By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
After escaping with a tough four set win against Nevada on Thursday, Baylor volleyball split its final two matches of the Outrigger Resorts Volleyball Challenge.
The Bears were unable to hold on to a two set advantage against Hawaii on Friday, falling 25-18, 14-25, 25-18, 17-25, 14-16.
However, Baylor responded by coming back from being two sets down to knocking off No. 10 BYU 21-25, 22-25, 25-18, 28-26, 15-10, giving the Cougars their first loss of the season.
The win over BYU was Baylor’s first win over a top 10 team since 2009.
Against Hawaii with the score tied at 10 in the opening set, Baylor began to find its groove offensively. The combination of redshirt senior outside hitter Katie Staiger and freshman outside hitter Yossiana Pressley led the way with five and three kills respectively.
Hawaii rebounded quickly, notching the second set 25-14 behind seven Baylor errors and 15 kills from the Warriors.
Baylor got right back in the third, taking control early on its way to winning the set 25-18. But Hawaii had the answer, taking care of the Bears 25-17 in the fourth to force a decisive fifth set.
In the fifth, neither team was able to take control, as they exchanged points back and forth. Hawaii earned its first match point at 14-13 but Pressley saved the match as she recorded her 18th kill of the match to give the serve back to Baylor. But after a successful attack from junior outside hitter McKenna Granato gave Hawaii its second match point, an error from the Bears at the net sealed the 16-14 win for the Warriors.
Granato led Hawaii with 22 kills while senior middle hitter Emily Maglio added 18.
Pressley led the way with 18 kills for Baylor, while Staiger added 16 kills. Junior outside hitter Aniah Philo led the Baylor defensively with 20 digs.
On Saturday, Baylor put together its most impressive three sets of volleyball to date in order to pull off the upset against No. 10 BYU.
Baylor head coach Ryan McGuyre said it was the five-set loss to College of Charleston on Sept. 2 that helped give the team confidence that it could overcome a two set deficit.
“I think we were ready (for BYU),” McGuyre said. “We got bit by a (five-set loss) just last weekend right before coming here, so we knew it could happen for us.”
Despite two competitive sets from the Bears, BYU managed to build a two-set advantage, taking the first 25-21 and the second 25-22.
In the third, the momentum began to shift towards Baylor. The Bears took the early advantage and slowly extended its lead over the course of the set. Two kills from Staiger and one from redshirt sophomore middle hitter Shelly Fanning gave the Bears the third set 25-18.
BYU head coach Heather Olmstead said her team had opportunities to put Baylor away, but tough losses like this one are bound to benefit the Cougars down the road.
“We learned a lot about ourselves today and the kind of focus it takes to win a match,” Olmstead said on BYU’s official athletic site. “We had opportunities to close it and didn’t get it done. Baylor played fantastic defense and made it really hard for us to get kills. We’ll keep working hard to get better.”
In the fourth, the teams went back and forth, unable to gain more than a one-point lead all the way up until the end.
Following an ace from Staiger, Baylor had set point at 25-24 but a service error tied the set again. Fanning delivered a kill but BYU responded with one of its own, knotting the score again at 26.
Sophomore setter Braya Hunt then gave Baylor its third set point at 27-26 and Pressley sealed the fourth set with a kill through the Cougars’ defense.
The fifth set started back and forth in similar fashion to the fourth set. However, once Baylor grabbed the lead at 5-4 on a kill from Philo, it never gave it back. Consecutive kills from Pressley put the lead to 10-6. Kills from senior outside hitter Camryn Freiberg and Staiger made it 12-8.
BYU managed two more scoring chances, but by then Baylor got the match point at 14-10. Staiger completed the comeback and ended the match with her match-high 26th kill.
Staiger once again finished with a double-double, adding 14 digs to her 26 kills. Pressley tied her season-high with 18 kills and Fanning added 12. Philo only had seven but had 18 digs.
After coming off the bench, Hunt finished with 29 assists while freshman setter Hannah Lockin led the way with 36 assists and 10 digs. Senior libero Jana Brusek led the defense again, talling 31 digs.
As well as Baylor played offensively in the final three sets, McGuyre said it was the defense and ball control that completed the comeback.
“Our defense was the difference,” McGuyre said. “We were getting great touches and aggressive moves versus other passes.”
Baylor (6-3) returns home after a 10-day road trip to take on LSU at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Ferrell Center. The match will air on Fox Sports Southwest Plus.