By Shehan Jeyarajah
The 2013 season was a tough one for Baylor volleyball, filled with injuries and unfulfilled expectations.
The Bears lost freshman phenom Katie Staiger in only the second match of the season and sophomore outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard to a foot injury later, while struggling to a 12-20 record on the year and 4-12 in conference play.
Despite their underwhelming 2013 season, the Bears are set to bounce back in 2014. They lose outside hitter Zoe Adom, their leading point scorer, but return virtually the entire remainder of the rotation.
The Bears had a strong sophomore rotation that included middle hitter Adrien Richburg, Thea Munch-Soegaard, outside hitter Laura Jones, libero Mackenzie Mayo and setter Amy Rosenbaum. The talented class will head into 2014 with experience.
Munch-Soegaard ranked second on the team in kills and digs per set with 2.77 and 2.68 respectively. Jones was inconsistent at times but still posted a respectable 2.46 kills per set.
In addition, the Bears bring in elite outside hitter Andie Malloy, a transfer from Iowa State. Malloy was a big-time recruit out of Lovejoy High School in Allen.
Over the course of her high school career, she was named a 2011 Under Armour First Team All-American, ESPN top 25 volleyball player, MVP of the state tournament and led Lovejoy to four straight state volleyball championships.
Malloy, who was named to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team in 2012, sat out the 2013 season after transferring and will start at Baylor as a junior during the 2014 season.
She will bolster an outside hitter rotation that features returning starters Jones and Munch-Soegaard.
Baylor will also return freshman outside hitter Katie Staiger, a high school Club Volleyball All-American, who tore her ACL in her second match of the 2013 season. In the two matches she played, Staiger accumulated 21 kills.
Baylor will face a positional battle at the setter spot. Junior setter Amy Rosenbaum started 26 of the Bears’ 32 games, but Baylor head coach Jim Barnes opted to start sophomore Morgan Reed for the remainder of the season.
It will be a battle to watch as the season gets under way.
For the first time in years, Baylor has continuity in its rotation. Baylor volleyball’s 2014 talent was on display as the Bears went 8-2 in their 10 spring matches.
“It was a great way to wrap the spring, and I really felt like the entire offseason has set us up for a big 2014 season,” Barnes said. “We will be the most physical Baylor volleyball team to step on the floor come fall.”
If Baylor can continue its spring success to the season, they will have a chance to be one of the better squads in recent memory.
Baylor will open the 2014 season with a home tournament in August.