BAXTER — Baxter head volleyball coach Joe Morton has always had confidence in his Bolts squad. And after their Oct. 11 Iowa Star Conference South Division showdown against Class 1A No. 4 North Tama, the team’s confidence is growing in themselves.
The Bolts lost the match but gained incredible momentum against the Redhawks.
Last season, North Tama didn’t let the Bolts get past 15 points in any set during a pair of sweeps.
Thursday, Baxter won a set and reached at least 20 points in three of the four frames during the 25-17, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20 home loss.
“This match showed what we are capable of,” said Baxter junior Sophie Meyer, who finished with 15 kills, six digs and one ace in the loss. “The pieces that haven’t always fallen for us fell tonight. We can take this match and build from it.”
The Bolts played from behind for the entire first set. A Meyer kill made it 9-8, but a kill and back-to-back aces by Katie Kopriva put the Redhawks in front 19-13. They went on to win by eight.
Baxter won the third set but held a lead in the second set behind strong play from Amber Weltha. A Weltha block and a pair of Weltha kills gave the Bolts a 9-6 advantage. North Tama rallied to tie the set and it went back-and-forth until the Redhawks scored five of the final seven points.
Weltha put down a match-high 23 kills and finished with 16 digs and one ace. Weltha’s kill efficiency was .462 and Meyer hit .444.
The Bolts (12-8 overall, 4-1 in conference play) did not have a good night behind the service line. They missed five serves in the opening set and lost by eight and then missed two more serves in the close second frame.
The Bolts looked like they were going to get swept away early in the third set. North Tama came out with five in a row, but Weltha and Bekka Watt rallied the Bolts back.
The two teams were tied eight times in the game. Meyer tied it at 22-all, Hallee Rainsbarger put the Bolts in front 23-22 and Weltha finished off the win with another hard blast.
“Learning to win in those scenarios is hard, and we were able to pull that set out. That was a big step for us,” Morton said.
North Tama grabbed an early lead in the fourth set but consecutive kills by Weltha trimmed Baxter’s deficit to 11-10.
Weltha continued her strong play at the net with two more kills a bit later, but the Redhawks began to pull away.
Trailing 21-13, Baxter got within 24-20 on two aces by Weltha and two kills each by Meyer and Watt. But Kopriva finished off the win with one final kill on match point.
The Bolts missed 13 serves on the night.
“Serving was a big part of the loss. That is one thing we can control though,” Meyer said.
Morton hopes the off serving night can be a lesson to his team.
“When we made the serve error, we were taking a conservative hit and not going back there and cranking it,” Morton said. “They were scared to make the error so they took something off them and when you do that, you almost always lose the point. That’s part of the learning process.”
Watt finished with five kills and Rainsbarger tallied four kills.
Kaitlyn Headlee dished out 42 assists and had six digs, Maddie Pierce collected 20 digs and Rachel Kenney tallied 11 digs and one ace. Abbey Shepley also served up one ace.
“We have the athletes to play with them, but (North Tama) has a better volleyball IQ and more big-game experience,” Morton said. “They know how to win. We are getting there.”
The Bolts played at Grand View Christian on Oct. 15. They host 1A No. 11 Gladbrook-Reinbeck at 7:15 p.m. on Oct. 17 in Baxter.
Baxter 3, GMG 0
BAXTER — Weltha converted 17 of her 19 kill attempts and Baxter served up 12 aces in a three-set win over GMG on Oct. 7.
The Bolts won their fourth straight match and improved to 4-0 in Iowa Star Conference South Division play with a 25-17, 25-10, 25-15 sweep of the Wolverines.
Weltha’s kill efficiency was .895. She also had seven digs, two blocks and three aces and was 13-of-14 in serves.
Headlee tallied 28 assists and two aces, Sophie Meyer finished with nine kills, seven digs and five aces and Shepley had a team-high eight digs.
Rainsbarger tallied six kills and Watt and Sadie Meyer both had three kills. The Bolts’ kill efficiency as a team was .476. Sophie Meyer and Watt were both at .400 for the night.
Baxter (10-4) was 61-of-66 in serves. Sadie Meyer was 10-of-10, Sophie Meyer finished 17-of-18 and Headlee was 10-of-11.
The loss dropped GMG to 1-18 overall and 1-4 in conference play.
Bolts win twice at BCLUW tournament
CONRAD — Baxter had a few rematches on Oct. 12 during the BCLUW tournament.
The Bolts defeated Collins-Maxwell for a third time this season and took down East Marshall a second time. Those were the only two wins of the day for Baxter, which also lost for a second time this season to North Tama.
Baxter swept East Marshall 21-14, 21-18 and defeated Collins-Maxwell in three sets 21-16, 9-21, 15-6.
The Bolts lost to Class 1A No. 4 North Tama 21-12, 21-4, were swept by 3A West Marshall 21-15, 21-17 and lost in three sets to 1A No. 14 BCLUW 21-14, 17-21, 15-6.
The Bolts (12-8) could see the host Comets in the quarterfinals of the 1A Region 4 tournament if both teams win their playoff opener.
A rematch with North Tama also could come in the regional final.
Against East Marshall (3-24), Weltha had nine kills, Headlee dished out 15 assists and Pierce tallied eight digs.
Rainsbarger put down five kills, Sophie Meyer chipped in three kills and six digs and Sadie Meyer and Bekka Watt each had two kills. Weltha tallied three digs and one ace, Headlee finished with one kill and two digs and Watt and Sophie Meyer both had an ace.
Against the Spartans, who took a set from the Bolts for the first time this year, Weltha blasted 12 kills, Headlee delivered 15 assists and Pierce tallied 15 digs.
Sophie Meyer put down six kills, totaled five digs and served up four aces, Rainsbarger finished with three kills, Weltha had five digs, Watt tallied three digs and two aces and Kenney and Pierce each had two aces.
Weltha had four kills and five digs against North Tama (21-5), which defeated the Bolts in four sets two days earlier. Rainsbarger and Watt each had two kills, Headlee dished out eight assists and Pierce collected seven digs.
Sophie Meyer and Kenney both had five digs.
Against West Marshall, Weltha had 10 kills and a kill efficiency of .625. She also finished with five digs and was 9-of-9 in serves.
Sophie Meyer had two kills, five digs and was 9-of-9 in serves, Watt tallied two kills and two digs, Headlee chipped in 12 assists and four digs and Pierce finished with nine digs and two assists. Sophie Meyer had the team’s only ace and Sadie Meyer had a pair of blocks.
Against the Comets (20-13), Weltha had 14 kills with a kill efficiency of .400. Sophie Meyer tallied six kills, Rainsbarger had three kills and Watt finished with two kills.
Headlee dished out 19 assists, tallied seven digs and served up three aces, Pierce collected 11 digs, two assists and one ace and Sophie Meyer had seven digs. Weltha finished with six digs and Rainsbarger had two digs and two blocks.