By Shehan Jeyarajah
Despite finishing with 20 wins for the sixth time in program history, Baylor women’s volleyball fell just short of the NCAA tournament last season.
“Last year was a real bummer,” senior libero Kayci Evans said. “We didn’t finish how we wanted to.”
Sophomore outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard started last season as a freshman and ranked fourth on the team with 293 digs and fifth on the team with 184 kills. Munch-Soegaard has high expectations for the upcoming season.
“Win the Big 12,” Munch-Soegaard said. “That’s the big goal. We’re going to take it one day at a time and work our way to that, but we know we can do it.”
The Bears are ranked sixth in the Big 12 out of nine teams, but this Baylor squad has higher aspirations for the season.
“We got our eye on it this season,” said senior outside hitter Zoe Adom. “That’s our quote, our motto. We’re just going to work until we reach that tournament.”
The biggest question facing this team heading into 2013 is experience.
Baylor lost four starters to graduation last season, including top two overall scorers in right side hitter Alyssa Dibbern and middle hitter Torri Campbell. Out of the 16 players on the roster, only two are seniors.
What the Bears might lack in experience, they more than make up for in talent.
“This team is by far the fastest team we’ve ever had,” head volleyball coach Jim Barnes said. “I feel like Baylor football here with their receivers. This gym has been just incredible with the speed we have on the team and the shape we’re in is incredible. Athletically, we’re going to be able to match up with anybody, and speed-wise, I think we exceed any team we play.”
Returning for the Bears is the aforementioned All-Big 12 First Team member senior outside hitter Adom. She was recently named to the 2013 Big 12 Preseason Team.
“It’s an honor to be put up there with all the others girls in the Big 12,” Adom said. “I just love being a leader, a role model for my teammates.”
During Big 12 play in 2012, Adom led the team with 219.5 points, 199 kills and 3.37 kills per set.
Barnes noted that he has been experimenting with a 6-2 system for this team that he feels takes advantage of this team’s strengths. The 6-2 system has two setters on the court to take the pressure off each other and keeps six attackers in the extended rotation.
“Our strength is our pin hitters, and we gain an extra pin hitter in a 6-2. There’s always a left and right hitter along with your middle so the strengths we have on our team are focused on more in a 6-2.”
The Bears begin their season at Colorado State on Aug. 28. Baylor’s first home game is on Sept. 3 against Southern Methodist at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor hosts two tournaments this season in the Baylor Classic tournament on Sept. 6-7 and the Baylor Invitational Tournament on Sept. 13-14.
Baylor volleyball has two games nationally broadcast on ESPNU.
The first is on Oct. 2 against nationally ranked No. 1 Texas Longhorns and then on Oct. 30 at No. 20 Kansas Jayhawks.
Fans can get an early look at Baylor Bears volleyball during their annual Green and Gold intrasquad scrimmage at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Ferrell Center.