Bears defeat KU for first Big 12 win

No. 21 middle blocker Brianna Tolbert leaps up to spike the ball during the third set in the game against Kansas on Saturday in the Ferrell Center. The Lady Bears beat the Jayhawks 3-1.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Daniel Wallace
Sports Writer

Baylor volleyball notched its first Big 12 win of the season on Saturday against Kansas.

The Bears downed the Jayhawks 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-17, 25-22) to come out of the Ferrell Center victorious. Baylor avoided starting conference play 0-4 with the win.

The first and final set victories for the Bears came in comeback style. BU faced a 22-20 deficit in the first set and a 22-18 deficit in the fourth set. Both times, though, the team was able to rally for dramatic victories.

“It wasn’t easy tonight. We had to come back from down three or four points late in the game,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “I think we showed a lot of character and a lot fight, and it paid off. This (Kansas) is a good team, and they are very talented. We finally played with the sense of urgency that we have talked a lot about. That’s what we need to maintain.”

The net defense and back-row play contributed to the Bears’ victory. Senior Briana Tolbert had a season-high seven block assists, while five other players tallied 10 or more digs. Senior Qian Zhang was one of those five players, with 21 digs.

Redshirt sophomore Zoe Adom paved the way for the offense, totaling 17 kills. Her play in this game was exemplary of what the coaches saw in her at practice, and their decision to put her in the game paid off.

“[Adom’s production] was crucial,” Barnes said. “We saw some things in practice, and we thought she could come in and have a good night. She didn’t make many errors, and that’s a big part of what we ask from Zoe.”

Adom attributed her success on the court to her teammates and spoke of the amount of teamwork it took for her to have that kind of success in the match.

“It was literally the passes,” she said. “We can’t get a kill without a great pass and a great set, so I just worked with it.”

Barnes was pleased with the overall effort of the team and said she admired the way it played with a sense of urgency. When the team was playing urgently, Barnes said he was happy to see what he had been preaching that in practice all week.

“(Kansas is) a good team,” he said. “They beat the number six team in the country, Minnesota. So they are very talented. We knew they would come back and make us earn every point. To our credit, we started playing with that sense of urgency we talked about. Once we started playing with that sense of urgency, we’d get the edge back. That’s what we had to maintain.”

In terms of kills, Baylor (12-6, 1-3) outscored Kansas (11-4, 0-3) 58-52. The team was also able to hold the Jayhawks to a .136 attack percentage. BU had 10 blocks on the evening, as compared to KU’s five.

“We focused on not winning, and just getting each point,” she said. “Just working on getting each point. We didn’t want to think about getting the whole game won so that’s all we did. It worked for us.”

A 12-match win streak over the Red Raiders will be on the line on at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Ferrell Center for the second game of a four-match homestand.