By Cody Soto
Baylor volleyball plays its second of four straight home matches today, and will need to have a strong showing in its remaining five games for a NCAA tournament berth. The Bears (13-13, 3-8 Big 12) have not been selected for the tournament since 2011.
“We are going to have to perform and give it our all in order to make the tournament,” junior setter Amy Rosenbaum said. “We need to give it 100 percent so at the end of the day, we can say that we had no regrets. Each match is an opportunity to turn this season around.”
Baylor is on a two-game conference-losing streak after being swept by Oklahoma and Kansas last week. Senior libero Hope Ogden said the team played well in Saturday’s loss to the Sooners with the exception of reoccurring mistakes.
“There were too many errors in Saturday’s game,” Ogden said. “We hit and dug like we were supposed to, but serve-receive and hitting errors hurt us. As a team, we have to be more composed and relaxed so we don’t tighten up at the end of sets.”
The Bears are tied at the bottom of the conference standings with West Virginia and Texas Tech, and all three teams have three wins against Big 12 opponents.
No. 5 Texas stands at the top of the standings with a 10-1 record, and Oklahoma is behind the Longhorns with an 8-3 record. Behind the Sooners are Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State and TCU. All five teams are separated by one win from each other.
The Bears’ conference wins over Kansas State, Iowa State and Texas Tech speak a lot about the strength of the conference, Ogden said.
“Everybody is beating each other, so you really have to show up to every game,” Ogden said. “Even though we don’t have the conference record that we want, the wins show that we’re a fighting team and can keep up both offensively and defensively.”
Baylor will need to take advantage of its three remaining home matches before hitting the road to face West Virginia and Iowa State at the end of the month. The last team that went to the NCAA tournament had an 18-15 season record.
“We have a lot of potential to close out this season strong, but we need to play more under control to keep up with Big 12 teams,” Ogden said. “It’s crunch time. We are going to have to make a big effort in our final games.”
Consistency is a key factor in the closing stretch for Baylor volleyball, and it starts with everyone being on the same page throughout the entire match, Rosenbaum said.
“Everyone is willing to fight and put everything on the line because it all comes down to who shows up on game day,” Rosenbaum said. “We don’t have to play out of our minds to beat these Big 12 teams, but we need to be consistent on both sides of the ball. If the point doesn’t go our way, we need to be strong and get ready for the next one.”
The Bears play Big 12 foe TCU tonight in the Ferrell Center, and they look to take their fourth conference win for their tournament campaign. The Horned Frogs (15-11, 5-6 Big 12) defeated Baylor in four sets on Oct. 4 in Lubbock and have only won three conference games since then.
TCU comes into today’s matchup with a three-game conference win streak, including a big five-set win over Oklahoma on Nov. 5. Most recently, the Horned Frogs dropped a 3-0 decision to North Texas on Sunday.
“We have to make the extra effort on every play when we face TCU,” Rosenbaum said. “If we can keep the ball off the ground and execute every time we have an opportunity, then we have a good shot at winning.
TCU stands in second place in the Big 12 in service aces averaging 1.36 per set. Baylor will need to improve on their serve-receive game after allowing 10 service aces against Oklahoma on Saturday.
“TCU has a tough serve, and that’s a great strength for them, but if we can play well and get after it, then we can beat them at their own game,” Rosenbaum said.
Baylor volleyball hosts TCU tonight at 7 p.m. in the Ferrell Center. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Southwest.