BAKER — After a decade of dominance for the Baker School volleyball team shows no signs of letting up. The Gators entered Thursday's District 3-1A championship match with Freeport having won 10 straight district titles.
A gutsy Bulldog team hung tough with Baker, but hanging tough wasn't good enough. As had been the case in each of the previous 10 years a determined Gator squad lifted another championship trophy sweeping Freeport in straight sets 25-10, 26-24, 25-21.
Baker will host the runner up, either South Walton or Liberty County, from the District 4-1A tournament in the Class 1A regional semifinals on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. Freeport will travel to the winner of the South Walton-Liberty tournament
The Gator seniors were in the first grade the last time the Gators failed to win the district title.
Alex Roy, Baker's senior libero who finished the night with 16 digs and an ace, admitted that she doesn't remember volleyball from that far back. But it was important for Roy to help keep the championship streak intact.
"It means a lot," she said. "I've played volleyball four years and just living up to what all the seniors have done in the past and getting that 11th win (district title) is an awesome feeling. It's really great.
"Our experience gives us a lot of confidence. All we can do is move up from here so we will try to do our best and see how it goes."
Baker (20-4) and Freeport (15-11) traded points in the early part of the first set as the teams tried to find their rhythm.
The set was tied 3-3 after a kill by Freeport's Amanda Sefo. A serving error by the Bulldogs gave the Gators a point and the serve.
Baker proceeded to string five unanswered points together with freshman Taylor Brunson in serve as the Gators took control of the set.
Jasmine Abbott ended the Gator run with a kill. Abbott's score was the only Freeport point in a 9-1 Baker run.
Miranda Whatmough was strong in serve for the Gators with three aces during the run.
Baker was able to maintain the 8-point cushion the rest of the way in taking the set.
Freeport made things interesting in the second set as Mary Kate Myrick led the charge with four kills to keep the Bulldogs close. But for every big hit turned in by Myrick and her Freeport teammates the Gators had an answer as steady play ruled the set.
A Hana Wadsworth kill put the Gators up 24-20, but Freeport came back to tie the set at 24-24 before kills by Ashley Black and Whatmough gave the Gators the set.
With the third set tied 6-6 back-to-back kills by Whatmough gave the Gators an 8-6 lead they would hold onto the rest of the way.
Freeport did get to within a point of Baker at 22-21 after a kill by Kennedi Bates. Hartley Moate's only kill of the night sparked the final Gator run of the night as Baker wrapped up the win.
"We were solid in every aspect of the game," Baker Coach Tomikko Parks said. "I stressed serve and receive to the girls all week and they were spot on. We were spot on with our passing and we were in the right spots (on defense).
"They took what we practiced and the things we knew were going to happen and applied it to the game and that's probably the most important thing."
Whatmough led the Gators with nine kills and four aces to go along with nine digs. Lena Daoud had 16 assists, six digs, an ace and a kill. Wadsworth had three aces, three digs and three kills and Jordan Linzy had nine digs, an ace and a kill.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.