After her team earned its 30th win of this high school season, Baylor volleyball coach Sarah Lail explained that having hitting depth and striving for a balanced attack has made her Lady Red Raiders so tough to defend. But on Tuesday at Baylor, GPS simply found Gabby Gray tough to defend.
Gray showed her hitting prowess by pacing the Lady Raiders with 11 kills and six aces as they defeated the Bruisers 3-0 in a Division II-AA East/Middle Region match. Set scores were 25-15, 25-14, 25-10.
"She's a new freshman," Lail said of Gray, who also contributed four digs. "She's definitely a great all-around player. She hits the ball hard. She's 6-foot. She's an explosive player. She's hard to stop. We're glad to have her."
Senior Olivia Berger led the Bruisers in kills with 10, but the difference is they rely much more on her than Baylor (30-6, 4-0) does on Gray. Lady Raiders senior Rachel Ford and Bruisers junior Angela Bonds were supportive at the net with seven kills apiece.
"They've got a real good hitter in Olivia Berger," Lail said. "Coming into the game our focus was on trying to stop her. She still played a great game."
The Lady Raiders never trailed in either of the first two sets, and the only ties in both were at 1. GPS (13-18, 1-3) twice led by as many as three in third set -- the last at 7-4 before Baylor scored the next seven points and ultimately 21 of the last 24.
"We didn't have any ball control," GPS coach Paul Brock said. "We didn't pass well. We didn't block well. I think we touched two balls. You can't do that against a good hitting team like Baylor.
"We knew we had some shortfalls we had to try and compensate for. We tried that. It didn't work. Baylor attacks well from the frontcourt, from the backcourt. A lot of teams aren't ready for a backcourt attack, like they are in college."
Another freshman, Lilly Turner, led Baylor with 14 digs, and sophomore Haven Bethune was the assists leader with 24.
Senior Kelby Crownover topped GPS with 18 digs, and Brock noted that some were spectacular. Junior Reagan Williams, who had surgery to remove a bone in her ankle in August, played for the first time this season and totaled a team-high nine assists to go with six digs and two kills.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
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.