By Cody Soto
Baylor volleyball put up a big fight Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center, but ultimately fell to No. 2 Texas in four sets.
The Bears fought a fearless match despite the outcome, junior setter Amy Rosenbaum said.
“There’s something about playing Texas, and we play so free because they have everything to lose,” Rosenbaum said. “We weren’t scared to come out and play them, and we really proved that we could compete with them.”
The Bears (14-15, 4-10 Big 12) won the opening set over the Longhorns (20-1, 13-1 Big 12). It was the first time they took a 1-0 lead over Texas since 2010.
Despite hitting .075 as a team, Baylor held the top team in the Big 12 to a .175 hitting percentage and forced 22 hitting errors in the loss.
Junior outside hitter Thea Munch-Soegaard led the Bears with 16 kills and a .324 attack percentage. Munch-Soegaard recorded her third double-double of the season with 18 digs in the back row.
“It was really easy for me to put a ball up to her,” Rosenbaum said. “It didn’t have to be the perfect set for Thea [Munch-Soegaard] to put the ball away. That’s the best thing about a setter knowing I didn’t have to put up the best ball to allow her to get the kill.”
Junior outside hitter Andie Malloy struggled Wednesday night and only recorded eight kills on 42 attempts for a -.048 hitting effort.
Freshman outside hitter Katie Staiger added seven kills in the loss, and Rosenbaum used six kills to have the second best attack percentage for Baylor. Rosenbaum also had 33 assists and 10 digs in the loss.
Rosenbaum had trouble connecting with some of Baylor’s hitters Wednesday night, but Munch-Soegaard and her picked up the slack in the offensive effort.
“We couldn’t get any offense out of our middles and our left side hitters,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “Thea Munch-Soegaard really provided offense, and so did Amy [Rosenbaum].”
The Bears rallied for 84 digs against the Longhorns, and freshman libero Ashley Myer contributed 25 digs in the back row. Malloy had 16 and senior Hope Ogden had eight digs.
“Our block was getting some great touches on their hits,” Munch-Soegaard said. “We had to adjust to their quick tempo as time went on, but we really competed.”
The Bears held All-American Haley Eckerman to eight kills on a .091 hitting effort, forcing the Longhorns to turn to middle hitter Chiaka Ogbogu. The sophomore had 11 kills and five blocks against the Bears.
“Coming out and playing Texas is always so much fun because we have nothing to lose,” Munch-Soegaard said. “They’re good, and it was great to play fearless.”
The Bears came out roaring and used a .220 attack effort to keep the Longhorns on their toes. Malloy nailed a cross-court kill to put the Bears in front 5-4. An ace by Texas tied the set up at 8-8, but a powerful kill by Staiger pushed the Bears to an 11-9 lead. Rosenbaum dumped the ball in the frontcourt to force a Texas timeout with Baylor leading 18-12.
The Bears led as much as eight before the Longhorns used a 5-0 run to stay in the set. Malloy drilled a ball from the back row to end the Texas effort. Staiger gave the Bears their first set point with a kill, and an Eckerman service error gave Baylor the 25-21 first set win.
“I thought we came out with a lot of fight. We fought all night. I think mostly what we are proud of is the team came out determined to play every point hard and stay under control,” Barnes said. “We came out in the first set and played real clean and had 16 kills and only five errors. If we keep a game at five errors or less, we beat every team – even Texas.”
Texas fired back and held the Bears to a .-.100 hitting effort on only seven kills and 11 errors. A Texas kill forced a Baylor timeout as the Bears trailed 12-7 in the set. Staiger put the ball away to give the ball back to the Bears, but the Longhorns kept slipping away.
Munch-Soegaard nailed a shot down the line to pull the game within five, but a block by Texas later in the set pushed the lead to 10. A hitting error by junior middle hitter Adrien Richburg gave Texas the 25-14 second set win.
Baylor looked sloppy in the opening of the third set, and Barnes was forced to call a timeout after Texas’s Ogbogu pounded a kill and put the Longhorns in a 4-0 lead. A huge kill by Richburg ended the run, and a Baylor block brought the Bears within two.
A block by Texas forced another Baylor timeout as the Longhorns led 13-6, and Rosenbaum connected with sophomore middle hitter Tola Itiola to score. Eckerman used an ace to push the lead to 20-13, and a kill by Texas ended the third set 25-17.
Munch-Soegaard recorded the first kill for Baylor in the fourth set, and a block by Malloy tied the match. Rosenbaum had another block to allow Baylor to inch forward in the set. A nice serve-receive by Myer set up a big kill by Malloy, and Baylor shook off two set points before falling 25-19 in the fourth set to drop the match 3-1.
“Despite the loss, this match really proved that we’re still fighting for the season, and we’re not going to give up,” Rosenbaum said. “We’re still here to play.”
The Bears will take their final road trip of the season as they face West Virginia in Morgantown, W.Va., on Saturday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.