Facing what could possibly their final home volleyball match of the season, the GPS Bruisers came out ready to play on Tuesday evening in their match with arch-rival Baylor.
The Bruisers were clicking on all cylinders in the first set as they prevailed by a 25-23 final, but they weren't able to maintain that same level of play as Baylor came back to win the next three sets and the match with scores of 25-13, 25-18 and 25-9.
With the win, Baylor improved to 38-7 overall and 7-0 in the D-II East Region while GPS is now 20-26 overall and 1-6 in region play.
While Baylor earns the top seed from the East with its win and gets a bye in the first round, GPS will be on the road to Nashville Saturday for an important match with Brentwood Academy.
Baylor never led in that first set until the end.
Olivia Berger had two kills at the start for a quick 2-1 GPS lead before recording six service points as the Bruisers built a 9-2 lead.
The biggest difference came at 15-6 following a kill by Reagan Williams, prompting a Baylor timeout.
A kill from Greyson Ingle got Baylor to within five at 21-16 before the Lady Raiders got six straight service points from Lilly Turner for its first lead at 22-21.
A block from Allyce Buniak gave GPS a 23-22 lead before Rachel Ford's kill tied the score at 23-all.
Williams then sealed the deal with another kill as GPS claimed the first set.
The next three sets weren't nearly as exciting or as close.
"It's always a tough match when you come over here to play," said Baylor coach Sarah Lail after the match ended.
"We felt a whole lot better after the first set, but I was proud of the way we battled back at the start. We just clinched the region championship and puts us right where we want to be for a possible run at a state title.
"It's been a great season so far as we have great chemistry on this team. These girls have worked hard all season and it's paying off," she said, knowing that her team won't play again until Saturday, Oct. 19.
GPS coach Paul Brock was happy to see practice turn into play during the first set. He was just sorry his team couldn't maintain that same level of play.
"When we did what we'd worked on in practice, it worked like a charm. We executed in the first set and had something positive to build on, but Baylor got ball control back. They made some adjustments and we didn't.
"That first set took a lot of energy out of us and we may have run out of gas, but we helped Baylor a lot as they forced us to make a lot of silly errors," Brock added.
Freshman Gabby Gray was the leader for the Lady Raiders as she finished with 16 kills and 15 digs. She also had 3.5 blocks and an ace.
Turner, another talented ninth grader, added 25 digs and three aces while sophomore Haven Bethune finished with 39 assists and 13 digs while adding five kills and a pair of aces.
Ford, one of three seniors on this Baylor squad, had 13 kills and a dozen digs in the final regular-season match.
Berger, who has been at or near the top of the volleyball stats board for the city all fall, had her usual outstanding match with 19 kills and 22 digs. She also had three blocks.
Williams was equally as effective with 21 assists and 15 kills while Kelby Crownover had 16 digs.
Greyson Ingle -- 3 kills, 3 blocks;
Kate Kaufman -- 2 digs;
Jane Wilson -- 7 kills, 1.5 blocks;
Haven Bethune -- 2 aces, 5 kills, 39 assists, 13 digs;
Cassie Elrod -- 1 ace, 11 digs;
Lilly Turner -- 3 aces, 25 digs;
Sarah Sumida -- 1 ace, 1 dig;
Gabby Gray -- 1 ace, 16 kills, 3.5 blocks, 15 digs;
Lexy Hellerstedt -- 2 digs;
Rachel Ford -- 1 ace, 13 kills, 12 digs.
Kelby Crownover -- 16 digs, 1 ace;
Jenna Simpson -- 1 ace, 1 assist, 5 digs;
Olivia Berger -- 19 kills, 3 blocks, 22 digs;
Caroline Vance -- 7 digs;
Angela Bonds -- 6 kills;
Allyce Buniak -- 3 blocks;
Katie Brandao -- 1 kill, 2 digs;
Gabby Hughes -- 1 ace, 4 assists, 6 digs;
McKenzie Hobbs -- 1 ace;
Reagan Williams -- 2 kills, 21 assists, 15 kills;
Helen Johnston -- 1 block.
(email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)