-- — The Batesville Lady Bulldogs had their hands full Saturday night in the Class 3A, Sectional No. 29 finals.
But in the end they claimed their eighth consecutive sectional title by knocking off Lawrenceburg in five sets.
“I am very proud of our team ... this was a tough day,” BHS coach Kateri Paul commented. “It is always hard to beat a team three times in a season ... We came out flat and physically tired.
“This team has a lot of drive and pride and pulled it together,” she added.
Volleyball, probably more than any other sport, is about momentum.
And Saturday night was a perfect example.
The Lady Tigers opened the match nearly perfect in all aspects. They built an early 9-4 lead in the first set and rode the momentum to a 20-14 advantage before closing it out 25-20.
What momentum the Lady Bulldogs gained in the later stages carried over to game two.
Batesville turned the tables and cruised to a 25-15 win.
A kill by Rylee Goldsmith sealed the deal and set the tone for set three.
The Lady Bulldogs continued to control the tempo and went on to post a 25-19 win in the third set.
It appeared to be a matter of playing out the fourth set before the Lady Bulldogs would claim the title.
Not the case.
Just in a matter of few points, the Lady Bulldogs were visibly on their heels and it was Lawrenceburg dictating the play.
An 11-4 lead grew to 21-10 and later a 25-10 win for the Lady Tigers.
The match was all square at 2-2.
Something must have clicked at the change over between sets. The Lady Bulldogs were immediately on the offensive and did not let up.
When it is crunch time, teams generally go to their best for results. And that was the case for the Lady Bulldogs.
Junior Bailey Baumer was unstoppable. Sets were crisper and her power at the net took over.
The fifth set was tied at 2-2 when the attack began. Baumer kills on three of the next four points sparked a 6-2 lead. Two more Baumer kills countered a couple Lady Tiger points and the Batesville lead went to 9-4. A little handy work at the net by Morgan Dreyer made it 11-5.
The success was contagious and teammate Madi Oesterling did her part with a pair of kills to make it 13-8, which virtually sealed the deal. Batesville closed out the final set by a score of 15-10 before the celebration could begin.
Statistically, the Lady Bulldogs were led by Baumer with a total of 16 kills, while Oesterling finished with 10. Rylee Goldsmith did her part at the net as well with seven kills.
Baumer and Goldsmith shared team-high honors with 21 digs apiece followed by Morgan Dreyer with 18.
Dreyer and Katie Thomas handled the majority of the setting duties. Dreyer finished with 26 assists, while Thomas added 17.
Chelsey Paul was the top server with 15 points, including four aces.
Lady Bulldogs top Madison in five
The first of the two matches on Saturday was just as exciting if not more. The Lady Bulldogs were stretched deep into five sets by the Madison Lady Cubs before prevailing 24-26, 25-18, 12-25, 25-20 and 16-14.
“We were so keyed up to play Madison,” Paul commented. “We could not match up with their height so we had to be aggressive servers and attackers ... It was a real team effort led at the net by Bailey (Baumer) and Madi (Oesterling) did an excellent job serving.
“It was such a tiring physical and emotional game. I didn't know how we would come out in the finals,” she added.
Baumer pounded 24 kills over the five sets followed by Goldsmith with 10 and Dreyer with eight.
Oesterling led the team in service points with 16.