By COREY KIRK

The Baker volleyball team took to the road for the first time this season on Saturday, Aug. 28, and the Bulldogs returned from the three-hour trip to McCall, Idaho, with their first loss.

The McCall-Donnelly Vandals swept Baker, 3-0.

But the Vandals had to earn every point in front of their raucous home crowd.

“Yesterday was a good test for some of our kiddos, having to get off the bus and show up to play a tough team,” Baker coach Ali Abrego said on Sunday, Aug. 29. “They got into rhythm and were able to piece together some really nice plays.”

Baker, which opened its season by sweeping Powder Valley in the Baker gym on Aug. 26, fell behind 16-8 in the opening set at McCall.

The Bulldogs rallied to get within 19-15, and 24-22, but the Vandals’ early advantage was too much to overcome, and McCall-Donnelly won the set 25-22.

In the second set the Vandals again forged an early lead at 11-6.

But Baker responded again, tying the score at 13 and even taking a brief lead at 18-16.

McCall-Donnelly then scored four straight points to lead 20-18, but the Bulldogs rallied again to tie it at 21 and 22.

Junior Rylee Elms served two straight aces to give Baker a set point at 24-22, but the Vandals then tied it at 24.

Baker had two more set points, at 25-24 and 26-25, but couldn’t get the winning point. McCall-Donnelly scored the final three points to win the set.

In the third and final set, McCall-Donnelly went up 9-4 but Baker scored six straight points, its longest stretch of the match, to lead 10-9. Elms had a spike that tied it at 9.

Baker continued the rally, eventually winning 13 of 15 points to lead 17-11, its largest advantage of the match.

But the Vandals responded with a 7-1 run to tie it at 18. McCall-Donnelly led 23-20 and appeared poised to put the match away, but Baker rallied to tie it at 23 before the Vandals scored the final two points to wrap up the sweep.

“The girls recognized what they needed to improve on, and what they did well, without me having to tell them, which also shows growth,” Abrego said.

Baker returns to the road this week, but for a much shorter journey, to Union.

The Bulldogs will take on the Bobcats Thursday, Sept. 2 starting at 5:30 p.m.

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