BU volleyball team loses semifinal to Lindenwood

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The Baker University volleyball team came into the HAAC Tournament with a different role than the 2009 season.

In 2009, the Wildcats entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed, after going 32-4 overall and 9-1 in the HAAC. BU won its first game of the tournament by sweeping No. 7 seed MidAmerica Nazarene University, but then was upset by eventual conference champion No. 4 seed Evangel University in the semifinal round.

“I think we are coming in at a different perspective,” senior Brooke Pryor said. “We are coming in as the underdogs, thinking that we should be the winners. People aren’t expecting us to be in the finals, so we are trying to prove people wrong.”

This season, Baker entered the HAAC tournament as the No. 6 seed and knocked off No. 3 seed William Jewell College 3-2, 20-25, 25-21, 28-30, 25-23, 15-9, Saturday in Liberty, Mo.

“I could not have been any happier,” head coach Kathy Allen said. “Everybody just stepped up. It was very obvious by the beginning of game four that we were going to win the whole thing. I didn’t even have a doubt in my mind.”

Sophomore Savannah Smith led the team with 21 kills, while junior Brooke Allen tallied 52 digs in the victory for the Wildcats.

“I think we played really well,” Smith said. “We all came together as a team, which was nice because we had been struggling to have everyone to have a good game. It was a good victory for us and a good moral victory to have everyone play well.”

The ‘Cats went on to play No. 2 seeded Lindenwood University Wednesday in St. Charles, Mo., in the semifinal round of the tournament, which they lost 3-1, with set scores of 21-25, 25-27, 29-27, 25-19.

“I thought that we played pretty well,” Pryor said. “We were never able to get into a real rhythm. Overall, our performance was good, though.”

Despite the HAAC semifinal loss to Lindenwood to end the season, Pryor believes the season as a whole was successful.

“Overall, it felt like we played well, but we had a really tough schedule,” Pryor said. “So, our record doesn’t necessarily reflect how we played, but we have a lot of talent on this team and played well as a team this season.”

Pryor and senior Kendra Stephens will be the only two players from this year’s team who will not be returning next season.

“It’s bittersweet,” Pryor said. “I have really enjoyed my time at Baker.”

Pryor has been a four-year starter and has set school records in numerous categories. Stephens is one of the few players that has worked her way from the junior varsity squad to a starter.

The Wildcats ended the year with a overall record of 23-14, and 6-4 in the HAAC, which was good enough for a three-way tie for fourth place in the conference.