Youthful squad rallies to beat Bonner Springs
BASEHOR -- Most teams have good and bad moments during their first contests of a season and the Baldwin High School volleyball team is no exception.
To begin their 2007 campaign, the Bulldogs (1-2) almost won two of their three matches, but also almost lost all three here Tuesday. It was that up and down of a night for the youthful BHS squad.
"We came out well," coach Kelly Brown said. "We've got a few young girls that are still learning the game. The speed of varsity is a lot different than what half of this team has played. By the end of the night, they finally adjusted. I saw some good things offensively and some great things defensively. We did some great things, but for more than half of this team, this is a brand-new experience."
Senior Ashley Tucker agreed with her coach, saying the Bulldogs were too inconsistent Tuesday.
"I think we played really well," Tucker said. "We had some bad moments, but we played well. The scores didn't reflect that too well, though."
The Bulldogs have four seniors, five juniors, one sophomore and two freshmen on the varsity roster. One key player, senior setter Alex Bergan, was missing Tuesday as illness kept her away from the court.
"Alex is our starting setter and not having her hurt," Tucker said. "We knew she wasn't going to play, but it still had an impact on us."
Bergan's loss forced the Bulldogs to use other setters throughout the night, including freshman Ramie Burkhart. Brown said Burkhart improved throughout the night, but struggled at times because of her lack of varsity experience.
"Ramie stepped up as a freshman setter and set in a varsity game," Brown said. "That is a lot of pressure. She adjusted as the night went on and did well."
The Bulldogs' only victory on the night came against Bonner Springs, but it didn't come easily. Baldwin jumped ahead early in the first game and cruised to victory, 25-21.
However, the second game was nearly the opposite. Bonner Springs led 19-10 before an 8-0 Bulldog run. BHS could never get the lead and lost 25-21, forcing a third and deciding game.
In the final game Bonner Springs led 24-18, just one point from wrapping up the match. With strong serving and an intense effort, the Bulldogs came charging back to tie the score at 24-24. A few points later Baldwin sealed the match by winning the game 28-26.
"Bonner got a little bit ugly for us on the court," Brown said. "The girls lost their momentum after they lost to Basehor. They put all of their heart into that first game and then lost their momentum. They showed a lot of heart to battle back, but it's also a match where we shouldn't have been in the third game situation. That's what we had to do to get out of it and they did it well."
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, that was their only victory of the night. They came close to winning their first match against host Basehor-Linwood.
Basehor won the first game 25-12, but BHS rallied back to win the next one 25-20. Both teams remained close during the third game, but Basehor edged out Baldwin 25-21.
"We should have won that match," Tucker said. "They are a good team, but we played with them really well."
In their final match of the night, Baldwin faced defending Class 4A state champion Eudora. BHS stayed close in the first game with its defense, but eventually lost 25-16.
The Bulldogs also lost the second game 15-11 to finish the night.
"The defense was great in the first game," Brown said. "Eudora is very well coached and they were putting the ball where we weren't and with the youth on our team, we weren't quite ready for that."
During Tuesday's matches, Brown saw several areas where her teams needs to improve. They have until next Wednesday before they play again, which will give the Bulldogs time to get healthy and improve in certain areas.
"A lot of it will be setting," Brown said. "Our hitters didn't get a lot of good swings in tonight. I've got a lot of good young hitters that are swinging."
Tucker said the Bulldogs need to work on communicating a lot better on the court.
"We need to work on our talking," Tucker said. "We need to be more consistent with that, because there are times when we talk and other times where we don't talk at all."
The Bulldogs' next play at 4:30 p.m Wednesday in Tonganoxie.