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Jasper County Tribune

Baxter netters lose to L-S, sweep Blue Devils

Baxter junior Amber Weltha (left) goes up for a block against Lynnville-Sully. Weltha had a school-record 21 kills, but the Bolts lost to the Hawks in five sets.
Baxter junior Amber Weltha (left) goes up for a block against Lynnville-Sully. Weltha had a school-record 21 kills, but the Bolts lost to the Hawks in five sets.

BAXTER — Lynnville-Sully volleyball coach Jayme Deal is not a yeller. She doesn’t motivate her players by screaming at them when things go sideways.

But a tense huddle after the Hawks fell behind to Baxter on Aug. 28 was needed. Deal’s choice words to her team helped Lynnville-Sully rally past the Bolts on the road at Baxter High School.

Lynnville-Sully opened the night with a win in the first set but lost the next two before rallying. The Hawks dropped the Bolts 25-20, 15-25, 21-25, 25-21, 15-12 in a matchup of very even teams.

“There are times when being a coach is hard, and you have to be tough on your athletes,” Deal said about the conversation she had with her team after the third-set loss. “This was one of those times. I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I know I was hard on them and to the point about what needed to be done.”

Whatever Deal said appeared to work. At least on the scoreboard.

At the other end of the floor, Baxter played well at times, but again, struggled with serve receive.

“That caught up to us a little bit. We have some dynamic hitters, but we have to be able to get them the ball consistently,” Baxter coach Scott Ranck said. “The ball just didn’t bounce our way tonight. It was a fun match to watch. The girls are disappointed that they lost, but they felt good about how they played and the effort they played with.”

The Hawks opened the first set by jumping out to a 5-0 lead. The lead stayed at five points until two kills by senior Carson Fisk and another by sophomore Korinne Jansen made it 14-6.

The Bolts (3-2) got back-to-back aces from sophomore Hallee Rainsbarger to get within six, but another mini 4-0 run by L-S made it 19-9.

The closest Baxter got the rest of the way was three when junior Kaitlyn Headlee served the Bolts back into the game. Trailing 23-16, Headlee served up three aces and L-S had a hitting error to help close the gap to 23-20.

The Hawks finished off the set, though, when Fisk blasted a kill and Shiloh Cunningham served up an ace.

Baxter’s best player, junior Amber Weltha, picked up her play in the second set. She opened the set with a kill and then tied the game at 4-all with another hard blast. She put down back-to-back kills a few points later to put the Bolts up 8-4.

The lead grew to 13-6 before Cunningham had a kill and an ace to close the gap, but Baxter came right back with six straight points to go up 19-8.

The stretch included a pair of kills by Rainsbarger and sophomore Sophie Meyer. Meyer had 12 kills and 13 digs in the loss. Rainsbarger finished with 10 kills.

Consecutive aces by Fisk made it 19-11. The closest the Hawks got the rest of the set was 21-15, and that gap triggered a Baxter timeout.

The timeout helped the Bolts to another run, this time a 4-0 spurt that closed out the set. Weltha had a pair of kills during that stretch and finished with a match-high and 21 kills and eight digs on the night.

The 21 kills also ties a school record with Jordynn Wesselink, who set the mark last year in the Bolts’ first season.

Baxter kept its momentum in the third set. Weltha went back to work and gave the Bolts a 5-4 lead after consecutive kills. The game was tied nine times before Baxter scored five straight points to break a 17-all tie.

Headlee again had a stretch of solid serving that gave her team the lead. With the set tied, she scored five straight points, including an ace, to give the Bolts an advantage they wouldn’t surrender.

Headlee came into the season as the expected backup setter, but is getting plenty of playing time as senior setter Sydney Schmidt continues to miss action because of a sprained ankle. Headlee totaled a school-record 44 assists, eight digs and five aces in the loss.

“She served well. She came into the season knowing Sydney was a senior setter. But she never once backed down and kept working on making herself better,” Ranck said of Headlee. “You never know what will happen during a season. She’s played really well.”

Weltha put down a kill to tie the set and then had consecutive blasts to push Baxter’s lead to 21-17.

The Hawks got to within 23-21 after an ace by Fisk, but the Bolts finished off the set win after a kill by Rainsbarger and an ace by junior Bekka Watt.

The Bolts opened the fourth set with a 4-0 lead, but it quickly vanished after L-S scored four straight points. The Hawks had to rally again to tie the set at 8-all, and then four consecutive points put the visitors up 12-8.

Baxter never got closer than two the rest of the way, and a 4-0 run put the Hawks back up six. The set went back-and-forth, but L-S forced a fifth game with a 25-21 win.

The momentum stayed with the Hawks early in the final set. They went up 8-4 before another stellar serving run by Headlee tied it at 8-all.

The Bolts even took a brief lead, but a Fisk kill, a Cunningham ace and a Baxter hitting error pushed Lynnville-Sully to an 11-9 lead.

Weltha and Rainsbarger had consecutive kills to tie the frame again. Each team traded hitting errors to force another tie at 12, but L-S scored the final three points to secure it’s second-straight five-set win over Baxter.

“We have a couple kids out there who haven’t played before and are now starting,” Ranck said. “We are still finding our way a little bit. But I was proud of how they played tonight. We just have to be more consistent. We’ll get there.”

The Hawks served up 13 aces in the win. L-S was 116-of-120 in serves.

Baxter also had 13 aces, but missed eight serves on the night. The Bolts finished 97-of-105 as a team. Headlee was 27-of-28 with five aces, and sophomore Maddie Pierce was 22-of-23 with two aces. Meyer, Rainsbarger and Watt all had two aces, too.

Pierce collected a match-high and new school-record 34 digs. Junior Abbey Shepley added 12 digs.

The Bolts host Don Bosco at 6 p.m. on Sept. 16 in Baxter.

Baxter 3, Martensdale-St. Marys 0

Baxter needed 75 points to secure its three-set win over Martensdale-St. Marys on Aug. 30. The Bolts got 28 of those points from behind the service line.

A night when the Bolts served up a school-record 28 aces helped Baxter to a 25-12, 25-15, 25-15 home win over the Blue Devils.

“The team played so well tonight,” Ranck said. “They mustered up a lot of heart and effort after the tough match Tuesday and drew energy given off by an electric crowd.”

Baxter got off to a slow start, trailing 3-0, 6-2 and 7-4 in the opening set.

A kill by Weltha tied the game a 7-all and Baxter cruised from there, outscoring the Blue Devils 21-5 to take the first set.

The Bolts led the second set 11-6 before the Blue Devils rallied to get within 17-15. Baxter closed out the game with eight straight points, including four aces by Sophie Meyer.

“Overall, our serving was outstanding, as we placed the ball well in zones and gaps, and used a lot of variety,” Ranck said. “Except for a little confusion on defense with people in new positions, we played the ball well. It was a lot of fun.”

Weltha had a team-high 13 kills and a pair of aces in the win.

Meyer chipped in six kills but did most of her damage from behind the service line, finishing with 10 aces. She had a double-double with a team-high 10 digs. Meyer’s 10 aces ties a school record set by Wesselink last season.

Rainsbarger added nine aces and Pierce served up five aces. Pierce also chipped in eight digs.

Junior Sadie Meyer had four kills for the Bolts, who improved to 3-2 on the season. Headlee delivered 21 assists, had three digs and contributed a pair of aces.

The Bolts were 66-of-72 in serves on the night. Sophie Meyer was 19-of-20, Rainsbarger was 14-of-15 and Weltha and Headlee combined to go 19-of-19.

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