Gerry Steele
The Baker City Herald

By Gerry Steele

Baker held its own destiny in its hands entering Tuesday's Greater Oregon League volleyball match with La Grande in the Baker gym.

A Baker win would clinch the GOL's second Class 4A state berth and a home match this weekend.

However, La Grande made sure that didn't happen. The Tigers, undefeated in the GOL, handed Baker a 25-12, 25-19, 25-20 defeat.

That dropped Baker into a second-place tie with Ontario, both at 3-3.

The teams will playoff at 5 p.m. today at Huntington High School.

A Baker win would mean the Bulldogs would host Sutherlin in a play-in match Saturday at BHS.

A Baker loss to Ontario would end Baker's state hopes. The Bulldogs then would complete their season Thursday with a nonleague match at Pendleton.

"If we win Wednesday we would cancel the Pendleton match so that we wouldn't be playing four matches in the same week," said Brad Dunten, BHS athletic director.

Dunten said that if Baker loses to Ontario the team still would honor its commitment to play Pendleton.

Against La Grande, Baker led early in the first game, but never again.

Leading 3-2, Baker then gave up 19 straight points to lose Game 1.

Game 2 was tied 2-2 before La Grande methodically increased its lead for the win.

Baker never led in Game 3. In fact the closest the Bulldogs could get was three points on a handful of occasions.

"I didn't feel like we played poorly as a team," said Baker coach Michele McCauley.

"We're just consistently inconsistent. We just have to be able to make the changes on the court," McCauley said.

La Grande dominated the Bulldogs at the net, as Baker managed just 50 percent hitting.

Summer Phillips led the Bulldogs with a 7-for-8 effort.

Madi Elms was 9-for-10 serving and 11-of-13 serve receive.

Makenna Bachman, LaKalyn Thomas and Michelle Freese all served 100 percent.

The last time Baker and Ontario met, at Ontario, the teams played a five-set match with Ontario winning.

McCauley said it's up to the Bulldogs to change that tonight.

"The last time we played we didn't serve as aggressively as we could. We need to serve more aggressively, and attack the ball more aggressively," she said.

Baker split Tuesday's preliminary matches.

Baker won the frosh/soph match 25-22, 20-25, 15-4. The Bulldogs lost the junior varsity match 22-25, 25-23, 17-15.