By Shehan Jeyarajah
Since arriving in Waco as Baylor’s new volleyball coach in December, RyanMcGuyre has brought a new level of intensity and expectation to the program.
“It’s really fast,” senior setter Amy Rosenbaum said. “We’re in the gym longer and are working through being tired.”
The recent hire was given the task of reinvigorating a volleyball program that became stagnant under former head coach Jim Barnes. The Bears reached only two NCAA Tournaments in 11 years under Barnes, but McGuyre is raising the bar.
“The expectation is that we want to win a national championship,” he said. “We want to do something to the best of our ability for something that is bigger than ourselves. The next day, we wake up and try to win the championship again and hope we’re one degree better than yesterday.”
McGuyre has three tenets for spring practice: Fast, focused and fearless. He is instituting longer practices to try and get every player to her physical peak. The players are also in the gym longer to work through mistakes.
“We want to make our players realize they have the freedom to fail,” McGuyre said. “Mistakes are going to be made in the spring, but we have to learn what the right mistakes are. When there’s a freedom to fail, I think they do things they have never done before.”
The team has made strides since McGuyre arrived on campus. Baylor played Big 12 rival Oklahoma in a spring match and pushed them to five sets. The Bears lost the two matches against the Sooners last season by a combined 6-1.
“It’s just a testament to where we are and where we’re going,” Rosenbaum said. “We had a ton of things to work on and we still managed to push the match them to five.”
Baylor lost four seniors, but brings back the majority of its lineup. The Bears boast five freshmen, four sophomores, three juniors and six seniors. However, with a new coach, experience may not necessarily be a strength.
“There’s a good healthy balance and returners and newcomers,” McGuyre said. “Really, it’s new for everyone, but we’ve got a lot of incredible leaders at every level who are servants.
McGuyre still has several months before the Bears start game action, but he is using spring practices to build for the future.
“With the tempo and rhythm, I don’t think we’ve reached our full potential yet,” senior outside hitter Andie Malloy said. “But if we keep working hard, we’ll eventually reach there. If we play to the best of our ability, we can pull out some big wins this season. “
McGuyre also has an added reason to stick around: A father of three, the McGuyres have moved around several times for jobs over the past few years.
“It’s been great for the family,” McGuyre said. “It’s been a few years of moving around a little bit, but this feels like home.
“This is a place we’re excited about establishing some roots.”