MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Baylor's Lady Red Raiders have the opportunity today to compete for the third TSSAA state volleyball championship in program history.
The Lady Raiders defeated St. Agnes 3-1 on Thursday at Stewarts Creek High School in a Division II-AA semifinal.
Baylor (41-7) will play St. Agnes again today at Middle Tennessee State University's Murphy Center for the championship. The Stars beat Ensworth 3-2 (25-15, 25-18, 21-25, 25-16) in the losers-bracket final.
Two points to the Lady Raiders' good is all that separated them from St. Agnes for the day. Baylor won the first two sets 25-23 before dropping the third 21-25, then coming back to win 25-23 again.
"We definitely knew it was going to be two quality teams," Baylor coach Sarah Lail said. "It's what you expect at this level of play. A lot of credit goes to our girls for the way they kept fighting."
Lail said her players did a good job of putting the third set behind them quickly.
"We just had to take the fourth set," Lail said. "I said, 'We've got to try and finish it now.' If it gets to the fifth set, it's anyone's battle.
"The girls began passing and blocking well again and stayed on their big hitters. I told them to stay aggressive. The only way to win is be aggressive."
Rachel Ford led Baylor's hitting with 19 kills, Gabby Gray adding 17. Jane Wilson scored with eight blocks. Lilly Turner led with 20 digs and four aces, and Haven Bethune set 39 assists.
Ooltewah's season came to an end Thursday at the hands of Dobyns-Bennett in the Class AAA state tournament at Siegel. The Lady Indians won 3-0 by set scores of 25-19, 25-20, 26-24.
"All three games we started off in the negative," Ooltewah coach Elaine Peigen said. "We couldn't get out of the hole. We just waited too late to start playing ball."
Courtlyn Ison and Sloan Sullivan each had eight kills for the Lady Owls (45-12), and Sidney Killingsworth and Alex Biro contributed seven apiece. Ison also led with six blocks and Sullivan was the digs leader with 15. Hanna Matthews had 27 assists and Summer Williams served three aces.
"I told the girls this has been a wonderful year," Peigen said. "A lot of kids don't get to experience this. I told them, 'Don't hang your head. It just didn't work out our way.'"
Lady Bucs done
Boyd-Buchanan outscored Loretto 107-88 in their Class A state-tournament losers-bracket game Thursday at Stewarts Creek, but the Lady Mustangs scored when it counted most.
The set scores in Loretto's 3-2 victory over the Lady Buccaneers were 12-25, 26-24, 10-25, 25-20, 15-13.
Asia Kirkman and Kristen Reynolds each had 16 kills for the Lady Bucs (31-15). Reynolds also had five aces, and her 22 assists were second to Halie Williamson's 24. Katie Delay made 47 digs and served four aces.
"Obviously we would've wanted the outcome to be different, but I'm happy," Boyd-Buchanan coach Ashley Rose said. "When we lost to CSAS early in the year, I thought this was the textbook definition of a rebuilding team -- young kids, nervous, didn't know what to do in big situations. I wasn't sure we could get to the state tournament, but they proved me wrong. I think the ones who aren't seniors learned a lot about what it takes and will carry that over into next year."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.