By Cody Soto
Baylor volleyball fought with resilience and earned a pivotal 3-1 win over Big 12 foe TCU on Wednesday night in the Ferrell Center.
The Bears (14-13, 4-8 Big 12) used a .244 advantage for 68 kills to bury the Horned Frogs 25-23, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23. Baylor out-hit and out-dug TCU (15-12, 4-8 Big 12) on both sides of the ball to avenge their four-set loss in Fort Worth on Oct. 4.
“It wasn’t always pretty on our side, but the team’s been working really hard and it was good to see players step up and put in the extra work,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “It was good to see us come up and win at a clutch time.”
Freshman outside hitter Katie Staiger downed 19 kills with a .375 attack effort to lead all players. Junior outside hitter Andie Malloy had her 16th double-double of the season with 14 kills and 16 digs. Middle hitters Adrien Richburg and Tola Itiola added 11 kills in the frontcourt for the Bears.
Junior setter Amy Rosenbaum had 53 assists in the win, 18 more than TCU’s Alexia Heist. Freshman libero Jana Brusek and junior outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard added 14 digs, and freshman libero Ashley Myer contributed 13 digs in the back row.
“We had people colliding everywhere and falling over people in the back row, but our defense really shined against TCU,” Richburg said.
Despite the win, Baylor had 28 hitting errors and nine service errors to keep the Horned Frogs in each set.
Baylor and TCU exchanged the first 12 points in the opening set, and TCU took the lead with big blocks on the left side and poor passing by the Bears. A service ace by senior libero Hope Ogden tied up the set at 17-17, and Baylor took a 20-19 advantage behind a TCU hitting error. The offense fired away with a .222 hitting percentage and took the opening set 25-23 behind a Richburg kill.
Baylor continued to have a .222 attack effort in the second set, but a strong TCU offense took an early 13-9 lead. The Bears fought back and brought it within two after Itiola slammed it to the floor and forced a TCU timeout. Senior outside hitter Tori Cox picked off the first set point, but a poor return by Brusek gave the Horned Frogs the second set, 25-21.
Baylor and TCU played a tight third set and tied 10-10 early. A Baylor offensive resurgence was able to capitalize, including a service ace by Malloy to take a 14-11 lead. Baylor only led by three points or less for a majority of the set. A huge kill by Staiger forced a TCU timeout with a 23-21 Baylor lead. A bad set by TCU gave the Bears the 25-21 third set win to lead the match 2-1.
“We’ve really been working on closing out sets these last few days,” Staiger said. “So much can happen in those last five points. Many games end in five-point spreads, so we really had to focus this week.”
The Bears shined early in the fourth set and forced a timeout with a big block by Richburg to lead 9-4. The Horned Frogs picked off the five-point lead and tied up the set at 13-13. TCU took a 20-19 lead, but a huge effort by the Baylor backcourt helped senior outside hitter Nicole Bardaji smash a game-ending kill to win the set 25-23 and the match 3-1.
“The momentum was on our side tonight,” Richburg said. “We want to use this confidence and focus on lessening our errors to get ready for Kansas State on Saturday.”
The Bears get right back up and face No. 16 Kansas State at home on Saturday. Baylor will look to take its second consecutive win over the Wildcats after they rallied for a five-set win in Manhattan, Kan., earlier this season. The match will begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Ferrell Center.