MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Baylor and Briarcrest have played in the last three Division II, Class AA state volleyball championship matches and the Lady Saints have now won two, including Thursday’s 3-1 victory at MTSU’s Murphy Center.
The Lady Saints have an outstanding team with a roster of outstanding players. The same can be said for the Lady Red Raiders, but Briarcrest was the better team in 2018 with Thursday’s win being the third of the season over Baylor, including twice in the last two days.
Baylor came out clicking on all cylinders and played near-perfect volleyball as they claimed the first set by a 25-17 final.
The Lady Saints made a few adjustments that paid off as they won the last three by scores of 25-15, 25-20 and 25-19.
Briarcrest improved to a 40-2 with the win while Baylor’s season ends at 36-11.
Sarah Lail was as disappointed as anyone when the final verdict had been decided.
“That was a great match against a great team,” she began while chatting with parents and other Baylor supporters on the upper level of Murphy Center following the match.
“I thought we had a good game plan as we showed them some different looks from yesterday, but they served tougher and did a nice job of blocking our outside hitters. That doesn’t make it hurt any less.
“I’m sad for our five seniors, who have poured out their hearts for Baylor volleyball and have been in the championship match three of the past four years. We’re losing some great players, but we also have some really good ones coming back. I just hope we’re proud of the way we played today because we don’t have anything to hang our heads about,” Lail added.
Briarcrest coach Carrie Yerty was an extremely happy young lady after all was said and done, but why not as she has a great team who rose to the occasion in their biggest tournament of the season.
“We’ve had the best team in the state all year, but to be able to beat Baylor three times is just unbelievable,” she expressed after senior Alyiah Wells had been named MVP for the Lady Saints.
“We were a little bit tight in that first set, but we came back and settled in. Our four seniors played their hearts out, but when we needed a point, we were able to get a block as we were successful in shutting down their offense.
“These girls did a great job of executing our game plan and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” she added.
The score was tied four times in the first set and there were two lead changes.
Baylor grabbed the upper hand for the last time on a hitting error by the Lady Saints for a 7-6 lead. Three more service points from Elaine Redman extended the lead to 10-6 and the difference was never any closer than four points the rest of the set.
Denver Rogers ended the first set with one of her match-high 17 kills.
Sarah Barker had a kill to start the second set for Baylor before Briarcrest scored the next five points. The difference was 8-2 when Baylor called its first timeout, but that didn’t seem to change anything as Briarcrest kept scoring.
The biggest difference was 12 points at 22-10 on a kill from Aziah Buckner and she evened the score with another kill a minute later.
Briarcrest built a 6-2 lead in the third set before Baylor took the lead by scoring nine of the next 10 points. The Lady Saints evened the score at 13 before taking the lead for the last time on back-to-back kills from Wells. The Lady Saints never looked back as they won the third set to swing the momentum their way.
Briarcrest scored the first three points of the fourth set and never trailed.
Baylor got within 19-17 on a kill from Craig, but the Lady Saints answered with a kill from Madison Spiva. Craig had her final kill to make it 20-18 before the Lady Saints won the match by scoring five of the final six points.
Buckner and Wells both had 17 kills to lead Briarcrest while Rogers had 17 kills for Baylor.
Loren Robertson had 48 assists and 17 digs for the Lady Saints while Elaine Redman had 37 assists and Craig 18 digs for Baylor.
Baylor had beaten Briarcrest 3-1 in last year’s championship.
Sarah Barker – 1 kill, 6 blocks
Elizabeth Case – 5 kills, 1 assist, 5 digs, 1 block
Ally Craig – 14 kills, 1 assist, 18 digs, 1 ace, 1 block
Laura Kate May – 8 digs
Denver Rogers – 17 kills, 1 assist, 1 ace, 12 digs, 2 blocks
Elaine Redman – 2 kills, 37 assists, 10 digs, 2 blocks
Hayden Barton – 2 assists, 2 aces, 16 digs
Sierra Herndon – 5 kills, 1 block.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)