By Shehan Jeyarajah
To cap off of a disappointing and injury-plagued season, Baylor volleyball lost their final match of 2013 against No. 1 Texas in Austin. The Bears lost 25-20, 25-16 and 25-14 to finish their season 12-20 overall and 4-12 in the Big 12.
Senior outside hitter Zoe Adom shined in her final match in the green and gold. Adom finished with 16 kills and five digs on a .278 hitting percentage in the match. Fellow senior defensive specialist Kayci Evans led Baylor with eight digs in her last match as a Bear.
Freshman setter Morgan Reed paced the Bears with 30 assists and three kills. Junior middle hitter Nicole Bardaji added nine kills and a block.
For Texas, junior outside hitter Haley Eckerman led the match with 20 kills and 9 digs on a .588 hitting percentage. Eckerman did not post a hitting error. Senior outside hitter Bailey Webster added 11 kills and four blocks on a .308 hitting percentage. Sophomore middle blocker Molly McCage led the match with seven blocks.
Baylor finished with 12 wins on the season and only 4 conference wins. Both of those marks are the worst posted by head volleyball coach Jim Barnes since his first season in Waco back in 2004.
For the second year in a row, Adom led Baylor in kills. This year, she posted 3.17 kills. After being named All-Big 12 First Team honors last season, she was named Big 12 Honorable Mention this season.
Sophomore setter Amy Rosenbaum and freshman setter Morgan Reed each posted over nine assists per set during conference play. Sophomore libero Mackenzie Mayo led Baylor with 3.01 digs per set.
Baylor lost two of their top players to injuries this season. Freshman standout Katie Staiger was lost for the season against Cal Poly with a knee injury. Barnes expected Staiger to be a major piece on the offensive side.
Sophomore outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard was also lost for the season after sustaining a foot injury. In all, Munch-Soegaard missed 15 matches for Baylor. During conference play, she was arguably the best player on the team, leading Baylor in digs with 2.63 and second in kills with 3.14 per set.
The silver lining for Baylor is the injuries allowed young players to get Big 12 experience who may not have otherwise. The Bears will return eight players who started nine matches or more this season, as well as their primary libero.
Baylor will also add two highly rated outside hitters who were unable to be on the court this season for Baylor.
Andie Malloy will be a sophomore next season after redshirting this season after transferring from Iowa State after the 2013 school year. Malloy played for the 2013 Women’s Junior National Team during the 2013 FIVB Volleyball Women’s U20 World Championship.
As previously mentioned, Staiger was forced to miss the year after acquiring a season-ending knee injury during her second collegiate match. Before going down in the fifth set, she had already accumulated 15 kills, six digs and three blocks. She also impressed at the annual Green vs. Gold Scrimmage when she posted a dozen kills.
This season will be remembered as a rebuilding campaign for the Bears. Out of the eight players and libero with nine or more starts, seven of them were a sophomore or younger this season. With the experience gained this season, Barnes is confident that Baylor volleyball will be in a position to compete in the Big 12 for a NCAA Tournament berth.