Bears win Big 12 home opener

Baylor's Women's Volleyball Team faced Texas Tech University at the Ferrell Center yesterday evening. They ended the evening with another victory for Baylor. Photo credit: Sarah Pyo

Baylor volleyball got back on track after sweeping the Texas Tech Red Raiders (25-22, 25-18, 26-24) Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center. The Bears are now 1-1 in conference play.

Although the Bears started off strong in the first set, the Red Raiders fought back, forcing the Bears to work hard for every point.

Both teams battled to take the first, but a kill by sophomore outside hitter Katie Staiger, sealed the deal for the Bears, winning the first set 25-22.

“We were really able to apply what we’ve been practicing,” Staiger said.

The Bears’ momentum continued into the second set. Even after losing two consecutive sets, the Red Raiders never backed down and gave the Bears a fight until the end.

After trailing by as many as five points in the third set, the Bears clawed back to tie the score at 22. Freshman middle hitter Shelly Fanning had a kill that proved to be a pivotal play in the Bears’ comeback in the third set.

With the crowd on their feet, the Bears faced two set points in favor of Texas Tech. Baylor denied Texas Tech the third set win and went on a four-point run to win the set 26-24, ultimately winning the match.

The Red Raiders’ defense, which has given teams trouble in the past this season, was broken down because of the smart play by the offense, said sophomore libero Jana Brusek.

“[Texas Tech was] really aware of where the defense was not,” Brusek said. “Overall, they’re very aggressive.”

Head Coach Ryan McGuyre said he felt his team played clean offensively. However, the energy in the middle of the third set got a little out of their control because they weren’t playing their game, McGuyre said.

“We know one way to play, and we got away from that a little bit,” McGuyre said. “Then we got back into it, and we were able to make plays and good things happened for us.”

Staiger earned her 500th-career kill after her fourth kill in the second set Wednesday. McGuyre said he was proud of Staiger for accomplishing the milestone.

“I want her to realize how great of a player she is,” McGuyre said. “Her kills are great. We love it and we need her heavy arm, but her special gift is just the energy she brings.”

“She’s one of those top athletes for me who helps me be in my right mind set and see the bigger picture and keep our standardshigh, but not lose sight of what is important in life,” McGuyre said. “She helps people find joy.”

Getting back on court after tearing her ACL freshman year was a refreshing experience, Staiger said. She credited God for her renewed strength after the injury.

“Coming back from that, it’s just awesome,” Staiger said. “God was able to heal me, and it feels better than it has ever before. Things like that make me really excited.”

After a great turnout from the Baylor fan base Wednesday night, Brusek and McGuyer said the fans were the main reason for the 3-0 victory over Texas Tech.

“The Fans were awesome tonight,” McGuyer said. “We need to find a way to get them closer to the court. We felt them, [and] it made a difference.”

Players also noticed the great support from the fans on Wednesday. Brusek said the turnout at the Ferrell Center definitely impacted the way the Bears played Wednesday.

“It was incredible to have such a strong fan base tonight,” Brusek said. “That honestly changes the whole atmosphere. It can change momentum as much as a big play can. We are so grateful for our fans, and it’s so fun to play for them.”

The Bears were able to get that first conference victory under their belt. After failing in their first conference game last week, the Bears were glad to return to the great form they had earlier in the season.

Furthermore, Wednesday night’s win keeps the Bears in a good position in the Big 12 conference standings.

“It was what we needed to get the ball rolling,” Brusek said.

The Bears go back on the road Saturday night, when they will face Oklahoma.