Third-place finishes and painful memories are all Baylor's Lady Red Raiders have brought back from the last two TSSAA volleyball tournaments. There may not be much they can do about erasing any remembrances, but thanks to Saturday's sub-state results at Baylor, they have another chance to do something about their finish.
Baylor defeated Hutchison 3-0 in what serves as the quarterfinal round of the Division II-AA state playoffs. Game scores were 26-24, 25-19, 25-19.
The Lady Raiders earned a trip back to Murfreesboro, where they'll be one of four teams competing for the state championship in their classification. The tournament takes place Wednesday through Friday at Middle Tennessee State University and Blackman and Siegel high schools.
Baylor (29-12), the No. 2-seeded team from the East/Middle Region in the state playoffs this year, had 2-0 leads over Ensworth last year and Father Ryan the year before before losing in the losers-bracket finals.
"I just hope we get to that final match," Baylor coach Sarah Lail said. "I know the competition is going to be tough."
The Sting proved to be tough competition in much of Saturday's match, first illustrated by the Lady Raiders needing more than 25 points to win the first set.
Baylor led 15-9 in the second game before Bess Nelson went on a serving binge that led to a run of eight consecutive points for Hutchison. The third was tight all the way, but once the Lady Raiders got up 18-15, they led by at least three the rest of way.
"I'm very happy with the way we played," Lail said. "I thought we played with a calm confidence throughout the match, even when they would go on runs. Momentum is huge in volleyball. In the beginning we missed some serves. We had some sub-state jitters and had to get those removed.
"We just kept with our game plan. During a timeout in the third game we asked them to step it up a notch and play like it was the first game. We did not want to get too confident with a 2-0 lead."
Rachel Travis led Baylor's hitting with 12 kills. Nicole Sumida, who led with eight digs, added 10 kills. Lindsey Yates and Megan Kaylor had 13 and 11 assists, respectively, and Kaylor and Braleigh Angel each served two aces.
n St. Benedict 3, GPS 2: At Memphis, the Bruisers fell short in their quest to reach the state tournament, despite scoring more points than the Eagles. Game scores were 25-23, 28-26, 24-26, 14-25, 17-15.
"We made some service errors in the last game and still almost won," GPS coach Paul Brock said. "You can't miss five serves in a game to 15 and expect to win."
Actually 15 didn't prove to be enough in the tiebreaking set. It almost was, but the Bruisers fought off two consecutive match points -- the first at 14-12.
GPS (35-18) rallied from significant deficits in the first two games, only to come away with losses. The Bruisers let down some with a lead but held on to win the third, then got up 22-10 and cruised to victory in the fourth.
"It's been a great year," Brock said. "We won the Choo Choo tournament, which had a lot of the teams going to the state tournament in it. That tells you what we were capable of. We showed moments of greatness."
Tory Kemp gave another dominating performance with 24 kills, 22 assists, 15 digs, five blocks and two aces. Sadie Lett's offerings included 18 kills and 25 assists. Brock praised the net contributions by Jeneh Perry (five kills and six blocks) and credited Mary Margaret Taylor, who made seven digs, for helping settle some ball-control issues.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.