By Cody Soto
Baylor volleyball suffered a disappointing season in 2013. With a 12-20 overall record, the team finished Big 12 conference play in a tie for seventh place with a 4-12 record and ended on a four game losing streak.
With several key players sitting out due to serious injuries, the 2013 season became the first losing season for the program since 2007. However, things are looking up for Baylor volleyball this season.
After a successful spring, head coach Jim Barnes and his team returns to the floor with high hopes.
“Last year, we probably went through the biggest run of injuries we’ve ever experienced in the program,” Barnes said. “I think the biggest improvement is having everyone healthy and starting off with that.”
Junior outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard is coming back from a broken foot that forced her to miss the last 11 matches last season. Sophomore outside hitter Katie Staiger will also return to the lineup after suffering an ACL tear in the second match of the year.
“Having everyone healed has been awesome because we don’t have to worry about three people sitting out on the sidelines during practices and games, so that ups competition,” Munch-Soegaard said. “It helps everyone all the way around.”
Also joining the lineup are two transfer students: junior outside hitter Andie Malloy and junior setter Keili Harrison. Harrison is a transfer from San Jacinto College in the Houston area. Malloy was forced to sit out and redshirt last season after transferring from Iowa State.
“I’m ready and I’m excited for the opportunity to get out there on the court and working with my teammates everyday,” Malloy said.
Barnes said that he has depth at outside hitter, which will in turn help him make multiple lineups during matches.
“We can win Big 12 matches with different lineups,” Barnes said. “We can make multiple lineups and win with different people because we’re that deep.”
The offense will be at the hands of multiple setters. Junior Amy Rosenbaum and sophomore Morgan Reed will both see a playing time with a 6-2 offense, a system that rotates 6 attackers and 2 setters on the floor.
“The 6-2 system is one we’ve been working on for the entire spring and we’ve been doing it through two-a-days as well,” Barnes said. “The 6-2 makes us most powerful and biggest at the net.”
Defensively, senior Hope Ogden has earned the libero position after playing in 2013 as a defensive specialist.
“[Ogden] really grabbed ahold of that position and she’s a leader in that position as well,” Barnes said.
Barnes added three freshmen to the roster this season: liberos Jana Brusek and Ashley Myer and middle hitter Neka Cuppetilli. They could each see playing time with the depth that they add to the team according to Coach Barnes.
“There’s been bigger competition at every position than they’ve ever seen, so that’s a good sign that we have talent and a lot of depth at every position,” Barnes said.
Barnes and the Bears’ biggest goal is to make the NCAA Tournament by focusing on what’s going on right now.
“Today is the most important day,” Barnes said. “If we’re focused on today, the rest will take care of itself.”
Baylor plays its annual Green vs. Gold scrimmage at 6 p.m. on Tuesday before hosting the Hampton Inn Waco North Baylor Invitational Tournament this weekend at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor will face Abilene Christian Aug. 29 at 7 p.m. for its first match of the season followed by two matches Aug. 30 against Texas A&M Corpus-Christi at 10 a.m. and Portland at 7 p.m.