Baylor took East Hamilton’s early shot to the gut and rebounded with three haymakers.
The visiting Lady Red Raiders, who fell behind in the first set, stormed back to sweep the Lady Hurricanes, 3-0, in a non-league volleyball match on Thursday.
“East Hamilton is definitely a good team,” Baylor coach Sarah Lail said. “We had to adjust to what they were doing, but once we got into our offense I felt pretty comfortable getting the ball to our hitters. It just took us a while to get in the swing of things.”
Once Baylor (33-7) got on track East Hamilton was in trouble and the Lady Red Raiders rolled to the 25-21, 25-16 and 25-19 victory in the season’s “Pink Out” match for the Lady Hurricanes.
Lail called a timeout when East Hamilton built its 6-0 first-set lead and her quick coach-speak lifted her team out of it doldrums.
“I told them we were getting beat on tips and rolls,” she said. “If a team is going to beat us I want them to do it by doing something that’s tough. I told them to regroup, get focused, dig deep, play disciplined volleyball and get out there and play the Baylor game we know how to play.
“They responded well.”
East Hamilton coach Kristy Lenoir, obviously, noticed Baylor’s rebound. What she didn’t see was her players match Baylor’s gumption.
“We didn’t respond,” she said. “I was happy the way we started the first and third games, but we just went flat. Baylor is a very good team that has won a lot of ballgames and you cannot go flat against them at any time.”
Once Baylor got on a roll, the Lady Hurricanes (21-16) seemed emotionally challenged for much of the match.
“We have to play at an emotional high,” Lenoir said. “I told my girls I should see something in everybody’s eyes and I didn’t see that today. You can’t beat a good team if you don’t have that fire in your eyes. That was the difference.”
In the opening set, Baylor slowly got back into the thick of it, but still trailed 17-10. Baylor outscored the hosts 8-1, capped by junior Lexy Hellerstedt’s slam, to tie the set. Senior Rachel Ford’s soft, well-placed spot shot gave Baylor its first lead and another winner to cap what turned out to be a 10-1 spree produced a two-point advantage.
Freshman Gabby Gray’s kill was the set’s clinching point.
“We started off really slow because the tips and rolls were getting us at the beginning,” said Ford, who had 10 kills and eight digs. “After we came together, we were able to put some balls down, come back to get the lead and that was fun.”
Baylor never trailed in the second set.
The Lady Raiders were up 10-7 and freshman Jane Wilson blocked Emma Lenoir’s kill at the net and Lenoir’s next shot sailed long to give Baylor a 12-7 advantage.
Baylor stretched the lead to 22-14 and Wilson’s block of another Lenoir shot at the net ended the set.
Lenoir, the sophomore daughter of the Lady Hurricanes coach, had a kill, a perfectly placed spot shot, Baylor had an error at the net, Lenoir came up with another soft-touch winner and senior Brenna Shaw added a service point to give East Hamilton a 5-1 margin.
The Lady Hurricanes, known more for their power attack, were back to mixing up the offense to slow Baylor’s assault.
Lenoir, whose power kills have the zing of a Hellfire missile, dropped in another two-handed marshmallow and East Hamilton was up 9-7 in the final set. Minutes later she duplicated the shot and the lead was 14-9.
“We tip balls for sure,” coach Lenoir said. “This isn’t the first time we’ve done that. Typically, we do change things up.”
Emma Lenoir had 21 kills, 31 digs and seven assists to lead the Lady Hurricanes.
Baylor was prepared to see a power display from the Lady Hurricanes, though.
“They’re known for players who can really hit the ball hard,” Ford said. “We were expecting that, so it took us aback when they started tipping and rolling. We had to adjust to that.”
East Hamilton’s Briley Considine, a senior, ripped a kill-point for an 18-14 lead, but the Lady Raiders reeled off seven straight points to gain a 20-18 advantage.
A Baylor miscue stopped the run, but the Lady Raiders closed out the match with four straight points, the last coming on a Ford kill.
Haven Bethune – 36 assists, 17 digs, 3 aces, 1 kill, 1 block
Gabby Gray – 13 kills, 11 digs, 4 aces, 1 block
Greyson Ingle – 4 kills, 1 block, 1 dig
Rachel Ford – 10 kills, 8 digs
Lexy Hellerstedt – 6 kills, 2 digs
Lilly Turner – 10 digs, 2 aces
Katherine Robbins – 6 digs
Jane Wilson – 3 kills
Kate Kaufman – 1 kill
Cassie Elrod – 1 dig
Sarah Sumida – 1 ace
Sydney Harris – 27 assists, 15 digs
Briley Considine – 3 kills, 1 ace, 6 digs
Miranda Roberson – 1 kill, 1 dig
Samantha Headrick – 5 digs
Emma Lenoir – 21 kills, 31 digs, 7 assists
Somer Batten – 5 kills, 1 ace, 1 dig
Meredith Stott – 4 kills, .5 blocks
Brenna Shaw – 1 dig, 1 ace
Kris Joo – 17 digs
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)