The Baylor volleyball team might have won its 16th straight meeting with rival Girls Preparatory School on Wednesday evening, but it didn't come without a fight.
After a drama free first set, the Bruisers battled point for point with the host Raiders. In the end, though, it was Baylor's overwhelming front line and ability to win big points that led to a three-set Division II-AA East victory 25-14, 25-23, and 25-21.
“I thought we did a good job of really attacking them on our serve and mixing up our offense,” said Baylor coach Sarah Lail.
“Tess Margio did a really good job on the right side to counteract what Elaine Redman was doing on the outside. We have to work on getting all six people doing their part together and do a better job of communicating and bringing flow to the game.”
Baylor (28-8, 4-2) played almost flawlessly in the first set, never allowing the Bruisers (20-13, 1-4) to score more than two points in a row on their way to an easy 1-0 lead. GPS was over-matched by Baylor's size, led by Redman and Tess Margio, who came up with big hit after big hit.
The second set was a completely different story. The Raiders jumped out to an early three-point advantage as it appeared to be more of the same story as the opening set. GPS, led by Preslee Brooksbank, fired back though.
The Bruisers stayed within two or three points for the majority of the set, and tied it up twice. Up 16-14, the Raiders scored six of the next seven points to take what seemed like a comfortable seven point lead as they neared set point. GPS wouldn't go quietly, however, as they fought back to just a one-point deficit at 24-23. Again, it was Redman with the huge kill to end the set and give Baylor a 2-0 lead.
“Big time players, when the game is on the line, they're the ones that say 'Give me the ball,'” Lail said. “That's the kind of mentality she (Redman) has, and you need one of those types of players on your team. Brooksbank is that for GPS; when she gets on a roll then she's hard to stop too. It's really fun to watch those types of players play up to their ability.”
GPS maintained their energy in the third set, where they took an early 5-1 lead, much to the excitement of the visiting crowd. Baylor seized the lead with six straight points to go up 11-7, and much like the second set, held the Bruisers at bay throughout the remainder of the match.
“I'm just so proud of our girls tonight,” said GPS coach Jasmine Bravo-Brown. “Players like Preslee and Chapel (Cunningham) have been laying it all out and leaving their hearts on the court all season and that's what they did tonight. We have to work to maintain a high level of volleyball for a longer period of time. Baylor is a really good volleyball team, and we competed well with them. It is not out of our reach to expect to come in here and take sets and win matches like these.”
Redman led the way throughout for the Raiders. Not only was her power evident, but she played with savvy and finesse when it was needed, several times taking a softer approach and guiding the ball gently to an open area of the court and out of reach of the GPS back line.
Redman finished with 14 kills, 15 assists, and eight digs. Julia Hartman had 13 digs, LK May had nine, and Emma Gray and Elli Kenney had eight each. Libby May had 14 assists and seven digs, while Holland Moss contributed five kills and two blocks.
For GPS, Brooksbank had 12 kills and 16 digs, while Chapel Cunningham finished with four kills, seven assists, and nine digs. Faith Copeland tallied 13 assists, nine digs, and three kills, and Ansley Blevins chipped in four kills, and Isabella Jenkins led all players with three blocks. Kylie Barry had nine digs and Reagan Ziegler had seven.
GPS has a big region match at home tomorrow versus Chattanooga Christian School, while Baylor's regular season is complete. The Raiders have clinched second place and will play the second place team from the Division II-AA Middle region next week.
BAYLOR 3, GPS 0
Baylor 25 25 25
GPS 14 23 21
Highlights: B — Elaine Redman 14 k, 15 a, 8 d; Libby May 14 a, 7 d; Holland Moss 5 k, 2 b; Julia Hartman 13 d; LK May 9 d; Emma Gray 8 d; Elli Kenney 8 d. GPS — Preslee Brooksbanks 12 k, 16 d; Chapel Cunningham 4 k, 7 a, 9 d; Faith Copeland 13 a, 9 d, 3 k; Ansley Blevins 4 k, 3 d; Isabella Jenkins 3 b; Kylie Barry 9 d; Reagan Ziegler 7 d.
(Email Kevin Llewallyn at firstname.lastname@example.org)