By Cody Soto
Baylor volleyball used a powerful presence at the net and a huge comeback to defeat Iowa State in five sets Saturday night at the Ferrell Center.
The Bears (12-11, 2-6 Big 12) dropped the first two sets and took the last three to beat the Cyclones 20-25, 19-25, 25-16, 25-21, 15-10. Baylor took its first win over a Big 12 opponent for the first time since a five-set victory on Sept. 27 against Kansas State and snapped a six-match conference losing streak.
“I was so proud of the ladies. They put it all out there, and that’s what you want to see: an all-out effort on every play,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “We were hustling and never let up. That’s what broke Iowa State’s back.”
With the win, the Bears took their first win over Iowa State (11-8, 3-5 Big 12) since Sept. 23, 2009, and ended a nine-match losing streak to the Cyclones. Baylor also won its first come-from-behind win since its five-set victory over TCU in 2010.
Junior middle hitter Adrien Richburg led the Bears with 14 kills at the net with a .333 attack effort. She was joined by junior outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard with 12 kills and sophomore middle hitter Sam Hill with 11.
In the back row, four Baylor players hustled for double-digit digs. Munch-Soegaard had 24 for her first double-double of the season. Junior outside hitter Andie Malloy added 19 digs.
“It’s ridiculous. Andie [Malloy] and Thea [Munch-Soegaard] in the back row were getting balls that I thought hit the ground,” Hill said. “It really kept the game alive for us and gave us a fighting chance every play.”
Hill led a dominant effort at the net with 10 of Baylor’s 16 blocks. Senior outside hitter Nicole Bardaji added six to steal momentum from the Cyclones.
“To finally get the blocking turned back around was so satisfying,” Hill said. “We came out and fought for it. We didn’t want to lose again because we’re tired of losing. ”
The Bears opened up the match with a 10-5 deficit after the Cyclones used a powerful defense and sharp kills to soar ahead. Things didn’t look much better in the second set. After exchanging the first eight points, the Cyclones took control once again and used a .122 effort over the Bears to cruise along with the lead
Down two sets at the break, Baylor used a .303 hitting effort and an early 8-3 lead to put them in the position they wanted. Bardaji used a block to put the Bears up by six, and Iowa State was forced to call a timeout at 15-5. The Bears did not let up, and downed the Cyclones in the third set 25-16 after a huge kill by Richburg.
“The block started happening because of our serves,” Barnes said. “We’ve consistently talked about serving tough, and if we do that, then we’re able to put the opponent in a predicable position and we can start blocking.”
The Cyclones led 11-8 in the fourth set, and the Baylor blocking game did not go away. Malloy, Bardaji, and Hill made big plays to take a 16-14 lead and force an Iowa State timeout. Big saves in the back row kept plays alive and gave the Bears a crucial 25-21 fourth set win to force a fifth set in Waco.
After dropping the opening point, Baylor used kills by Malloy and Munch-Soegaard to go up early in the set. A block by Bardaji opened up the lead and forced Iowa State to continue playing from behind. After a long two hour match, a solo block by Munch-Soegaard gave Baylor an exciting 15-10 win in the final set to take the match 3-2.
“Andie Malloy wasn’t having her best game offensively, but she was digging in the back row really well, so it was crucial other people stepped up,” Barnes said. “I think the player of the match was Thea [Munch-Soegaard]. She played really steady, and she hasn’t played much front row since being injured.”
The Bears will hit the road and head to Lubbock to face Texas Tech. Baylor will pause Big 12 play next weekend but will head up to Lawrence, Kan., Nov. 5 to play Kansas at 6:30 p.m.