Baylor's Rachel Travis said she's now about 75 or 80 percent recovered from the sprained ankle she suffered Sept. 10. And that's been 100 percent bad news for the Lady Red Raiders' last six volleyball opponents.
The sixth of those was Brentwood Academy on Saturday. The Lady Raiders, led by Travis's 20 kills, defeated the Lady Eagles 3-0 in a TSSAA Division II-AA sub-state match at Baylor.
Baylor (34-12) now moves on to Murfreesboro and the state tournament, which starts Wednesday. BA finished 18-21.
St. Agnes ended the season for GPS by winning 3-0 in a sub-state match at Memphis. Set scores were 25-16, 27-25, 25-22.
The scores in Baylor's victory were 25-17, 25-20, 25-12.
Travis rolled an ankle toward the end of practice the day before the Lady Raiders were scheduled to play at GPS in an East/Middle Region match in the regular season. She was out nearly three weeks.
"When the doctor said it was good enough to play," Travis said, "I said, 'I'll take it.'"
She and Baylor coach Sarah Lail said her near-three-week absence could turn out to be a blessing.
"With her out some other kids stepped up, and they're still playing at that level," Lail said.
But with Travis back in the lineup the Lady Raiders again feel like a state-championship contender.
"She's a competitor who's going to go all out," Lail said. "One of the big things about her is her passing ability throughout the rotation. She helps with ball-control and passing in addition to being explosive and being able to pick apart the defense. She kind of beats teams down.
"It's been great having her at Baylor the past five years. She's definitely going to be missed after this season."
Madeline Rose supported Travis at the net with 13 kills and contributed eight digs along with Rachel Ford and Haven Bethune. Macall Nabors paced the Lady Raiders with nine digs. Megan Kaylor led with 29 assists, and she and Travis each served three aces.
"I think we're getting it together well," Travis said. "We've been through a tough time with me out. No matter the score we're digging deep and pressing on. I do think we're playing our best volleyball. I'm excited, very excited.
"We're on a high right now."
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.