After the first game in their Division II-AA East/Middle Region volleyball match Tuesday, things went in different directions for Baylor and GPS. That was a good sign only for the home team.
Host Baylor came back for a 3-1 victory over the Bruisers, winning 18-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-21.
The Lady Red Raiders never led in the first game but trailed only once in the second. That was 2-1, although they never led by more than four until the end.
The third game was close all the way to 15-15, but then Baylor (17-5, 4-0) scored four straight on the way to a decisive 7-1 run. GPS scored the first three points in the final game and had its fourth and last four-point lead at 12-8 before the Lady Raiders rallied.
"We had a couple of unforced errors that first game," Baylor coach Sarah Lail said. "We had to try to work through that and play it out. I'm extremely happy with the win. I think any time Baylor and GPS play in something there's going to be a lot more excitement around campus, but that's what makes it fun."
Lail said there was no tactical adjustment after losing the opening game, just better focus and execution.
"I think just the whole team played a little bit better," she said. "We started hitting because we were communicating better with our setters. We wanted to mix the ball around to different people."
Rachel Travis led Baylor's hitting with 13 kills, and Leah Helton and Nicole Sumida added 12 and 10. Travis and Sumida had 13 digs each.
Lindsey Yates totaled 18 assists, and her serving, which included a team-high five aces, was instrumental in a run of seven consecutive points in the clinching game beginning with the Lady Raiders trailing 16-14.
"We didn't play well," GPS coach Paul Brock said. "That first set is what we'd hoped for. Then Baylor stepped up and we stepped back. They didn't step up to the challenge. Again, playing at Baylor is tough.
"It was a learning experience. We've got a lot still to work on. We've got some young hitters, too, that are continuing to try to get their confidence."
Tory Kemp's all-around performance for GPS (15-6, 2-2) included 11 kills, three blocks, seven assists and 15 digs. Sadie Lett topped the Bruisers with 11 assists, and Kelby Crownover led with 18 digs.
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.