Volleyball gearing up to host Baylor Classic

11 Volleyball_Scrimmage_Aug272013_0716By Shehan Jeyarajah
Sports Writer

Baylor volleyball hosts the Baylor Classic tournament this upcoming Friday and Saturday involving three matches in two days.

The Bears are coming off a straight set win in their home opener against SMU on Tuesday night.

“It was relief to get the win,” senior libero Kayci Evans said. “We wanted to get the win so bad. Our poor performance over the weekend topped it off. We were going to take it out on somebody and it just happened to be SMU.”

Baylor will look to compound on its success against SMU in the Baylor Classic this weekend.

“We learned a lot through handling the different adversities this weekend,” said Evans. “We’re focusing on this weekend, trying to apply what we learned early in the season to our game.”

Baylor started the season with a two-hitter rotation, but head coach Jim Barnes has adjusted with a new strategy.

“After our first couple of games,” sophomore middle hitter Adrien Richburg said, “We really wanted to add more defense.”

Amy Rosenbaum agreed.

“When you run a one setter offense, you have a little bit more tempo because the same hitters are hitting off the same hitter,” Rosenbaum said.

The results were readily apparent against SMU.

Baylor volleyball plays three matches in two days over the weekend: Friday against Tulsa, Saturday morning against UT-Arlington and Saturday night against Mississippi State.

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane is currently 3-1 with wins against Missouri State, Northeastern and Oral Roberts. Senior outside hitter Kellie Culbertson leads the two-time defending Conference USA champions. Culbertson has been named twice to the All-Conference USA Second Team,
Historically, Baylor leads the series 6-1, but their last meeting was in 2004.

Baylor’s second match of the weekend is against in-state rival UT-Arlington. UTA is 3-1 so far with wins against Abilene Christian, Grambling State and Louisiana Tech. Sophomore defensive specialist Caitlyn Cooney was recently named MVP of the UTA Hilton Invitational after averaging 4.69 digs per set. She set a career high with 29 digs against ACU.

UTA leads the historical series with Baylor 19-7 and their last meeting was in 2004.

Baylor completes the tournament with a matchup against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have a record of 2-2 with wins against Southeast Missouri State and Arkansas-Little Rock. Sophomore libero Roxanne McVey leads the SEC so far with 98 digs and 7.00 digs per set. Freshman opposite hitter Kimmy Gardiner was named SEC Freshman of the Week after a weekend with 64 kills, six assists, 52 digs, five blocks and a 4.57 kill per set average. Baylor leads the all time series 4-2.

Despite the positivity heading into the weekend after sweeping SMU, the Bears were hit with unfortunate injury news. Freshman outside hitter Katie Staiger is officially out for the season with a knee injury. She is expected to apply for a medical redshirt after the season.

“Volleyball is such an injury-prone sport,” Rosenbaum said. “We’re honestly just trusting in God’s plan. We have a lot of depth at outside hitter, we have people who can step up.”

Baylor plays three matches this weekend. They play against Tulsa at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, UTA at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday and Mississippi State at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday. All three matches will be played at the Ferrell Center in Waco.