By Rachel Roach
The Bears wrapped up the season strong against Texas Tech Saturday night. Baylor volleyball won, 3-1 (25-16, 29-27, 26-28, 25-23) at home on senior night. Seniors Caitlyn Trice and Elizabeth Graham had 31 digs and 17 kills respectively.
“What we were hoping for is to end on a good note, especially for our seniors,” coach Jim Barnes said. “Texas Tech did not lay down. They kept fighting back and making us work for it. Finally we locked in and finished it out.”
On Wednesday, the Bears fell to Nebraska 3-0 in Lincoln.
Baylor’s defense out-blocked the opponents with seven total blocks to Nebraska’s five. Sophomore Torri Campbell led the team with five blocks. Graham racked up nine kills, and Trice had 10 digs. But Nebraska held the advantage in hitting percentage as they pulled away for the sweep.
The Bears turned things around when they played at home Saturday, honoring Ashley Byrd, Ashlie Christenson, Elizabeth Graham and Caitlyn Trice in their last game at the Ferrell Center. Baylor won the match 3-1(25-16, 29-27, 26-28, 25-23).
“[The seniors] are part of building this program, because they were a huge part of last year, having the best season in Baylor history,” Barnes said. “This year has been frustrating as far as we’ve been right on the cusp and had the potential to make a nice run right here at the end. And we’re told that we’re one game short of the NCAA Tournament, and that’s hard to swallow, because of how hard they’ve worked. But it doesn’t diminish what they’ve done for this program and what classy ladies they are.”
The Bears opened the match with a lead over Texas Tech, credited to Graham’s two kills and one from junior Allison King. A 5-0 then a 3-0 run brought the score to 23-14. Kills by junior Briana Tolbert and King wrapped up the set for the Bears at 25-16.
Texas Tech (4-25, 2-18) frustrated the Bears, playing them close in each of the next three sets.
In the second set, Tech gained a 4-0 lead from Amanda Dowdy’s back-to-back kills. Baylor followed suit, tying the score at 6-6 with kills from Christenson and Graham. With 12 ties and five lead changes, two kills by King followed by a kill by Tolbert tied the score at 24-24. Byrd later got a kill to force a 27-27 tie. Two consecutive kills from Tolbert finally clinched a 29-27 set victory.
Texas Tech gained a 10-6 lead in the third set, but kills from Tolbert and Campbell helped the Bears fight back and tie the score at 15-15. Once the Bears gained the lead at 26-25, the Red Raiders answered with a 3-0 run to win the set 28-26.
In the fourth set the Bears erased a 15-13 deficit to eventually win, 25-23.
After ending the season with a win, Graham received another honor by being named to the All-Big 12 Conference First Team. She is the seventh all-conference player Barnes has produced at Baylor and is the 15th Baylor player in Big 12 history selected for postseason awards.
With a .312 hitting percentage, Graham recorded the sixth best percentage for the Big 12 during the season. Graham also had more kills per set than any other middle blocker in the Big 12 at an average of 3.18.