Baylor tried a new lineup in its TSSAA Division II-AA East/Middle Region volleyball match at GPS. It had nothing to do with strategy and everything to do with necessity.
GPS took advantage of the Lady Red Raiders being short an all-state outside hitter Tuesday and defeated Baylor 3-0. Set scores were 25-17, 26-24, 25-23.
The Lady Raiders were about to end practice Monday when Rachel Travis landed on top of a teammate and sprained her left ankle. She saw a doctor Tuesday morning and was in a walking boot and on crutches at the match.
"I did the same thing in June on the same court," Travis said. "They believe I restretched the ligament. There's no tear or no break."
Baylor coach Sarah Lail moved Lexy Hellerstedt into the starting lineup, but because the injury occurred in the final minnutes of practice, the Lady Raiders had no previous practice time with their new set-up.
"She's in every play offensively, defensively and in service," Lail said of Travis. "It definitely showed. I'm proud of our girls. They hung in there against a strong GPS team."
The Bruisers have an all-state player of their own in Sadie Lett, who topped them with 16 kills and contributed 13 assists and 11 digs. Kelby Crownover led with 22 digs, Reagan Williams led with 20 assists and Olivia Berger led with four aces. Berger also had nine kills, and Destinee Landsden chipped in with seven.
Rachel Ford's eight kills paced Baylor (20-8, 2-2), and Madeline Rose and Hellerstedt added four each. Megan Kaylor had 17 assists to go with seven digs, three aces and two kills, and Macall Nabors led in digs with 13.
"Madeline and Rachel Ford had good games, and Megan is such a good setter," GPS coach Paul Brock said. "They were able to keep us off guard whether they had Rachel or not. Their ball control is super. Our power game was going to have to be on. There were spells where they took over with their ball control."
The first set was an indicator of how tight things would be. Baylor at 8-6 was the first to lead by more than one. The first lead greater than two was GPS at 16-13.
Eventually the Bruisers ran off seven consecutive to get to game point. The other sets stayed close to the end.
"Our girls served smart and made them struggle with their passing game," Brock said. "I think Baylor stepped up, though, without Rachel Travis. I think you could cut the legs off all these girls out here and it still would be a good match between these two. They all seem to rise to the occasion."
Despite Travis being a formidable hitter, Lail said passing was the area where the team missed her most.
"We had some passing breakdowns trying to get it to our hitters," Lail said. "We gave them too many easy ones, and you can't do that."
Travis isn't expected to be able to walk without the boot for another two or three weeks but is hopeful of being able to return in time for the rematch against GPS (12-5, 3-1) on Oct. 10. The Division II-AA state playoffs begin Oct. 13.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653.
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.