By Meghan Mitchell | Sports Editor
With nine returners and eight newcomers to the program, the Baylor volleyball team looks to hold onto the momentum it had as during the off season as competition rolls around.
“We feel really good. I’m really confident in how we are doing this year,” said junior outside hitter Katie Staiger. “Everyone is really coming together and working hard.”
Coming off a 17-13 season under head coach Ryan McGuyre, the Lady Bears look to improve as they head into their first tournament.
“They have really impressed from day one,” McGuyre said. “It’s really a goal for us to be one team, to be one, to be like-minded. We are really finding our rhythm despite some injuries that have set us back a little.”
With the addition of assistant coach Jason Williams, McGuyre believes that his ability and experience coaching will be a great asset for the Lady Bears.
“Jason has been a phenomenal addition. He is a big part of why we improved so much. He is one of the best trainers in the country. He communicates to the girls in a way so that they can improve. He is like-minded in how he sees the game. He’s very relatable, easy to talk to. I think he is spot-on.”
To Staiger’s surprise, the team has been able to join together and grow stronger despite having many newcomers on the team and senior middle hitter Tola Itiola out with a knee injury.
“Tola is huge; she’s awesome. Luckily, she shouldn’t be out too long, so we should have her back for the majority of the season. But while it does stink, we have people who can step up and are getting a lot of playing time and doing well,” Staiger said.
With the upperclassmen stepping up and the newcomers bringing a wave of energy, McGuyre said he has high expectations for his team.
“They have been phenomenal since May 30 when all the girls got here,” McGuyre said. “I think we are looking forward to see the joy that’s going to come from playing the right way and the anticipation of what that might produce.”
The Lady Bears begin their season on Friday at the Ferrell Center, where they will play University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in the first round of the Baylor Invitational.