By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Baylor volleyball opened its play in the Outrigger Resorts Volleyball Challenge by grinding out a four set win over Nevada 25-10, 25-13, 23-25, 29-27 Thursday night at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu, HI.
After the first two sets, everything was going Baylor’s way as it looked to be in store for a straightforward three set win.
Baylor kept its foot on the gas pedal, continuing to get good swings and convert at a high level. Three straight kills from Staiger, junior outside hitter Aniah Philo and senior middle hitter Camryn Freiberg closed out the opening set for the Bears.
In the second, the narrative was the same: too much Baylor offensive power. The Bears quickly jumped out to an 8-3 lead and continued to build its lead with a mix of successful attacks and Nevada errors.
Redshirt sophomore Shelly Fanning, Freiberg, Staiger and freshman outside hitter Yossiana Pressley tallied four straight kills to get Baylor a set point at 24-11. Following two errors by the Bears, a kill from Philo gave Baylor a two set to none advantage.
But Nevada did not go away quietly, going toe to toe with Baylor in the third.
After going back and forth and being unable to put together a string of points, Nevada finally got some separation from Baylor with the scored tied at 19. After a Baylor error, consecutive kills from freshman outside hitter Kayla Afoa put the Wolfpack up three at 22-19 before putting the Bears away 25-23 to force a fourth set.
Nevada got off to a fast start in fourth, jumping out to a 7-4 lead early, but Baylor had the answer, responding with five points of its own to go up 9-7 in the set.
The Wolfpack then took control of the set, getting three set points at 24-21 before Baylor rallied. It started with a kill from Pressley and then an error at the net from Nevada. Staiger then tied the set at 24 with another kill.
Baylor then held off two more set points at 25-24 and 26-25 before getting back-to-back kills from Staiger and Philo to close the match with a 29-27 win in the fourth set.
Staiger and Lockin both had double-doubles for Baylor. Staiger led the way with 19 kills and 16 digs while Lockin had 52 assists and 11 digs. Pressley added 13 kills, Fanning 12. Freiberg led the defensive attack at the net, recording seven blocks, while senior libero Jana Brusek had a match-high 22 digs and Philo added 19.
Baylor (5-2) will take on host Hawaii (2-5) at midnight tonight.