By Krista Pirtle
With Nebraska leaving the Big 12 for the Big 10, there is no set No. 1 for women’s volleyball.
“It’s more open than ever,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “Texas lost some key players. I think the team that keeps it together and stays healthy [will win the Big 12]. I don’t think any spot is set and the opportunity is set if the team puts it together.”
Last season, the Lady Bears finished 16-15 overall, ranking sixth in the Big 12. This year’s Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll places Baylor sixth out of nine teams.
Elizabeth Graham and Caitlyn Trice both graduated in the spring. Graham led Baylor in hitting percentage, kills and blocks while Trice became the first player in Baylor history with 600-plus digs in a season.
These shoes are big to fill, but the team for the 2011 season looks like the perfect fit.
Junior Torri Campbell was second to Graham in hitting percentage, kills and blocks.
Because both Nebraska and Colorado bid adieu to the Big 12, there is an opportunity for byes and the chance to play everyone in the conference.
“We’re allowed to get some byes in the conference race with the absence of Nebraska,” Barnes said. “The opportunity to play other teams besides the same ones, I think, is refreshing for the ladies.”
The Lady Bears start out their 2011 season competing in four tournaments. First on the slate is the Purdue Mortar Board Premier in West Lafayette, Ind. Baylor faces Purdue on Friday and then has two games on Saturday against the College of Charleston and VCU.
Their next tournament, the Fairfield Inn North Baylor Classic, will be held in Saturday Waco Sept. 2 and 3.
Big 12 conference play will begin Sept. 21 when Baylor hosts Oklahoma.