It’s been at least five years since Baylor lost a volleyball match to arch-rival GPS, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fierce battle every time these two meet in regular-season competition.
Such was the case at GPS Wednesday evening.
The Lady Red Raiders prevailed in three straight sets by scores of 25-23, 25-17 and 25-17, but it was a battle from start to finish as Baylor improved to 11-1 with its seventh straight win of the season.
GPS is now 7-6.
As is always the case when these two teams meet in any sport, there was an incredible amount on school spirit displayed on both sides. It was loud and proud for both schools for a while, but the cheering had become all but one-sided by the end of the match.
“I’ll take it,” said Baylor coach Sarah Lail moments after the final point had been scored.
“It’s always fun coming her for a volleyball match as it was a great environment for both teams. I’m really proud of the way we played as we were balanced on offense and I felt like our defense played well. We were able to pick up some big hits from Preslee Brooksbank, who is an incredible competitor and really fun to watch.
“We can be more in system than we were, but we just need to enjoy this win. I just hope that 20 years from now, these girls can look back with positive memories of their matches with GPS,” Lail added.
Sierra Herndon, Elli Kinney and Tess Margio all played vital roles in Baylor’s win with their play up front, but nobody was any more impressive than Elaine Redman, a slender 16-year-old junior who recorded another triple-double with 11 kills, 13 assists and 10 digs. She also had an ace and two blocks.
It seemed like every time the Baylor girls needed a key hit for a big point, Redman was there to provide it.
“That was a good win with a great team effort,” the daughter of Jennifer and Steve Redman said after the match had ended.
“I feel like I struggled at times, but my teammates were behind me and they all played awesome. Our defense was really good as it seemed like nothing hit the floor. But it’s always nice to win in this gym,” she added.
The Bruisers are much improved from a year ago. They’ve gotten into a bad habit of starting slow and trying to come back, but they got off to a fast start in all three sets and really made the Baylor girls work for every point they scored.
Coach Jasmine Brown liked what she saw for the most part.
“We started out strong and that’s an improvement for us,” she began.
“We hit the ground running today and played well for the most part. Baylor has some really strong hitters and they force you to play defense. Preslee Brooksbank and Chapel Cunningham were both consistent, but we could have played better.
“I think we got discouraged toward the end and lost some of our focus, but these girls have a lot of heart and drive. We just have to learn how to finish,” Brown nodded.
As the scores might indicate, the first set was the best of the three as there were 11 ties and seven lead changes. The score was deadlocked for the last time at 22-22 with GPS having its last lead at 23-22. Baylor then took the early lead with the last three points.
Four straight service points from Kylie Barry allowed the Bruisers to take a 6-3 in the second set. Brooksbank had back-to-back kills to give GPS a 13-10 lead.
It was still 16-14 when Margio had a kill and a block to knot the score, setting the stage for senior Julia Hartman, who had eight straight service points for a commanding 22-16 lead following a kill from Herndon.
That set never got any closer as Kinney and Holland Moss had back-to-back kills to give the visitors a 2-0 lead.
Baylor never trailed in the final set as a 5-1 lead stretched to 14-5 before GPS had a brief rally with a kill from Isabella Jenkins, two kills from Brooksbank and an ace from Faith Copeland to get within 14-9.
It never got any closer as Baylor slowly pulled away for the win.
While Redman was doing her thing in leading the winning Baylor girls, Kinney and Margio both had six kills and Herndon five to set the pace up front. Kinney also had nine digs while Emma Gray, Libby May and Laura Kate May all followed with eight digs apiece.
Margio and Herndon also had five and four blocks, respectively.
Brooksbank had 11 kills and 14 digs for the Bruisers. Copeland had 25 assists and 11 digs while Cunningham finished with eight kills and seven digs.
Emma Gray – 1 ace, 2 assists, 8 digs
Julia Hartman – 1 kill, 6 digs
Sierra Herndon – 5 kills, 4 blocks
Elli Kinney – 1 ace, 6 kills, 1 block, 9 digs
Tess Margio – 6 kills, 5 blocks
Libby May – 8 assists, 8 digs
Laura Kate May – 3 assists, 8 digs
Holland Moss – 3 kills, 1 block
Elaine Redman – 1 ace, 11 kills, 13 assists, 10 digs, 2 blocks.
Kylie Barry – 9 digs, 2 aces
Ansley Blevins – 3 kills, 3 blocks, 1 dig
Preslee Brooksbank – 11 kills, 14 digs, 1 ace
Faith Copeland – 25 assists, 11 digs, 2 aces
Chapel Cunningham – 8 kills, 7 digs
Aubrey Holloway – 2 digs
Isabella Jenkins – 3 kills, 1 block, 2 digs
Claire Nicola – 3 kills
Abbie Reel – 2 digs.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)