The Baylor volleyball team got its season off on the right foot Monday afternoon with a sweep of teams from Red Bank and Boyd-Buchanan.
All three of these teams are regulars at the state tournament in Murfreesboro, so there's always some great competition on the first day of the season.
It wasn't as close on Monday as it had been in years past as all three winners won in two straight sets.
Baylor beat Red Bank in the opener by scores of 25-13 and 25-21 while Boyd-Buchanan also beat the Lionettes by scores of 25-21 and 25-10. Then in the final match of the day, Baylor turned up the heat a bit before disposing of the Lady Bucs, 25-8 and 25-16.
Red Bank actually played much better against Baylor than Boyd-Buchanan.
The Lady Red Raiders had a 9-7 advantage in the first set before pulling away. The Lionettes didn't back down in the second set and even had leads early, but the more experienced Baylor squad never lost focus and the closest Red Bank could get was 22-19.
Red Bank was also close against the Lady Bucs, trailing by 21-19 in the first set before losing by four points. The Lady Bucs got five straight service points from Katie Delay -- including a pair of aces -- for an early lead in the second set.
Red Bank fought back and had an ace from Hannah Wilson to get within 5-3, but the wheels sort of fell off at that point for Red Bank as the Lady Bucs slowly pulled away.
Then in the final match, Baylor flexed its muscle against Boyd-Buchanan and totally dominated the opening set. The Lady Bucs never quit and kept battling as the second set was much closer, but Baylor was simply too strong and refused to let an early 4-0 lead by the Lady Bucs control the outcome.
It was easy to determine how well each team did by their respective coaches and their comments afterward.
Baylor's Sarah Lail was really pleased while Boyd-Buchanan's first-year coach Alfie Dodd was mostly pleased. Red Bank's Mandi Munn wasn't happy at all.
"I'm really happy with the way my girls responded as we passed and served well in both matches," Lail began.
"We're still trying to work the early-season kinks out and get our lineup where it needs to be, but we had a great start today against two quality opponents. We just want to stay on our game as every point counts, but we have a lot of good players and we hope to have a great season," she added.
Dodd liked what he saw against Red Bank.
"I thought we played well against Red Bank, but we came out sort of intimidated against Baylor in the first set. We just didn't adjust to their serve very well, but I thought we played with a lot of heart in the second set.
"The thing I'm most happy about is the fact that we didn't let up. Now we know what we need to focus on and that's serve receive. We're pretty short, so we have to play big," he nodded.
Red Bank's Munn was so disgusted with her team that she didn't say a word to them in their final timeout. She had a pretty serious talk with them afterward, but she wasn't the least bit happy with the way her girls performed.
"It's obvious that we have a lot of work to do and most of it is mental, which is the hardest part to coach. We just didn't play up to our potential today, but it's all about choices. We chose to not communicate on the court and we chose to not be very well prepared. We just were not ready to play.
"I thought we played pretty well against Baylor, who I think has the best team in the city, but we didn't do anything against Boyd-Buchanan. Nothing against them, but they aren't as good as Baylor. We just got worse as the day progressed," Munn nodded while watching the B-team match.
Gabby Gray was the leader for Baylor as she had 25 kills and six digs in the two matches while teammate Haven Bethune had an outstanding performance with eight kills, 19 assists and 15 digs.
Kristen Reynolds had nine kills, 11 assists, seven digs and six aces to lead Boyd-Buchanan while Delay had 29 digs and Halie Williamson 10 assists.
Rachel Thornbury had 10 digs and nine assists for Red Bank while Allison Walker had eight kills and Janie Smith four blocks.
Red Bank returns to action at home on Thursday against Signal Mountain while Boyd-Buchanan returns to action on Friday in the Bradley Bash. Baylor will be in the Early Bird Tournament in Oak Ridge on Saturday while Red Bank will be one of 12 teams in the Hixson Invitational.
BAYLOR STATS FOR BOTH MATCHES
Summer Smith -- 2 digs;
Jane Wilson -- 3 aces, 4 kills;
Haven Bethune -- 3 aces, 8 kills, 19 assists, 15 digs;
Cassie Elrod -- 4 aces, 6 digs;
Lilly Turner -- 3 aces, 14 digs, 1 assist;
Nicole Terfloth -- 2 digs;
Sarah Sumida -- 2 aces, 7 kills, 21 assists, 3 digs, 1/2 block;
Gabby Gray -- 25 kills, 6 digs, 1/2 block;
Ashleigh Cook -- 7 kills, 1 block;
Lexy Hellerstedt -- 5 kills, 3 digs.
BOYD-BUCHANAN STATS FOR BOTH MATCHES
Madison Balthrop -- 2 digs, 3 kills, 2 assists;
Abbie Sewell -- 1 dig, 1 block;
Sarah Emrey -- 1 dig, 4 kills, 3 blocks;
Katie Delay -- 29 digs, 3 assists, 4 aces;
Asia Kirkman -- 6 digs, 11 kills, 3 aces;
Kristen Reynolds -- 7 digs, 9 kills, 1 assists, 6 aces;
Allie Ray -- 1 dig, 2 kills;
Halie Williamson -- 2 digs, 10 assists, 2 aces;
Sarah Keller -- 9 digs, 1 ace.
RED BANK STATS FOR BOTH MATCHES
Caitlyn Jenkins -- 7 digs, 2 kills
Allison Walker -- 8 kills
Rachel Thornbury -- 10 digs, 9 assists
Hannah Wilson -- 9 digs
Janie Smith -- 4 blocks
Jasmine Simpson -- 2 kills
Dani Usher -- 2 blocks
Megan Paradis -- 5 assists
Marjorie Smith -- 2 blocks, 6 kills.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)