By Shehan Jeyarajah
After playing three of the top teams in the Big 12 to open conference play, Baylor volleyball will look to turn their season around in a road match against West Virginia in Morgantown tonight.
The Bears are currently 8-11 overall on the season after losing three straight against No. 25 Iowa State, No. 3 Texas and Kansas to open the season.
The young Baylor squad has been plagued with injuries all season, including losing freshman outside hitter Katie Staiger to a season-ending knee injury in the second match of the year.
Senior outside hitter Zoe Adom leads Baylor with 205 kills and 3.06 kills per set. Sophomore outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard is a near second with 2.73 kills per set and 2.64 digs per set. Sophomore setter Amy Rosenbaum paces the team with 9.97 assists per set.
West Virginia comes into the Baylor match 15-2 after opening the season on a 10-match winning streak, which in itself topped West Virginia’s eight-win season in 2012.
The Mountaineers come into Big 12 play with a non-conference record of 14-1, with their only loss being a sweep at the hands of Duquesne.
Heading into Big 12 play, WVU is 2-1 and tied for third in the conference after wins against Texas Tech and Kansas State early in Big 12 play. This marks an instant improvement for the Mountaineers, after going 0-16 last season in Big 12 play.
Freshman outside hitter Jordan Anderson has been key for West Virginia with 178 kills and 130 digs in only 46 sets. She leads the team in kills per set with 3.87 and is third with 2.83 digs per set. Sophomore outside hitter Nikki Attea is right behind Anderson with 169 overall kills and 2.77 kills per set.
Sophomore libero Anna Panagiotakopoulos leads the Mountaineers with 4.38 digs per set.
Sophomore setter Brittany Sample has contributed 10.49 assists per set and junior middle blocker Evyn McCoy is top 50 in the country with 1.25 blocks per set.
West Virginia is a team that struggles offensively, but they defeat teams with stifling defense.
Despite hitting only .206, WVU holds opponents to .139 overall. West Virginia averages 2.61 blocks per set, and forces opponents to commit more errors.
Baylor is 5-0 all-time against the Mountaineers including sweeping both matches last season.
Senior outside hitter Zoe Adom was key in the two victories a year ago, averaging 4.83 kills per set in the two wins. These are both different teams than last year though.
Baylor is a team that commits many errors and typically hits a poor percentage.
Throughout the season, the Bears’ success with digs has been crucial to success. Baylor will have a tough task against a team that averages two more digs per set than them.
Baylor will likely struggle on the offensive end against West Virginia, but may be able to make something happen on the defensive side.
This match may come down to a defensive battle, and that may work in Baylor’s favor.
Baylor will play West Virginia tonight in Morgantown.
The Bears return to Waco to play TCU at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at the Ferrell Center.