By Krista Pirtle
Baylor volleyball stunned the No. 25 Oklahoma Sooners, bringing home a 3-1 victory (26-28, 27-25, 25-22, 25-22.)
This match featured 50 ties and 23 lead changes and is the first conference road win for the Bears.
This was Baylor’s first win over a ranked opponent since Dec. 5, 2009, at No. 9 UCLA.
“This win is important for our team’s confidence to go on the road and beat a top 25 team,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “It sets us up for reaching our first goal, and that’s getting to the NCAA Tournament.”
Both the front and back lines for Baylor played resiliently.
Senior middle blocker Briana Tolbert led the action at the front with a career-high 19 kills at a .436 hitting percentage.
Two other Bears finished with over 10 kills: sophomore outside hitter Zoe Adom and freshman utility Adri Nora with 15 and 12, respectively.
“Bri (Tolbert) was just unstoppable tonight, she just had that refuse-to-lose type attitude, and it inspired her teammates,” Barnes said. “King did a real solid job anchoring our serve-receive and our back-row play. Offensively, we got a huge tonight from Nora, and Zoe really stepped up to give us some big kills when we needed them.”
Junior setter Kate Harris recorded yet another double-double and her fifth match over 50 assists with 51 and had 17 digs.
Four players in the back row followed her lead with double-digit figures.
Senior libero Allison King had her 27th consecutive match in double figures with 20 digs followed by senior outside hitter Qian Zhang with 19, senior defensive specialist Jordan Rice with a season-high 17 and freshman defensive specialist Hope Ogden with 11.
Junior middle blocker Torri Campbell led the defensive efforts at the net with five blocks.
In the first set, Baylor went on a 5-0 run to break a tied game at 10 featuring a service ace by Zhang and two kills by Tolbert.
The Bears then led 21-16, but an Oklahoma 8-2 run changed things around as the Sooners led 24-23.
Baylor didn’t give up easily, holding off set point twice, but Oklahoma found a way and captured the first set 28-26.
The second set seemed almost like déjà vu as Baylor broke a game tied at 10 with a 4-1 run with a pair of Tolbert kills.
As Baylor led 21-17, Oklahoma recaptured the lead off a 5-0 run to make it 22-21.
The Bears scored three of the next four as the Sooners held off set point two times, but Baylor went on to win due to a Campbell kill followed by a block assist to make it 27-25.
“I thought we did a great job of bouncing back after the first set, and it started with us being confident and executing those moments,” Barnes said. “We talked about shrinking each moment into just one point, and I thought we did a great job of that over the last three sets.”
After the break, Baylor erased a 5-2 deficit by a 4-0 run on Campbell and Adom.
Eventually, the Bears led 21-19.
Due to a Nora kill and two Oklahoma attack errors, Baylor held off the Sooners and closed the door with back-to-back kills from Adom to end it 25-22.
The final set featured 17 lead changes alone. After a kill and block assist by Nora broke the tie at 20, a block assist and back-to-back errors by Oklahoma put the Bears in position.
A block by Tolbert and Harris sealed the victory for Baylor.
The Bears will be back in action 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Austin against the No. 8 Texas Longhorns and will be televised on the Longhorn Network.