Volleyball hosts Bear Invitational

Junior middle hitter Tola Itiola awaits an incoming serve at the Bears' match against West Virginia on Oct. 22, 2014, at the Ferrell Center. Photo credit: Lariat File Photo

Fresh off a second-place finish at the Rams Classic last weekend, Baylor volleyball returns home to host the Hampton Inn Waco North Baylor Invitational tournament.

The Bears play Sam Houston State in their home opener at 4 p.m. today at the Ferrell Center. First-year head coach Ryan McGuyre said he is confident heading into the Bears’ game against the Bearkats.

“I’m looking forward to playing at home … we learned a lot of things that we can work on this past weekend,” McGuyre said. “The foundation is there;. I like how we fought and battled in every single match [of the Rams Classic]. The girls expected to win and felt like they could win.”

Senior setter Amy Rosenbaum is coming off her first double-double of the season. She tallied 30 assists and 10 digs on Sunday. Rosenbaum talked about today’s game marking her last home opener of her collegiate career.

“It’s my last first match at home so I’m just really excited to show what we’ve been doing [this off-season] to the crowd,” Rosenbaum said.

Rosenbaum is not the only Bear looking forward to being back at the Ferrell Center this season.

Junior setter Morgan Reed also said she was eager to show the hometown crowd what the alleged “new look” of Baylor volleyball is all about.

McGuyre is pleased with the team’s development from the first tournament of the season. Having successfully attained his first win as the new head volleyball coach, McGuyre now looks to get his first win at home.

He was hesitant to admit it, but said there’s a different atmosphere when playing at home.

“Whether you’re playing away [or] home, it shouldn’t matter,” McGuyre said. “But there’s definitely a comfort level when you’re in your home gym. The way we serve and the way we block is still reflective of the way we practice. I think when you’re comfortable, you’re going to revert to the things that you’re doing [consistently].”

Amidst the success, McGuyre believes there’s more improvement that can take place among his youthful squad which features six freshmen.

“Offensively, we can be a lot stronger and a lot better,” McGuyre said. “We did some good things defensively as far as lining up hitters with our digs … and I like the progress we’ve made individually on defense.”

The first year head coach said the team needed to work on blocking but praised them for some sets where great blocks were made.

The blocking aspect of the team seems to be a theme for the Bears as Reed also cited blocking as one area in need of improvement. Rosenbaum agreed with her coach’s critique but added her own as well.

“We’ve been focusing on tougher serves and really being a threat from the service line,” said Rosenbaum. “think that will take our game to the next level.”

Rosenbaum said the new directions under McGuyre brought in different training methods. So far, the new coaching style has been widely accepted by the players and are beginning to show a bit of payoff, she said.

“We always talk about trusting our training, so I think it was a testament to how we’ve slowly given up our old ways and trusted in what he’s brought into the program,” said Rosenbaum. “So I think it was a foreshadowing to what the season’s going to be if we trust him and his expertise.”

The Bears continue their tournament tomorrow with a doubleheader against Coppin State at 10 a.m. Saturday and Cal Poly at 7 p.m. Saturday.