Baldwin swept a three-set non-league match against Clarke last Saturday (25-14, 25-17, 25-20), and improved its record to 4-1 overall (3-1 in Conference AA-I) on the volleyball court.
With their winning streak extended to three — all by three-set sweeps —the Lady Bruins were gearing up for another tough week of conference play that included a battle with top-seeded Massapequa on Friday.
“We’ve had some time to work out the kinks, for the girls to jell and for us to figure out the strengths we have offensively and defensively,” first-year coach Natalie Hamilton, herself a former Baldwin volleyball player, said of closing out the first half of the schedule against the Lady Chiefs.
In a three-set victory over East Meadow on Sept. 24 (25-17, 25-21, 25-20), Baldwin was led by senior co-captains and All County returnees Colleen Walsh, a right-side hitter, and Alexajill Ackerman an outside hitter. Walsh produced six aces, eight kills and 11 digs, while Ackerman had three aces and seven kills. “That first game was definitely the strongest [of the match],” Hamilton said. “We had seven aces total. We have a lot of strong servers and we like to capitalize on that.”
Despite having just two seniors in the starting lineup, Baldwin entered the 2012 season with lofty expectations, seeded second behind Massapequa in the conference. One of those emerging players is sophomore setter Keira Knauer, who contributed 26 assists in the win over East Meadow. As the only setter in the Lady Bruins 5-1 alignment, Knauer a three-year varsity player in her first year as a starter, continues to grow. “Each game we’re trying to run some plays taking advantage [of the talent] we have,” Hamilton said.
Junior middle hitter Loren Mackenzie is one of the key cogs on at the front of the net. Standing 6-foot, 2-inches, she’s already a powerful force up front and continues to build up her versatility. Joining Mackenzie at the net is sophomore Bridgette Walsh, who may turn the heads of some opponents when she’s announced as an outside hitter and stands just 5-3. “She has very good jumping ability,” Hamilton said.
In a sweep of the Lady Generals on Sept. 20 (25-11, 25-13, 25-18), Walsh showed off some of her leaping prowess, chipping in with eight kills and 10 digs, while her sister, Colleen, had 15 aces and 11 digs. “Everything [was working],” Hamilton said of the match. “We were playing Baldwin volleyball in all three games.”
Juniors Jessica Pulis, Zhane Warthen and Jessica Markowitz all contribute at outside hitter and middle hitter, with sophomore Erica Ackerman thwarting opposing attacks at libeiro.
Serving as the hosts of a tournament on Sept. 22, Baldwin turned in an impressive 7-1 mark in pool play and finished third overall. The Lady Bruins, who finished third in the tournament portion, lost in the semifinals to South Side, the eventual champions. “We had a strong showing that day,” Hamilton said.