The Cleveland Lady Raiders fought to the finish but wound up on the losing end of a three-game battle with Baylor on the volleyball court.
The Lady Red Raiders took the series by scores of 25-21, 25-18 and 25-17.
The loss did not upset head coach Trish Flowers, who lauded the effort of the Lady Raiders against powerful Baylor.
“Even though we lost, we lost to a really good team and they had to earn their wins. All three games they had to earn their wins,” said Flowers.
“We struggled with serving a little bit, which seems to be our strength. We couldn't get any runs because of that. Both teams struggled with serving. They missed a lot of serves that caused us to get the ball, and then we missed our serves. It was good competition before we play Bradley.”
The Bearettes visit Cleveland tonight with varsity volleyball tipping off at 6:15 p.m.
The Lady Raiders fell behind 6-3 in game one, before Allison Botts tied the game at 6-all with her first kill of the night. Baylor fired back to take a 12-7 advantage and built an 18-8 cushion on the way to a 22-9 lead. A kill by Emma Flowers set off a five-point Cleveland rally to close the gap to 22-14. Baylor scored two more before the Lady Raiders fought back with six points to make it 24-21 before the Lady Red Raiders picked up the final point to win 25-21.
“They run a quick offense. It's something we are trying to improve on. They talk a lot. They are going to try to win the warmup and try to be intimidating. We tend to have the philosophy that we are not here to win the warmup, we are here to win the game,” said Flowers.
Cleveland jumped out front in game two 5-3 and fought to a 9-6 lead before the visitors scored 10 of the next 12 points to hold a 16-11 advantage. After a side out point for Cleveland, Kayla Lee served up an ace and Flowers picked up a kill to make it 18-16. Baylor responded with five straight points to go up 23-16 before closing out the win.
“I'm really proud of my girls for playing well against a good team. I personally think we didn't give them the best Cleveland we have,” said Flowers.
The final game of the night was another battle early, with Baylor finally easing out to an 8-4 lead on the strength of back-to-back aces. Another pair of consecutive aces put Baylor on top 15-7. Addie Strode capped off a small Cleveland rally with a kill that made it 15-10. With Baylor holding an 18-13 lead, Cleveland suffered a string of unforced errors that put Baylor out front 23-13. Cleveland recovered for three straight points highlighted by a Strode ace, but the comeback was too little, too late as Baylor got the final point on a Cleveland service error.
“We had some ball-handling errors we don't usually get called. Our passing accuracy was not there. Our timing is really off. We are losing this gap of points at the wrong time. If we can fix that it would be awesome,” said Flowers.
“We have a big game against Bradley. I think the girls are ready. It's going to be a packed house.”
The first volley is set for 4:15 p.m. for freshman action, followed by junior varsity volleyball at 5:15 and varsity at 6:15.