BAXTER — Baxter’s volleyball team had little answers for Collins-Maxwell in a weekend tournament loss on Sept. 29.
Three days later, the Bolts flipped the script. And this time it counted as a conference match.
Baxter won a back-and-forth opening set before putting the pedal to the medal during a 25-21, 25-17, 25-11 sweep of the Spartans on Senior Night.
Collins-Maxwell swept Baxter easily at Madrid last weekend. The Bolts won the first match of the season series but two of those three sets were two-point games.
On Oct. 2, the Bolts were in control most of the way to grab a firm grip on second place in the Iowa Star Conference’s South Division.
“We talked yesterday about coming out today and playing with a lot of energy and enthusiasm,” Baxter coach Scott Ranck said. “It seems like we can’t get that energy on a weekend tournament. Nobody knows why.
“We had a really deep conversation about it yesterday. I think that helped us get ready for this one.”
Baxter honored its lone senior, Sydney Schmidt, before the match. The Bolts also recognized the rest of the team for their Volleyball Appreciation Night and the community’s youth players, too.
“I knew there would be a lot of people here tonight,” Ranck said. “We wanted to give them a good showing.”
Playing against some of their former teammates, Baxter and Collins-Maxwell were nip and tuck in the first set.
Neither team created much separation from each other. After four early ties, the Spartans (12-6 overall, 4-2 in the conference) rolled off three straight points to go up 11-8. Baxter rallied to tie the set, and it stayed even through 17-all.
That’s when Baxter turned the corner and took control. After back-to-back Spartan errors, sophomore Sophie Meyer made it 20-17 with a kill. Then another miscue on Collins-Maxwell’s side of the floor pushed the Bolts’ lead to four.
The Spartans closed the gap to two after a kill by junior Trinity Stover. Meyer pushed the lead back to three with another kill and another Collins-Maxwell error made it 23-19.
After two straight Spartan points, Baxter closed out the set following a C-M service error and hitting error.
Baxter’s early lead fired up the Bolts’ home crowd, and the atmosphere turned into what most postseason matches look like.
“We really love to jump up and down. It gives us energy all night,” said Baxter junior Amber Weltha, who had a match-high 13 kills and a pair of aces in the win.
Weltha and the Bolts (9-9, 5-1) used the momentum from the opening set to get out to a lead in the second frame. Weltha’s back-to-back-to-back kills put Baxter up 4-1.
It was a short-lived lead though as Collins-Maxwell rolled off five straight to go up 6-4. But back came the Bolts as an ace by junior Kaitlyn Headlee and another kill by Weltha made it 7-6.
After falling behind by three, the Spartans again turned the tide with three straight points.
The set turned in Baxter’s favor for good after that though. Weltha tied it at 9-all with another blast at the net, and the Bolts got back-to-back kills by sophomore Hallee Rainsbarger to go up 12-9. Rainsbarger had seven kills, seven digs and two aces on the night.
Baxter never trailed again. And a long service run by Schmidt, which included a pair of aces, helped put the set away. Meyer had a pair of kills during the 7-0, too, and Baxter went up 2-0 following an ace by Rainsbarger and another hard attack by Weltha.
“We were just really pumped up. It was Senior Night, Parent Night and we were just on,” Weltha said. “This felt so good. We have been off and on all season, but everything came together tonight.”
Weltha made sure the Bolts finished off their friendly rivals in three sets. She opened the third set with a trio of kills to put her team up 3-1. Then back-to-back aces by junior Bekka Watt pushed the advantage to 7-3.
Leading 7-5, Baxter got another long service run by Schmidt. She made it 9-5 with an ace and then served up three consecutive aces to push the lead to 14-5. Schmidt finished 19-of-20 in serves and had seven aces.
Collins-Maxwell only got as close as eight the rest of the way. Back-to-back kills by Weltha and Watt made it 20-9, and the Bolts closed out the sweep seven points later.
“We weren’t happy with our results on Saturday. We played well in a few games, but we had no energy and made too many errors,” Ranck said. “I was really proud of how the girls came out and sustained the energy the whole night. That didn’t happen this past weekend or against Colo-NESCO last week. It’s a mindset. We know we can do things well, but we have to come out and do it consistently.”
Meyer finished with six kills and nine digs, Watt added three kills, 12 digs and two aces and sophomore libero Maddie Pierce collected a team-high 13 digs. Headlee dished out 26 assists and finished with seven digs.
The Bolts were 67-of-73 in serves with 14 aces. Headlee was 13-of-13 and Weltha was 12-of-12 in serving. Meyer and Rainsbarger were both 9-of-11.
Bolts claim one win at BCLUW tournament
CONRAD — Baxter’s volleyball team had a familiar foe in the opening round of the BCLUW tournament on Oct. 6.
The Bolts were facing a Collins-Maxwell squad they had just beaten in straight sets four days earlier. And the latest meeting was the fourth time they faced off this season.
Baxter once again clinched a sweep, this time winning in two sets. Unfortunately for the Bolts, the 21-14, 21-14 win over the Spartans was the only victory of the weekend.
BCLUW handed Baxter a 21-11, 21-12 loss, West Marshall defeated the Bolts 21-18, 21-19 and East Marshall took down Baxter 25-19, 25-23.
Against Collins-Maxwell, Baxter (10-12) got six kills from junior Amber Weltha and sophomore Sophie Meyer. Junior Bekka Watt tallied five kills and sophomore Hallee Rainsbarger chipped in four kills.
Junior Kaitlyn Headlee dished out 14 assists and nine digs, Watt collected 13 digs and Meyer and sophomore Maddie Pierce finished with eight digs apiece. Weltha also tallied two blocks.
The Bolts were 38-of-41 in serves and had four aces. Weltha and Watt were both 4-for-4 with one ace, Schmidt was 13-of-14 with an ace and Meyer was 7-of-8 with an ace.
In the loss to BCLUW (23-11), Weltha finished with five kills, Headlee dished out 11 assists, Watt tallied four digs and Rainsbarger collected two blocks. Meyer served up the team’s only ace.
The Bolts lost a close match with West Marshall. In that loss, Weltha tallied six kills, Headlee had 11 assists and six digs, Meyer tallied three kills and eight digs and Pierce finished with nine digs.
Rainsbarger had three kills, Weltha had three blocks, Watt collected four digs and Headlee had the team’s lone ace.
Baxter had 14 kills against East Marshall, and Weltha and Watt each had five apiece. Headlee finished with 10 assists and four digs. Weltha also had three digs and two blocks.
Pierce had six digs, Meyer and junior Rachel Kenney finished with five digs and Watt added four digs.
Baxter was 38-of-41 in serves with four aces. Rainsbarger was 7-for-7 with a pair of aces, Headlee finished 8-for-8, Watt was 5-for-5 and Weltha finished 4-for-4. Schmidt was 8-of-9 with an ace. Meyer had the other ace.
The Bolts play next in the Iowa Star Conference tournament at 10 a.m. on Oct. 13 at Meskwaki Settlement School.