When Frontier and Bakersfield Christian met on the volleyball court 10 days ago, it only served to wet the appetite of two of Kern County’s top teams.
It was the title game of the two-day Rock Town Rumble tournament in Morro Bay, and it was settled by a one-set match, won by the Titans, 25-22.
Now back in town, the teams will look to quench their thirst, and gain some important leverage come seeding time for the Central Section Division II playoffs, when the Eagles host Frontier on Tuesday at 6 p.m.
“I always talk to them honestly, and when it comes to playoff seeding, I think this will matter down the road, so I make sure I let them know that,” said Frontier coach Morgan Dake, whose team went 4-0 in last weekend’s Coast vs. Valley Showcase at Atascadero High. “CIF looks at head-to-head matchups when they determine who gets seeding, and the girls know that.
“I would expect this to be a very rowdy game between crowds because people have been talking about this game, and I know both of our schools are excited. I know our girls are excited to play this game.”
Bakersfield Christian (14-5) has also been looking forward to the meeting.
“It was a good, close game until the very end,” said fourth-year BCHS coach Matt Touchstone. “So it’s going to be a tough match. It’s going to be fun.
“I don’t think either team wanted it to be just one (set). I know for our girls, they definitely wanted another crack at them, so this regular best three-out-of-five match will be good incentive for them, and they’re looking forward to it.”
The Titans (14-4) rely heavily on an experienced, senior-heavy squad that took their lumps the past two seasons while refining their game. Frontier, which was a combined 25-39 overall and 4-16 in the powerful Southwest Yosemite League the past two years, is led by senior setter Hailey Plugge, who has committed to play at Wichita State next year.
Plugge’s favorite targets are seniors Caroline McCarty and Ashley Sommerfeld, while 5-foot-3 senior Caterra Daniels also figures to make an impact as the Titans’ libero.
“Frontier is a good team; they’re pretty physical,” Touchstone said. “They have a great setter, a couple good hitters and they play hard so it’s going to be a tough match for us.”
The Eagles also return several key players from last year’s Division I semifinalist, led by talented sophomore outside hitter Ashley Herman. Bakersfield Christian expects to get key contributions from senior setter Lexi Reynish, junior middle blocker Addie Schaefer and junior outside hitter Alexandra Johnson. Defensively, BCHS is led by juniors Gwyneth Bouma, Grace Kennelley and Ireland Calderwood, according to Touchstone.
“(BCHS) has really strong outside hitters and a crafty middle that is getting pretty consistent,” Dake said. “Their libero is also a pretty consistent and scrappy.
“I think we’re a good matchup for them. I think it’s always going to be good games between the two teams. We have a good right-side block, they have really strong outside hitters, so it’s just going to be a constant battle.”