MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The Baylor volleyball team didn’t have an answer for the Briarcrest Saints here at Siegel High School Wednesday afternoon, but they avoided elimination with a nice comeback win later in the day over Harpeth Hall.
Baylor lost to the Saints for the second time this season here in the winners’ bracket final of the Division II, Class AA state tournament.
The first two sets were really close with Briarcrest winning the first by a 26-24 final before Baylor evened the score with a 25-23 victory in the second set. It wasn’t close after that as the girls from Memphis advanced to Thursday’s championship with back-to-back 25-14 wins.
Briarcrest improves to 39-2 with the win while Baylor falls to 35-10.
While the day didn’t start off so great for the Lady Red Raiders, it finished on a positive note as Baylor stayed alive with a 3-1 win over Harpeth Hall. The Honey Bears won the first set by 25-23 before Baylor rallied to win the last three by scores of 25-15, 26-24 and 26-24.
Baylor coach Sarah Lail always does her homework in preparation for matches like this. Her game plan worked pretty well for the first half of the match, but not so much for the second half.
“We came out strong for the first two sets, but we lost our confidence in the third and fourth,” Lail said after the Briarcrest match while catching her breath outside the Siegel gym where it was much quieter and cooler.
“We started playing as individuals and not as a team and that hurt, but Briarcrest is a great team. They put a lot of pressure on us and we didn’t respond. We let up and they didn’t. Right now we need to find each other because we normally play well together.
“We did find out that we could compete with them, but we just made too many errors. You can’t do that against a great team like Briarcrest. We’re hoping to regroup and get another shot at them,” the veteran Baylor coach nodded.
Lail had a much different outlook following the match with the Honey Bears.
“That was awesome and a great example of what team volleyball looks like,” she said after the final point had been scored.
“To come from behind like that was unbelievable. We were down 24-18 in the third set and put a freshman on the service line. Emoree Rogers did a great job and the team did a wonderful job of defending behind her. That was the turning point of the match.
“We’re so blessed to have another opportunity against Briarcrest and I’m so happy we get to play at MTSU tomorrow. Our season is still alive. I just hope this team shows up tomorrow because if they do, we have a chance,” she concluded.
Briarcrest coach Carrie Yerty felt like aggressive serves by her team was the difference.
“Baylor is an amazing team who has great coaching and outstanding players. It’s always a blood bath when we play them,” Yerty said before heading out to enjoy the rest of the day without any more volleyball to play.
“We served aggressive today and took them out of system. That was a key for us as they couldn’t recover. Our serving kept them out of system, but I’m sure they’ll be back. We know from previous experience that Baylor can strike back in a hurry, but I thought we played well today.
“We executed well in tough situations and I’m extremely proud of that,” she added.
There were seven ties in the first set, Baylor bouncing back from a 16-10 deficit to knot the score at 20-20 on a kill from Elizabeth Case. A kill from Alyiah Wells knotted the score at 24-24 for Briarcrest before the Lady Saints claimed the first set a minute later on a kill from Aziah Buckner.
The set was equally as close with nine ties, the last being at 21-21 following a block from Baylor’s Sarah Barker.
A kill from Denver Rogers and an ace from Emoree Rogers gave Baylor a 23-21 lead and the difference was 24-22 following another kill from Barker.
Loren Robertson kept the Saints alive with a kill for Briarcrest before a block from Barker evened the score at one set apiece.
The third set was tied at 1-1 and 2-2 before the Saints got eight straight service points from Robertson to take a 10-2 lead. It never got any closer than 11-6.
The fourth set was similar to the third as six straight service points from Rachel Sullivan put the Memphis girls ahead 11-3 and Baylor never recovered.
Back-to-back kills from Buckner and Chloe Bryan allowed the Saints to advance.
Rogers had 13 kills and 11 digs to lead Baylor while Craig had 11 kills. Hayden Barton had nine digs while Elaine Redman finished with 40 assists.
In the match with Harpeth Hall, Baylor led only twice in the first set as the Honey Bears controlled the tempo. A block from Jamison White gave the girls from Nashville the early 1-0 lead.
Baylor played much better in the second as the Lady Raiders were the dominant team this time. Six straight service points from Denver Rogers turned a 12-9 deficit into a 15-12 lead and the Lady Raiders finished the set on a 16-3 run. Redman had the final seven service points.
It looked like Harpeth Hall might regain the advantage in that pivotal third set when they were at set point with a six-point lead, but the Baylor girls refused to surrender and they were rewarded with a huge comeback win.
Harpeth Hall stayed close in the fourth set and led 24-23 following a Baylor service error, but the Honey Bears never scored another point as Denver Rogers had two kills and Barker one to wrap up the match.
Craig had 21 kills and 10 digs in the win over Harpeth Hall while Denver Rogers followed with 17 kills. Redman finished the match with 60 assists and 13 digs. She now has 160 assists in the last three matches.
BAYLOR STATS VS. HARPETH HALL:
Sarah Barker – 11 kills, 4 blocks
Elizabeth Case – 5 kills, 1 block, 4 digs
Hayden Barton – 1 ace, 2 assists, 13 digs
Ally Craig – 21 kills, 1 block, 10 digs
Laura Kate May – 4 digs
Denver Rogers – 2 aces, 17 kills, 1 block, 6 digs
Emoree Rogers – 2 aces, 1 assist, 2 digs
Elaine Redman – 2 aces, 5 kills, 60 assists, 2 blocks, 13 digs
Sierra Herndon – 4 kills.
BAYLOR STATS VS. BRIARCREST:
Sarah Buckner – 5 kills, 4 blocks, 1 dig
Elizabeth Case – 2 kills, 2 blocks, 5 digs
Hayden Barton – 9 digs
Ally Craig – 11 kills, 3 blocks, 3 digs
Denver Rogers – 13 kills, 3 blocks, 11 digs
Emoree Rogers – 1 ace, 5 digs
Elaine Redman – 2 aces, 4 kills, 40 assists, 7 digs
Sierra Herndon – 5 kills, 3 blocks, 1 dig.
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)