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Volleyball team looks to find stride

Head+coach+Matt+Windle+motivates+the+team+during+a+timeout+in+the+second+set+against+Peru+State+on+Sept.+13+in+the+Collins+Center.
Head coach Matt Windle motivates the team during a timeout in the second set against Peru State on Sept. 13 in the Collins Center.

Head coach Matt Windle motivates the team during a timeout in the second set against Peru State on Sept. 13 in the Collins Center.

Chad Phillips

Chad Phillips

Head coach Matt Windle motivates the team during a timeout in the second set against Peru State on Sept. 13 in the Collins Center.

Story by Chad Mullen, Writer

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The Baker volleyball team lost all four of its matches on Friday and Saturday in the Baker Invitational tournament and then fell to Peru State in the conference opener on Tuesday.

In the tournament, the Wildcats took on two ranked opponents in Park University and Oklahoma City University, and two unranked opponents in Ottawa University and Saint Ambrose University. The 0-4 tournament run put the Wildcats at 2-11 before the start of the conference schedule.

The young Baker team featuring only two seniors has also had recent injury problems that especially plagued the Wildcats in this tournament.

“We have five transfers and two freshmen, so there is a bit of an adjustment to that,” junior Brittney Diehm said. “We also lost Kailin Cordes, she’s one of our best hitters and our libero, Ali Clark, who is essential to our team, so we are adjusting to that as well.”

Constant lineup changes have resulted in inconsistency for the Wildcats.

“We rotate a lot of players in and out of the match, and most of the time it works and gives us a spark, but we are unable to finish matches,” Diehm said.

After losing to Saint Ambrose in five sets in its first matchup, Baker took on No. 7 Park, and was down 20-10 in the first set when Diehm crashed into the bleachers to save a ball. This charged the Wildcats up, making the match competitive in what was ultimately a losing effort.

“When I got in there I was mad at the way we were playing, like I think everybody was, so I was going after every ball,” she said. “I saw the bleachers, I was sprinting as hard as I could, and I didn’t even care at that point what would happen to me. I just was hoping that it would pump the team up, and I think it did.”

Saturday’s matches resulted in losing efforts to Ottawa and No. 18 Oklahoma City University, Baker’s final matches before heading into the conference season.

“We were told we had the 10th-toughest non-conference schedule of anyone in the nation, and facing that tough competition can only help us with our conference opponents,” Diehm said. “We’re going into conference with a lot of tough matchups under our belts, so we are ready for anything.”

In their first conference matchup on Tuesday, however, the Wildcats fell at home to the Peru State Bobcats, 22-25, 25-15, 25-14, 25-17.

Baker dominated the end of the first game, coming from behind to win. The ‘Cats could not keep that momentum going throughout the rest of the match, however.

Next up the Wildcats will take on Lindenwood-Belleville at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Collins Center. Lindenwood-Belleville is currently 8-4 on the season.

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