By Cody Soto
Baylor volleyball dropped a disappointing 3-1 loss to West Virginia Wednesday night inside the Ferrell Center 20-25, 21-25, 25-22, 19-25 to extend its six-game winless streak in conference play.
“We’re able to play well at times and be ahead of teams, but we don’t play consistently enough to finish teams off,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “Tonight, we didn’t serve very well, so they were able to run their offense how they wanted.”
The Bears (11-11, 1-6 Big 12) have now started Big 12 play with the worst record since 2005, Barnes’s second year at Baylor.
Baylor posted a .233 hitting effort but were unable to take down the Mountaineers (13-8, 3-4 Big 12) who brought to Waco the Big 12 kill leader: sophomore outside hitter Jordan Anderson. Anderson posted 19 kills to win the match.
Junior outside hitter Andie Malloy led all hitters with 20 kills and added 11 digs for her 13th double-double of the season. Freshman outside hitter Katie Staiger followed behind her with 15 kills, and middle hitters Sam Hill and Tola Itiola added nine and seven kills, respectively. Itiola led the Bears with an impressive .357 hitting percentage in the four set loss.
“Blocking in the first couple of sets wasn’t solid, myself included,” Itiola said. “We weren’t getting good touches on the block.”
Junior setter Amy Rosenbaum led all players with 51 assists in the loss. Hill posted four blocks at the net, but the Mountaineers put up 11 blocks over the Bears’ seven to lead at the net.
Four Baylor players had double-digit digs in the back row. Freshman libero Ashley Myer led the team with 12 digs, followed by freshman libero Jana Brusek with 11. Junior outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard also chipped in 10 digs in the match.
Serving crippled Baylor in the match. The team tallied seven reception errors and five service errors. West Virginia did not give up one serve to leave Baylor with no service aces in the game.
“We need to be a lot more consistent and have everyone on the same page at all times,” Staiger said. “We should have been able to get around their blocks more.”
The Bears started out neck-and-neck with the Mountaineers for the first 10 points but soon trailed the rest of the set. The Bears soared back into the match and forced a West Virginia timeout at 20-20. Five errors by the Bears gave the Mountaineers the opening set 25-20.
Disaster hit Baylor in the opening of the second set. The Mountaineers led 7-1 and maintained a comfortable lead throughout the set. However, the Bears fought back and tightened the lead. Unfortunately, Baylor could not gain enough momentum to force extra points and dropped the second set 25-21 and headed into the locker room down 2-0 in the match.
Then, it seemed as if another Baylor team emerged from the locker room to play the third set. The Bears played nice, clean and good volleyball to take a 17-10 lead before West Virginia was forced to call a timeout. The Bears were held to two set points but were able to take the third set 25-22 after a powerful kill by Malloy.
“We changed our blocking up in the third set and were able to slow them down at the net. In the rest of the sets, we couldn’t maintain that,” Barnes said.
Set four looked hopeful for the Bears early on as they kept up with West Virginia to tie 6-6. The Mountaineers surged on a 4-0 run to force a Baylor timeout, and the Bears could not put the pieces together to get back in the set. Powerful hitting by Staiger and Malloy slowly cut into the Mountaineers’ lead, and Hill put up a nice block to bring the game within two. Baylor headed back on the court down 22-19 and gave up three straight points for West Virginia to win the set 25-19 and the match in four sets.
“West Virginia is going to make you earn your points; they’re not going to give them to you by making mistakes. Our struggle is playing efficient enough,” Barnes said.
Baylor stays at home to host Iowa State on Saturday night in the Ferrell Center. Game time is set for 7 p.m.