It isn’t easy to put away the Baraboo High School girls volleyball team.
Reedsburg found that out on Thursday night, leading throughout much of their Badger North Conference match against the visiting Thunderbirds. But Baraboo showed it knows how to close out sets, coming from behind on a number of occasions to pull out a 26-24, 25-23, 25-21 win.
“This is a huge rivalry between us and Reedsburg and my girls feed off that energy,” Baraboo head coach Morgan Liebetrau said after the win. “We played big in a couple of crucial points at the end of those sets. ... We just came up big in those crucial game-point situations.”
Baraboo (15-5, 2-1 Badger North) has made a bit of a habit of starting slow this season. Thursday was no different, as Liebetrau was forced to call a timeout after Reedsburg’s Macie Wieman had a kill to give the Beavers a 10-4 lead in the first set.
The timeout seemed to do the trick, as Baraboo’s Haley Hannagan had a kill on the ensuing point. Reedsburg’s Mahra Wieman answered with a kill of her own, followed shortly by a block that gave the Beavers a 12-6 lead.
Baraboo’s first run of the night started with a kill by senior Lia Kieck. Kieck and freshman McKenzie Gruner combined to block the next point and the T-Birds were rolling. Gruner had a kill of her own to pull Baraboo within 12-0 and force Reedsburg’s first timeout of the night.
After a Reedsburg miscue, Baraboo’s Abby Haseley recorded a kill to tie the game at 12. The Beavers weren’t ready to give up the lead, halting Baraboo’s six-point run with a kill by Aleah Wolter.
Kieck tied the set at 13 with a kill, then Baraboo took its first lead of the night when Reedsburg was called for crossing the net.
The lead lasted one point, as Reedsburg’s Kaitlyn Zunker had a kill to tie the game at 14 and the Beavers led until Megan Horstman and Kieck had back-to-back kills to tie the game at 20 and force a Reedsburg timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, Gruner notched a block and assisted Kieck for a kill to give Baraboo a 21-20 lead.
Reedsburg’s Delaney Horkan had a kill to tie the game at 23 and the teams were tied at 24 when Kieck tipped the ball over to bring Baraboo to set point. Horstman finished it off with a kill to give Baraboo the 26-24 set-one win.
“Those could go either way,” Liebetrau said. “I told the girls in timeout that if we lose this one, we’re going to be in trouble in set two, because that’s just the way our energy goes. If we lose a big match it’s a deflation, so that was huge for us to win set one.”
Set two was nearly a carbon copy of the first. Baraboo scored the first two points of the set, but Reedsburg rallied and eventually opened up a 13-10 lead after an ace by Ciara Grundahl.
Reedsburg held a 15-11 lead when Baraboo called a timeout to regroup. Kieck immediately had a kill, but Baraboo wasn’t able to make up much ground until Grace Stuckey went to the service line late in the set. The senior had back-to-back aces to give Baraboo a 21-20 advantage and force another Reedsburg timeout.
“Grace Stuckey had a great service run to get us back in the lead,” Liebetrau said. “And she played amazing defense tonight.
“Our defense was honestly all over the place. I was very happy with our defense.”
Reedsburg eventually drew even. However, just like the first set, Baraboo scored the final two points to secure a two-point win. Haseley got them both, recording a block and a kill to give the T-Birds the 25-23 victory.
“My girls feed off that energy, feed off that intensity,” Liebetrau said of how her team was able to rally. “The fact that this is our rival gets them energized and then they just feed off each other. ... That just pushes us through.”
Baraboo didn’t need a comeback in the third and final set. The T-Birds led throughout, building up as much as an 18-12 lead and forcing Reedsburg to call a timeout. Reedsburg pulled within 23-21 and Baraboo needed a late timeout, but Stuckey closed the match with another ace and the T-Birds held on for the sweep.
Kieck finished with a match-high 14 kills and four blocks, while Hannagan led everyone with 26 digs and Jordan Buelow had 41 assists and Stuckey tallied four aces.
Baraboo improved to 2-1 in Badger North Conference matches, while Reedsburg fell to 1-3 in conference play.
The T-Birds will host a six-team invitational on Saturday at Baraboo High School. Baraboo is 1-0 in home matches this season, having notched a 25-22, 25-19, 15-25, 21-25, 15-11 Badger North Conference win over Beaver Dam on Sept. 6.
Baraboo 26 25 25
Reedsburg 24 23 21
BARABOO (leaders): Kills — Lia Kieck 14. Digs — Haley Hannagan 26. Blocks — Kieck 4. Aces — Grace Stuckey 4. Assists — Jordan Buelow 41.
REEDSBURG: Kills — Alyssa Straka 8. Digs — Ciara Grundahl 14. Blocks — Kaitlyn Zunker 3. Aces — Grundahl 2. Assists — Mahra Wieman 11