Baylor aces local weekend tournament

No. 22 middle blocker Melissa Jones hits the ball during the lady bears’ second game against Texas-Pan American on Saturday in the Ferrell Center. The Lady Bears celebrated with a 25-21 victory over the Broncs.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Krista Pirtle
Sports Writer

The Baylor Bears volleyball team swept the competition at the Fairfield Inn North Baylor Classic at the Ferrell Center last weekend.

Their first foe of the tournament was McNeese State, which they swept 3-0 (25-10, 25-16, 25-22.)

“Our service game was great,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “We put them on their heels. We set the tone early, especially since we were setting our second options throughout this match. We weren’t going to Torri Campbell and senior middle blocker Briana Tolbert. We were going to our right side, Alyssa Dibbern, and our outsides, and Qian [Zhang] did a great job on the left side. It was good to see us go to our second options and still patrol the match.”

Late in the third set, fifth year Melissa Jones recorded her first kill for her career. The crowd loved it.

“We were just waiting for it the entire time,” Tolbert said. “It was awesome. It was so fun to see [Jones] in there, to get that kill, to be on the volleyball court in here, and not the basketball court.”

Jones ended one match with a kill and started the second against the University of Texas Pan-American, where the Bears came out on top 3-0 (25-9, 25-19, 25-19.)

The Bears recorded 43 kills, led by Tolbert with 11 at .579, followed by No. 16 freshman utility Adri Nora with eight at .353 and No. 5 freshman outside hitter Nicole Bardaji with her career high of eight as well at .538.

“We have a strategy where we try to set the pins more in these games,” Bardaji said. “We were just trying to stay more consistent and hit it high. Today was really playing together when things got tough.”

Baylor held UTPA to only 20 kills for the match. No. 8 senior libero Allison King led the way defensively with 17 digs and No. 10 sophomore defensive specialist Kayci Evans followed with 12.

The underclassmen stepped up and gained the experience they needed.

“We got some good performance out of Nicole,” said Barnes. “She has been playing very well in practice. I thought Kayci came out and played real well. She doesn’t get to play a whole lot. Adri is one we keep waiting to see. She could possibly be a real special player.”

The final game of the tournament was the first five game set the Bears have played thus far. They fought back from a 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 18-25, 25-18, 15-9.)

“This game we had to come back and fight so it really showed our heart,” No. 1 senior setter Brittany Ridenour said.

Ridenour garnered All-Tournament MVP while No. 3 sophomore outside hitter Zoe Adom and No. 23 Tolbert earned All-Tournament honors.

For the match, Baylor finished with 61 kills at .233 and Northern Colorado had 60 kills at .193.

Adom led the way for the Bears offensively with 19 kills at .308, followed by Tolbert and No. 7 junior middle blocker Campbell with 12 each at .320 and .310 respectively.

Baylor plays another tournament this weekend in Beaumont.