyson Ingle gave Baylor its first lead of the day at 7-6.

The biggest lead for Baylor was four points at 11-7 and 12-8 and the Lady Red Raiders were still ahead at 20-17 when Wallace called his team's first timeout.

The Lady Stars responded in a positive fashion with three points to tie before a block from Cremerus gave the lead back to St. Agnes at 21-20. 

The score was tied two more times, the last time following a kill from Jane Wilson to make it 23-23.  A service error by Baylor and another kill from Christina White closed the deal in the second set as the complexion of the match had begun to change.

The Lady Stars were feeling more and more confident while Baylor's confidence level was quickly dropping.

As was the case in the first two sets, the Lady Stars bolted to a 5-0 lead in the third set before Baylor scored on a kill by Rachel Ford.

Two kills by Stephanie Hochu wrapped around one by Katie Paine gave the Lady Stars a 14-5 lead before Baylor rallied with four straight points, three on consecutive kills by Lexy Hellerstedt, Wilson and Ford and a service ace by Lilly Turner.

St. Agnes then regained its composure to scored three of the next four points to regain control of the match.

A kill from Gabby Gray got Baylor within two at 20-18, but the Lady Stars then scored five of the final six points to conclude the match and set off their victory celebration.

Gray led the Baylor hitters with 16 kills while Bethune was busy with 32 assists and nine digs.  Turner finished with 19 digs and a pair of aces.

Ford had 10 kills, seven digs and three aces in her final match for Baylor.

White, the Lady Star's talented 5-10 outside hitter, was honored as the Outstanding Player for the match after being one of the more dominant players for the winners.

BAYLOR STATS:

Greyson Ingle -- 1 block;

Jane Wilson -- 3 kills, 1 block;

Haven Bethune -- 2 aces, 1 block, 32 assists, 9 digs;

Cassie Elrod -- 5 digs;

Lilly Turner -- 19 digs, 2 aces;

Sarah Sumida -- 1 dig;

Gabby Gray -- 16 kills, 2 blocks, 6 digs;

Lexy Hellerstedt -- 3 kills, 1 block, 2 digs;

Rachel Ford -- 3 aces, 10 kills, 7 digs.

(Email John Hunt at nomarathonmoose@comcast.net)


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