Baldwin volleyball team claims Frontier League Tournament crown
De Soto — The Baldwin High School volleyball team got revenge Saturday while dominating the Frontier League Invitation Tournament.
The Bulldogs didn’t lose a set in five matches as they compiled a perfect 3-0 record in pool play and then defeated Basehor-Linwood and Paola in the tournament round to win the tournament crown.
Basehor Linwood was invited to the event to round up the seven-school league to eight teams. The Bobcats were also the only team to beat Baldwin on the young season when they won the three-set opening-season match for both teams at a Sept. 3 quad in Eudora.
“The girls wanted to play them again,” Baldwin coach Jill Brown said. “Nothing against Basehor Linwood, but we did not play well against them the first time out.”
There were no such lapses Saturday. Baldwin finished pool undefeated Saturday with a 6-0 set record. That earned the team the No. 1 seeding in the tournament round above Louisburg, which also was undefeated in three pool matches but had a 6-1 set record.
Brown said the team played with confidence from the start. There were times when opponents went on runs, but each time the Bulldogs were able to regroup and finish off the set, she said.
Baldwin overcame runs against Basehor Linwood in the semi-finals and in the championship match against Paola. The Panthers, who lost to Baldwin in pool play, defeated Louisburg in the tournament’s semi-finals to set up the rematch with the Bulldogs.
Baldwin had little trouble in the first set, downing Paola 25-20. Three early service miscues in the second set helped Panthers build leads of 13-9 and 14-10 in before two-straight sustained rallies with Madeline McCrary and Jordan Hoffman serving allowed the Bulldogs to take the lead 16-15. Baldwin cruised from that point, winning the set 25-19.
The team used its strength at the net to claim to the tourney title. Brown said the Bulldogs finished the day with a .542 hitting efficiency.
“Teams usually strive to hit .250,” Brown said. “Clearly, we had an excellent day attacking the ball. Obviously, in order to attain such a high hitting efficiency, we passed the ball extremely well. Our primary passers as well as our defensive specialists, Madeline McCrary and Jenna Irey, did a great job throughout the day.”
Junior Jordan Hoffman led the way for the Bulldogs up front with 49 kills with a .535 hitting efficiency, Brown said. Junior Alexia Stein finished with 28 kills and a .564 hitting efficiency, and senior Morgan Lober had 21 kills with a eye-popping .654 hitting efficiency.
Junior Corey Valentine had 86 assists on the day, and senior Madeline McCrary served seven aces while getting 22 digs.
There was one area of concern. The Bulldogs won the tournament despite service errors, such as those that slowed the team early in the second set of the championship match against Paola.
“On the varsity level, you have to be aggressive with the serve and use it as a weapon, but we had far too many errors compared to our aces,” Brown said. “I feel like serving is usually a strength of ours, but for some reason yesterday that wasn’t the case. There are a couple of rotations where we usually score quite a few points, but yesterday during those rotations we were missing our serves. That’s something we will focus on this week.”
Baldwin will play at home Tuesday against league foe Spring Hill, meet Tonganoxie for a non-league match Thursday and host the Baldwin Invitation Tournament Saturday at the Baldwin Junor High School Gymnasium.