By Cody Soto
Baylor volleyball took a 4-set win over Rice (25-20, 22-25, 30-28, 25-17) Tuesday night at the Ferrell Center after dropping a 3-set loss to Portland Saturday.
Baylor (3-1) took its second consecutive 4-set win over Rice after beating the Owls on their homecourt during the 2013 season. Junior outside hitter Andie Malloy led all hitters with 20 kills and also contributed 15 digs for Baylor. Sophomore middle hitter Tola Itiola had a career-high 16 kills and 4 blocks.
Junior setter Amy Rosenbaum had a season-high 48 assists and senior libero Hope Ogden added 14 digs for the Bears. Freshman Jana Brusek also contributed in the back row with 9 digs. Baylor had a .247 attacking percentage compared to Rice’s .197 in the win.
“This win means a lot to us because we started applying a lot of the principles that we were talking about such as starting fast, staying consistent, finishing strong, and going all out to try to win all the rallies,” Itiola said.
Baylor finished the night with 10 team blocks opposed to Rice’s six blocks in the win, which added pressure to Baylor’s defense.
“At times, we were really solid with our block and got some nice touches,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “At times it was a bit sloppy, so it’s a work in progress, but there were some more positive blocks tonight.”
Baylor started strong and soared to a commanding 6-2 lead to force a Rice timeout within the first 10 points of the match. Baylor maintained the lead the rest of the match, but almost gave up the lead before Barnes called a timeout at 20-18. Baylor then went on a 5-2 run to take the first set 25-20.
Baylor continued to stay in front and led 18-16 in the second set before the Owls went on a 7-1 run, which left the Bears in a 23-19 hole. Baylor dropped the second set 25-22, which sent them into the locker room tied 1-1.
The Bears started the third set cold and were forced to expend a timeout after a 4-0 run by Rice. Baylor continued to trail in the set until the Bears made a 5-1 run to force extra points, which tied up the game 24-24. Both teams had their share of set points, but it was the Bears who held on to the lead and took the third set 30-28.
“We all were really focused on all of our responsibilities to make sure we were playing all-out defense and not letting any balls hit the floor,” Itiola said. “Amy and the rest of the team did really well and so I had to do my part.”
The fourth set was a tough one for the Bears, but Baylor used a 3-0 run to take the lead, and ultimately the match. Baylor never let up in the final stretch, which was clinched by a powerful frontcourt presence and two aces by junior outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard to take the fourth set 25-17.
“It was a hard fought match and that’s what we wanted to see with our ladies competing when the pressure was on, and that was the best part of the match,” Barnes said. “Rice made us battle for sure.”
The Bears will travel to San Marcos Wednesday where they will face Texas State at 6:30 p.m. in Strahan Coliseum for the Bobcats’ home opener. They will also play Wichita State on Thursday at 5 p.m. in San Marcos. They return back to the Ferrell Center on Tuesday, Sept. 16 to face Northwestern State.