CORTLAND — For the last time in their volleyball careers, the Lakeview seniors took their final steps in their own gymnasium in match uniforms.
Donning their royal blue jerseys with black numbers and lettering, the Bulldogs entered the playoffs looking for one last chance to win at home and one step closer to achieving their playoff goals.
Of course, as a libero, senior Maddie Bayus stands out in a gray jersey with royal numbers and lettering. The senior had a goal for herself heading into the playoffs.
The Bulldogs won a 3-0 sweep over Grand Valley on Tuesday night and Bayus achieved his goal of recording the 1,000th recovery of his career.
“Since the second year, I definitely had to transform into this new player, but I’m so happy to have been able to take on this role”, Bayus said. “Nothing makes me happier to take on this lead role and take on this backline, it’s been overwhelming, but it’s amazing. I knew I had to be loud to get the batter’s attention, to get the other team’s attention and to get my back row’s attention I knew I had to be loud and a leader, I knew I had to always come with the utmost energy to rally behind each other.
Bayus knew early this fall that hitting the 1,000 digs milestone was on the radar after posting 350 his sophomore year and then just under last season.
She knew it was certainly possible as the regular season drew to a close, but for Bayus, making the leap at home meant so much more.
“That’s what I’ve been aiming for and working for for a few weeks now to make sure I get it on our home court, so I’m honestly so grateful to have had the opportunity to get it on the field at home and nowhere else, Bayus said. “While it would be great to take it anywhere, it’s just an even more amazing feeling.”
While some high school athletes play multiple sports, Bayus only played volleyball throughout her high school career and only fell in love with the game during college gym class.
Since then, she has always played with the current senior group, which has led to a natural chemistry on the pitch and allowed the Bulldogs to thrive.
“I think time is definitely a factor, once we have all this time together it’s much better to perform on the court because in volleyball there are three tasks to do,” Bayus said. “As elders, we all have those roles, so it makes the communication between us so much better because we can trust each other, because we’ve had that bond for so long.”
Bayus had 10 digs in the win, with second Molly Stuart earning 17 service points, with Reagan Price tallying four aces and two blocks. Senior Tara Lytle registered 16 kills and classmate Maggie Pavlansky had 18 assists.
Fourth-seeded Lakeview (20-3) won all three sets 25-6, 25-8, 25-11.
“I’m very proud of Maddie, she’s come a long way. She works very hard and loves to play volleyball,” said Bulldogs coach Heather Guthrie. “She went at the start of the season this year to get 1,000 digs, she knew what she had to do. She and I sat down and broke down how many kills she needed to get every game per set. and she tried to achieve it every time she walked on the floor.
Moving up to Division III this season, the Bulldogs are eyeing a potential district title after failing the past few seasons.
Tuesday night was their first stop.
“(Grand Valley) was really disjointed, they’re in our seats, and we just had to keep working around that and improve our connections a bit, but overall I think we played pretty well,” said Pavlanski. “All of our hitters did pretty well tonight, we were pretty consistent overall, we didn’t make a lot of mistakes so that helped, our connections were good so that’s good.”