Baylor volleyball goes 1-2 in Baylor Classic tournament

Baylor Volleyball vs UTABy Shehan Jeyarajah
Sports Writer

Baylor volleyball hosted the Baylor Classic tournament this weekend at the Ferrell Center in Waco. The Classic consisted of matches against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane, UT-Arlington Mavericks and Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bears finished with a record of 1-2, with a win against Mississippi State in their final game.

“The early part of the season has been a building process for us,” head volleyball coach Jim Barnes said. “When there are only one or two contributors returning, it’s hard to learn how to play together right away. There is a learning curve.”

Baylor lost their first match against Tulsa University in straight sets. Sophomore outside hitter Laura Jones led the game with eight kills and senior outside hitter Zoe Adom finished with seven kills.

Baylor finished with a hitting percentage of .019 for the match and finished with 37 digs, compared to Tulsa’s 49. Tulsa hit .330 for the match. Freshman outside hitter Erica Bohannon led the way with 12 kills.

The second match was a 3-1 loss against UT-Arlington. Adom posted a season high with 19 kills for Baylor. Jones contributed with 11 kills.

Baylor had a total of 58 combined errors and struggled against UTA’s defense. The Mavericks finished with 16 team blocks, including 12 block assists from senior middle blocker Charmaine Whitmore. The Bears took an exciting second set 27-25, but struggled to maintain their energy, as they only scored 12 points in the third set on -.071 hitting percentage.

“We have to be more consistent,” Barnes said. “Just because we get one big kill, we can’t celebrate and then back it up with two errors. We have to keep consistency to put runs of points together.”

Baylor came back to take the final match of the tournament 3-1 against Mississippi State. Adom led the Bears with 18 kills and four total blocks. Laura Jones and Adrien Richburg each had eight total blocks.

Sophomore outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard took over in the final two sets, finishing with 13 kills in that span. She had 18 kills and 13 digs for the match.

Baylor won behind their defense. For the match, they held Mississippi State to .162 hitting percentage, including 15 total team blocks. They also set a season high with 72 total team digs.

“If we play great defense, it puts pressure on the other team,” Barnes said. “Then they start making errors, like Mississippi State did.”

Adom agreed that defense was the key to their win.

“Our defense really stepped it up this game,” Adom said. “We had blockers getting to their spots and stepping up, which allowed our back row to be more aggressive.”

Junior defensive specialist Hope Ogden came in and made a variety of hustle plays to keep Baylor in the game.

“My team was just on fire,” Ogden said. “It was good to have the opportunity come in and bring energy to get us going.”

Tulsa freshman outside hitter Erica Bohannon won MVP of the tournament after finishing with 45 total kills and hitting over .400 in all three games.

UT-Arlington senior Charmaine Whitmore won the defensive MVP award. She finished with 26 total blocks in the tournament.

Adom was the sole Baylor representative on the All-Tournament Team. Mississippi State had freshman right side hitter Kimmy Gardiner, sophomore outside hitter and Taylor Scott named to the All-Tournament Team.

For Tulsa, Bohannon, senior outside hitter Kellie Culbertson and junior setter Baily Clampitt made the All-Tournament team.

Whitmore and junior outside hitter Taylor Gross represented UT-Arlington.

After the tournament, Baylor stands with a record of 2-5. The Bears play a match against Texas State tonight.

Texas State is 7-2 on the season, with wins against Lamar, SMU, Quinnipiac, Houston, Northwestern State and Prarie View A&M.

Baylor returns to the Ferrell Center to host the Baylor Invitational Tournament on Friday and Saturday.