By Krista Pirtle
The Baylor volleyball team is off to Vegas for the weekend as they wrap up nonconference play in the UNLV Classic.
The Classic is a round robin tournament featuring Baylor (8-3), San Francisco (4-4), Fresno State (4-4) and UNLV (5-4).
Baylor is fresh off a 3-0 loss to TCU and is 2-2 for the past week. Conference play begins Wednesday, and the Bears still feel the need to fine-tune their game before they take on the Big 12.
“We need to serve more aggressively and put up good defense,” junior middle blocker Torri Campbell said. “We need to improve on the little things.”
“We need to work on our transition game,” senior setter Brittany Ridenour said. “As a setter, I need to work on connecting with my hitters.”
This tournament provides the prime opportunity for a 3-0 run before conference play.
For Baylor, there is much potential for the remainder of the season. Campbell hasn’t had an error in her last 71 total attempts, totaling 31 kills to hit .437 over 12-plus sets. Assisting her on the front line is freshman outside hitter Adri Nora, who leads the team with 3.04 kills per set after setting a career high with 14 kills twice in her last five matches and at least 10 in four of the last five.
Defensively, with her first dig against UTEP last weekend, senior libero Allison King broke the BU career digs record of 1,575 set by Cory Sivertson (1991-94). King’s total now sits at 1,654.
The Bears’ first foe will be San Francisco, which has won five of its last six matches, winning its home tournament and going 2-1 at Washington State.
The leading attacker is Vendula Strakova, who averages 3.05 kills per set and is hitting .310. On defense, Valentina Zaloznik averages 1.22 blocks per set and Rebecca Kopilovitch is the back-row leader at 3.79 digs per set.
Fresno State will await the Bears for the second match of the Classic. The Bulldogs have followed each loss with a win and vice versa for a 4-4 record. Outside hitter Marissa Brand has 130 more attempts than any teammate and leads with 4.0 kills per set. FSU appears to run a 6-2 offense as two setters have at least 130 assists and have played all 27 sets.
Baylor will wrap up the weekend against the host, UNLV. The Bears and Rebels have one common opponent, Northern Colorado, which beat UNLV and lost to BU. UNLV boasts five players that average 1.68-2.60 kill per set on offense and gets 4.00 digs per set from libero Taylor Richard.
Tournaments are great atmospheres for improving both team skill and chemistry.
“Our chemistry has greatly affected our play,” Ridenour said. “We work hard for each other. Our chemistry is what sets us apart.”
The UNLV Classic will be the Bears’ fourth tournament this season. In their previous tournaments, Baylor has gone 2-1, 3-0 and 2-1.
After the Classic, Baylor’s conference schedule begins with a home game against Oklahoma at 7 p.m. Wednesday.