The Prescott Cardinals volleyball team asserted themselves as the class of the Middle Border Conference after sweeping Baldwin-Woodville in the Middle Border opener on Thursday, Sept. 15.
Less than one week earlier, the Blackhawks swept Prescott in a best-ofthree series at the annual Baldwin-Woodville quad. Prescott head coach Tracey Budworth watched the film, made adjustments and figured out how to attack a talented Baldwin-Woodville squad that entered the Thurs- day night contest with a 14-2 record.
Prescott recorded three consecutive set victories which featured scores of 2514, 25-22 and 25-23 to record the 3-0 series win. Those ad – justments based on the film of the Baldwin-Woodville quad made all the diuerence, according to coach Budworth.
"I adjusted my lineup as a result of the quad and we adjusted some of how we're setting up and covering. I think we took a lot away from that," Budworth said. “I think that Baldwin-Wood- ville match at the quad was tough for us and we were upset with that loss. We knew we could play better and it lit a fire under us." Whether it was that fire lit from the loss at the quad or the raucous home student section shaking the gym with its cheering, something propelled Prescott to an early lead in the debut set on Thursday night.
The ardinals jumped out to an 8-2 lead and made it look as if the first set was going to be a blowout. However, the Blackhawks re- sponded with a small scor ing barrage of their own and brought it to within two points, 9-7. Prescott answered with a 10-4 scoring run that culminated in an 18-11 lead and a time- out by Baldwin-Woodville head coach Shan non Kamm.
The Blackhawks’ timeout did little to slow Prescott’s momentum as the Cardinals cruised to a 25-14 victory in the opening set to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series. The second set proved to be significantly more competitive than the first.
There were eight diuerent lead changes be fore either team scored 15 points. If Prescott went on a scoring run, Baldwin-Wood – ville immediately answered and vice versa. Throughout the season, Prescott has been a team that capitalizes in the middling portions of sets and puts games away before either team gets into the 20s.
Prescott continued that during the second set against the Blackhawks when the Cardi- nals, who at one point trailed 10-9, went on a run in the middle of the set and took an 18-13 lead. The Blackhawks battled back and tied the game 22-22. Prescott strung together the next three points to secure a 25-22 victory and take a commanding 2-0 lead in the series.
Prescott junior setter Katressa Syverson played arguably her best game of the season on the biggest stage thus far, the conference opener. Syverson took control of Prescott's ouense and distributed the ball beautifully for outside hitters sophomore Natalie Ptacek and senior Katrina Budworth. Syverson's dy namic ability to spread the wealth kept Bald- win-Woodville's defense guessing through out the match.
"We have talked a lot about how she's the only setter on the court and that she needs to control the court," Tracey Budworth said. "We've talked about how she needs to take control because she’s capable. In the last few games, she's stepped up to that and is call – ing plays. She seems to be very confident in herself now and it shows. She knows that she can control the floor." Syverson continued her ouensive excel lence into the third set as Prescott and Bald- win-Woodville got into another deadlocked contest. Throughout the third set, the Cardi nals and Blackhawks were knotted up three times including scores of 5-5, 13-13 and 2323. While the third set was tied several times, Baldwin-Woodville controlled a majority of the set.
At one point, the Blackhawks led 19-14 and appeared to be on the verge of pushing the Middle Border Conference opener to a fourth set. Prescott responded, with a 7-4 scoring run to take a 23-21 lead and force a Baldwin-Woodville timeout. The Black –
hawks tied the set 23-23 before Prescott ral –
lied to score two consecutive points and se – cure a 25-23 victory to sweep the series 3-0.
"I knew we could beat them," Tracey Budworth said just moments after her squad secured the sweep. "We didn't play well against them at their quad last week and we just struggled. Even though we struggled, we played close sets." Those close sets, as well as the aforemen – tioned adjustments Budworth made, proved to give Prescott confidence on Thursday night in the MBC opener. She spoke about their goal going into the match against the Blackhawks.
"Before each game, we talk about what we do and don't need to do during each game," Budworth said. "The first 'do' was to win three tonight. They hit their 'do' the first one of the year. I knew we had it in us and now we've found it." Throughout the first month of the season, Prescott had been plagued by struggles with serving and receiving the opposition's serve. Those woes have essentially vanished, as the Cardinals were statistically excellent in both departments on Thursday against Bald- win-Woodville.
"I'm pretty sure I'm going to have a cou – ple of 100% serving rates today," Budworth said. "It's fantastic and I'm very happy about it." Prep sports prognosticators favored Prescott and Baldwin-Woodville to be the two top teams in the Middle Border Confer- ence this season. Baldwin-Woodville began the season with a 14-2 record before falling to Prescott in the conference opener and is 8-1 in the last nine games. Budworth spoke about a potential rivalry with the Blackhawks.
"I think Osceola is going to look pretty good, but this (Baldwin-Woodville) team was going to be our biggest competition in the conference," Budworth said. "To start with them and sweep, I think it's a good omen." With the victory, Prescott improves to 14-9 for the season and 1-0 in Middle Border Con – ference action. Up next for the Cardinals is another conference game on Thursday, Sept. 22, at home against Saint Croix Central. That match will begin at 7 p.m.