Volleyball host Kansas in pivotal Big 12

Sophomore outside hitter Katie Staiger (4) winds her arm to spike the ball during a volleyball match between Baylor and Texas on Oct. 7 at the Ferrell Center. Photo credit: Sarah Pyo

The Baylor volleyball team looks to make a dent in in the No. 9 ranked and undefeated Kansas team at 7 p.m. tonigh at the Ferrell Center.

The Bears (13-5, 1-3) are ranked No. 30, which matches the volleyball program’s highest ever RPI ranking.

Although playing the undefeated Jayhawks (17-0, 5-0), the Bears have momentum going their way after sweeping Texas State last Friday.

“I think the Texas State match showed us when we are in rhythm, we can make some very great plays,” said junior middle hitter Tola Itiola. “We need to make sure that is a standard that we do every time. Even if something is not perfect, we still find a way to play smart and get the points.”

The Bears lead the all-time series 22-19, and are 14-6 when playing at home.

“They are very great athletic team,” Itiola said. “We just need to make sure we are ready to defend whatever comes our way.”

The Jayhawks are a tough offensive team with 849 kills so far this season, but the Bears still lead in that category with 892.

“We need to get better week-by-week in everything that we are doing,” said head coach Ryan McGuyre. “There are so many things that we can improve on that are exciting. Moving forward, we are going to play one way. We are going to get after it.”

“We can’t always control win or loss, but how we battle is really important to me and what we are doing. The wins are going to be a beautiful byproduct of us doing it the right way and playing one way regardless.”

Playing fearless is the key to coming out and playing strong, Itiola said.”

“Personally, its 100 percent effort in executing the game plan. That’s how I play fearless. Just 100 percent going for what we are told,” Itiola said. “I think it is a very great opportunity that we are all excited for and ready for. To play in front of Baylor Nation and just be able to play great, and pull off a win by playing hard and playing fearless.”

“I think we are all focused and we are all really excited for this game and making sure we’re executing and holding each other accountable on executing the things that we need to be doing to beat Kansas tomorrow. “

Being at home gives the team an edge, McGuyre said.

“It gives us that advantage and how it impacts different opponents,” McGuyre said. “It helps disrupt the opponents in them feeling confortable.”

“When you get to celebrate with family, it doubles that joy. We truly do want to play for an audience of one, regardless of external circumstances.

“We want to be great and have fun, and there is no better way than to do it with great fans that are loud, crazy and passionate. It’s a part of our way in respecting Baylor and the opportunity we have here to give our fans everything we have.”

The game will be broadcasted on FOX Sports Southwest and can also be viewed on the “FOX Sports GO” mobile app.

In tonight’s “Gold Out” match, Baylor encourages students and other fans attending the match to wear gold or yellow shirts to support the Bears.

Additionally, the first 100 students at the Ferrell Center will be given a special wristband to enter McLane Stadium early for the No. 2 Bears’ football game against West Virginia at 11 a.m. Saturday.