October 15, 2013 | 8 views
Baldwin volleyball gaining steam
Baldwin (6-3 overall) extended its winning streak to three straight matches, taking nine straight games in Conference AA-I battles with Farmingdale (27-25, 25-20, 25-14), Hicksville (25-17, 25-8, 25-13) and Syosset (25-9, 25-15, 25-21).
The most recent sweep, against the Dalers last Friday, was led by senior middle hitter Loren McKenzie’s 17 kills and 10 blocks, and 30 assists from junior setter Keira Knauer. “In the first game [against the Dalers] we started strong, slipped a little but still won in three games,” coach Natalie Hamilton said. “We want to finish stronger than we started heading into the postseason.”
McKenzie, on her way to play volleyball at the Division I level in college, has been an anchor of both the Lady Bruins’ offense and defense at the net. Standing 6-foot-2, she’s the tallest player in the conference and capable of dominating for extended stretches. She provides an excellent target for Knauer, like McKenzie and junior outside hitter Bridgette Walsh, a team captain. Walsh, already physically aggressive, has become a vocal player at the net. Junior libero Erica Ackerman had 20 digs and four aces last Friday, just four days after piling up 16 digs, four kills and four aces in the sweep of the Lady Comets.
“We have 10 returning players and I think that’s a huge advantage,” Hamilton said of her team’s 6-2 run just past the halfway point of its conference schedule. “We have all but two starters back and they jelled very quickly.”
On top of the strong play in conference, Baldwin has also performed well in tournament play, capturing the title in its own tournament in September for the first time in six years and advancing to the semifinals at Wantagh’s tournament where it lost to St. Anthony’s. “When it comes down to it the girls can play with any of the best teams,” Hamilton said.