Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

By Gerry Steele

Baker opened its home volleyball season Thursday by dropping a 25-19, 17-25, 9-25, 24-26 nonleague match to Fruitland in the Baker gym.

"The nice thing about a nonleague match like this that is competitive is that it helps us see where we need to work on things," said Baker coach Michele McCauley.

Baker trailed early in the first game before Kate Averett's tip gave the Bulldogs a 9-8 edge.

Then after to ties Baker slowly forged ahead, finally building a 5-point lead, 22-17, on Whitney Lemmon's block.

The pattern was much the same in Game 2, only this time the Bulldogs weren't able to battle all the way back.

The turning point in the match came in Game 3 when nothing went right for the Bulldogs.

Baker fell behind 11-1 and could never catch up.

"In that third game we got into a funk and could never get out of it," McCauley said.

The teams then battled nip and tuck in the fourth game before Baker took a 23-21 lead.

But that would be Baker's final lead.

Fruitland rebounded to take a 24-23 edge before Averett evened the score at 24 with a hit off a Grizzlies block.

Baker couldn't take advantage of the deadlock and Fruitland scored match point on a hard hit.

Michelle Freese led Baker with 15-of-16 serving, six kills and 15-of-15 serve receive.

Averett was 12-of-13 serving, LaKayln Thomas 7-of-8, Makenna Bachman 12-of-12 and Dani McCauley 9-of-10.

Summer Phillips was 9-for-9 hitting with two kills. Madi Elms was 14-of-15 serve receive with 14 digs.

"I thought our serve receive was quite a lot better than our previous match. That enabled us to mix up our sets a little bit more," McCauley said.

"And, I thought we played scrappy defense at times."

Baker travels to Burns for a tournament Saturday.

Baker swept the junior varsity and frosh/soph matches Thursday.

Baker won the JV match 25-19, 22-25, 15-10, and the frosh/soph match 25-21, 25-23.