By Cody Soto
Baylor volleyball (9-2) took a 3-1 win over Northwestern State at the Ferrell Center Tuesday night in its first home match since the team’s 3-1 win over Rice on Sept. 2.
The 4-set win (25-20, 27-29, 25-22, 25-19) was Baylor’s fifth consecutive win over the Demons. The Bears now lead the all-time series 5-0. Baylor had also defeated Northwestern State in four sets during the 2013 season.
“We knew that they were ready to play us, and we just didn’t start out playing our game,” junior setter Amy Rosenbaum said. “Once we got out of our heads, we were able to play the right way. It was really a team effort towards the end of the match.”
Junior outside hitter Andie Malloy had a double-double with 15 kills and 17 digs for the Bears, followed by freshman outside hitter Katie Staiger with 15 kills, sophomore middle hitter Sam Hill with eight, and junior outside hitter Laura Jones with six kills and 13 digs in the 4-set win.
Jones and Hill received a significant amount of playing time in Tuesday’s match. Jones had only played in two games prior to the match, and Hill was listed as a redshirt sophomore coming into the season.
“It was so much fun getting out there and playing volleyball tonight,” Hill said. “The lineup is constantly changing, but everyone really stepped in and played the role that we were given.”
Junior setter Amy Rosenbaum led all players with 47 assists in Tuesday’s win. Senior libero Hope Ogden helped Baylor’s back row with 18 digs. Rosenbaum and Jones added 13 digs to the Bears’ 82 digs on the night.
Freshman libero Jana Brusek also contributed with 10 digs for Baylor.
The Bears’ 13 blocks overtook the match with Jones’s five blocks along with sophomore middle hitter Tola Itiola’s four blocks. Baylor ended the match with a .195 hitting percentage opposed to Northwestern State’s .103 effort.
The Bears got off to a shaky 0-3 start before tying up the game at 6-6 and surging on a 6-2 run to pull ahead for the rest of the set. The Demons (3-7) managed a 4-0 and 3-0 run to cut the Bears’ lead late in the set, but Baylor took the set with five straight points.
Staiger finished the set with a kill to give Baylor the 25-20 set win.
“Northwestern State really put the pressure on us and they were a strong defensive team,” Staiger said. “We had to be ready for the long rallies because their defense was so strong.”
The Bears took a 6-4 lead early in the second set before Northwestern State came from behind and tied it up 8-8. Both teams stayed close to each other and the lead did not go over three.
Northwestern State called a timeout behind back-to-back kills by Malloy and managed to shake off three set points before stealing the second set 29-27.
The Bears came out of the locker room hot and started out neck-and-neck with the Demons early in the third set. Baylor used a 5-1 run to give the team some breathing room and forced a Northwestern State timeout.
A big block at the net by Baylor forced another timeout after leading 22-17 in the set. The Bears were then held to three set points before taking the third set 25-22.
Baylor was able to use a .387 hitting effort to surge ahead in the fourth set and led 13-5 early. Northwestern State was able to use small runs to stay in the game, but it wasn’t enough for the Demons.
The Bears took control of the final points of the set and won the fourth set 25-19 behind a kill by senior outside hitter Nicole Bardaji to take the match 3-1.
“Overall, it was a very in-and-out game and we were out of focus at times and allowed Northwestern State back in. We won, but it wasn’t the effort that we wanted to see,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “Northwestern State passed and served really tough, so it kept us on our heels.”
Baylor will rest its five-game win streak before travelling to San Antonio and playing its final non-conference tournament this weekend.
The Bears will face LSU at noon on both Friday and Saturday, and finish with a match against UTSA at 5 p.m. All matches will be played at the Convocation Center in San Antonio.