Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

Baker dispatched Philomath in three games Saturday in a Class 4A volleyball play-in match at Baker High School.

The Bulldogs won 25-22, 25-19, 25-18. But it wasn't as easy as it might appear. In fact it brought back some flashbacks to last year's playoff match against Banks, which Baker lost.

"We practiced real well this week, and we were really happy to get it done in three games," said Baker coach Michele McCauley.

"I told the girls we're just playing another game of volleyball."

Philomath, a fifth seed, might have had other ideas.

With the first game tied at 5-5, Philomath's Kayla Thorsness served six straight points to put Baker in an 11-5 hole.

Baker still trailed 12-7 when Ashley Trees came off the bench to serve three points and cut the deficit to 12-10. Tiffany Burk aided the cause with a scoring block and a scoring hit in the run.

Philomath maintained a slim lead until Tori Brown served two points for a 19-18 Baker lead. Both points came on Philomath errors.

The teams then battled through ties at 19, 21 and 22 before Emily Smith stepped to the service line and gave Baker the win.

Even then it wasn't easy. Brown's game-winning spike appeared to be long, but Philomath was called for being in the net giving Baker the point.

D.J. McCauley gave Baker an early 4-0 lead in Game 2.

But, again, Philomath stayed close until McCauley came around to serve again, giving Baker a 12-7 advantage. Stacy Duman's hit scored one point, and McCauley added an ace serve.

Baker continued to slowly add to its lead until Trees came in to serve and gave the Bulldogs a 22-13 edge.

Philomath managed to get back within five points, but Duman's soft hit at the net sealed the win.

Game 3 was similar to the first game with the Warriors taking an early lead and Baker needing to catch up.

Trailing 10-7, Trees again entered the match and served eight straight points for a 15-10 Baker lead. Burk and Duman each had scoring hits in the run.

Philomath cut the lead to 18-16 but McCauley answered with two points to boost the cushion back to 20-16. McCauley had another ace serve, and Brown added a scoring hit.

Later, with Baker leading 21-18, Kathryn Daugherty served the final four points for the match win.

Trees was 19-for-19 serving, and McCauley 16-for-16 serving with four ace serves.

Brown had 15 kills, and Burk 14. Kelsey Cole added 18 assists.

Baker now awaits the OSAA decision on when and where the Bulldogs will open the Class 4A state playoffs. That decision is expected to be announced Tuesday.