BAXTER — Seniors Jordynn Wesselink and Sailor Hinegardner both admitted it took a while for the Baxter volleyball team to get on its feet.
There were some new players being worked into the fold and the entire roster was getting used to each other.
With the season more than half over and the postseason looming next month, the Bolts are on an uptick.
Baxter won its second straight Iowa Star Conference South Division match and claimed its third win in four matches total after a three-game sweep of Colo-NESCO on Thursday.
Wesselink and Hinegardner both played significant roles on Senior Night as the Bolts defeated the Royals 25-15, 25-15, 25-23.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, but I think we are starting to play like we know we can,” said Wesselink, who finished with 11 kills, 17 digs and two aces. “The first couple of games, we didn’t know each other that well on the court, but we’ve definitely figured out what we can all do and are starting to come together.”
On their night, the seniors were important to the victory. Hinegardner collected 10 digs and was 7-of-7 in serves. Mary Schabilion tallied four kills, nine digs and was 17-of-17 in serves. The other senior, Lexi Ewing, finished with two assists and was 5-of-5 in serves.
The win improved the Bolts to 8-6 overall and 4-1 in ISC South Division play. Colo-NESCO fell to 5-12 overall and 4-2 in league play.
“We are starting to learn each other’s habits now and starting to figure things out,” Hinegardner said.
After falling behind 2-0 in the first set, the Bolts turned the tables and led throughout after scoring six straight points.
The Royals got within 15-13, but a long service run by Schabilion pushed the Bolts’ lead to 20-13. During that 5-0 run, Wesselink had three kills and Schabilion served up her only ace of the match.
The Bolts scored five of the final seven points. Sophomore Amber Weltha got on track on the front row, finishing the set with three straight kills.
“A lot of times we are just dynamite. Then other times we aren’t,” Baxter coach Scott Ranck said. “It’s starting to come together now though, which is good to see. We are working to get things on track.”
Weltha led the Bolts with 14 kills on the night. She’s getting better with each match, and that only helps Baxter’s offensive production, according to Wesselink.
“It’s been huge for us. When I go to the back row, I have total confidence in her that she can get us points up there,” Wesselink said. “We don’t change much as a team when she’s up front and I’m in the back.”
Colo-NESCO jumped out to an 8-2 lead in the second set. The Bolts chipped away at their deficit in large part because junior Sydney Schmidt served up three straight aces. Schmidt was 11-of-12 in serves with six aces on the night.
The Royals maintained their lead until a late run shifted momentum back to the hosts. Trailing 15-14, Baxter rolled off 11 straight points to go up 2-0 in the match. Weltha had four kills during that stretch, and sophomore Bekka Watt collected a pair of kills.
“She’s still learning how to go faster and be more aggressive. But she’s coming around. It’s starting to click a little bit,” Ranck said of Weltha.
“We’ve down like that before. We’ve come back before. We weren’t doing that early in the year, but they are learning to fight through it. You go to 25. You can’t go into panic mode.”
In the most competitive set of the night, Colo-NESCO led 5-1 early in the third game. Baxter came all the way back, but the set remained close throughout. The Royals led 17-13 at one point before the Bolts rallied to win by two.
The Bolts missed only four serves on the night. They were 69-of-73 with 10 aces.
“We placed it well tonight. We kept them off balance. That gave us an advantage,” Ranck said. “You have to live with some of the serves that don’t get in. In the long run, it pays off.”
Watt finished with five kills and five digs and she was 7-of-7 in serves. Freshman Sophie Meyer also had five digs.
The Bolts play at 8 a.m. on Saturday in the Madrid tournament. Their pool includes Class 2A No. 15 Van Meter (12-3), 3A West Marshall (18-8) and Ankeny Christian Academy (8-10).