By Cody Soto
Baylor volleyball looks to use its five-set win over Kansas State last weekend as a factor in tonight’s matchup against Texas Tech in the team’s Big 12 home opener at the Ferrell Center.
Behind 20 kills and four blocks by freshman outside hitter Katie Staiger, the Bears (10-5, 1-0 Big 12) stormed back after falling behind in the match to take the final two sets for the win in Manhattan, Kan.
Staiger was named Big 12 Rookie of the Week for her outstanding performance in Manhattan.
“It’s such a blessing to me that I was able to get an award that showed I worked during those hard months trying to recover from my ACL surgery,” Staiger said. “It showed me that I was able to come back from my surgery strong and reach my goal.”
Baylor gained confidence for its season after taking down Kansas State, which had been receiving votes in the AP Poll.
“That’s a really rough environment. Their fans are crazy, it’s loud, and it’s a real tight gym,” Staiger said. “It showed us that every single game is going to be tough. Every game is a battle this year, so we have to be ready to go.”
The Bears were coming off a three-game losing streak going into conference play and played without junior outside hitter Andie Malloy, who leads the team in kills.
“It was tough not having her there, but Katie had an amazing game,” sophomore outside hitter Sam Hill said. “Some of our freshmen, Ashley and Jana, stepped in in the back row and passed great. Everyone stepped up to what was needed to get the win.”
The team continues to look forward as it faces Texas Tech tonight. The Red Raiders (13-1, 1-1 Big 12) lost its first match of the season to West Virginia 3-1 on their home court Saturday night.
Texas Tech currently leads the Big 12 in kills per set (14.04), assists per set (13.38), and digs per set (16.75). Baylor sits right behind them in second for kills and third for both assists and digs, respectively.
“They’re a hot team and every team in the Big 12 can win at a high level, and no one is going to take each other for granted,” head coach Jim Barnes said.
Baylor trails the all-time series 26-46, but the Bears swept the Red Raiders in straight sets in their last meeting in Waco last season.
The Bears look to bring their top defense to the floor against a powerful Texas Tech offense, starting with their blocking and limiting mistakes on serve receive.
“This team is more resilient and we’ve bounced back this year,” Staiger said. “Instead of letting other teams roll over and take us, we are going to going to battle back.”
In tonight’s match, Baylor will participate in its annual AVCA “Dig Pink” event in an effort to promote breast cancer awareness. The team encourages fans to participate in the event by wearing pink to the match.
Also, the first 100 Baylor students who attend and sit along the court endline will receive a regulation-sized volleyball marked with the Baylor logo. With the promotions, Baylor hopes to continue its hot start in conference play.
“We are optimistic about our schedule this year we feel we can get on top and win,” Barnes said. “It’s crucial that we pull together another win against Texas Tech. They bring a lot of fans and so we really need some green and gold to get out here and drown out the red.”
The Bears play Texas Tech at 7 p.m. today at the Ferrell Center. in the second game of Big 12 conference play this season.