Nathan Keil | Lariat Sports Writer
The confidence and excitement is palpable as the Lady Bears’ volleyball season opens this weekend with the Hampton Inn & Suites Baylor Invitational at the Ferrell Center.
“There’s nothing like the feeling of getting to play with these people that we’ve been putting so much work in for the past seven or eight months,” said junior outside hitter Katie Staiger. “So just getting back out there and getting to compete for real.”
Baylor will welcome the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, Prairie View A&M and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi to this year’s invitational field.
The tournament will serve as a good test for the Lady Bears who boast a lot of depth they will certainly need after being overwhelmed with a slew of injuries over the past few weeks.
Despite the long list of injuries and the challenges they present, head coach Ryan McGuyre is confident his group will elevate their game and be able to compete on a daily basis, beginning this weekend.
“It’s trying to have to that comfort level of, hey, here’s who our starters are gonna be, here’s the rotation, here’s who plays next to each other, here’s the sets you want to complement one another, here’s who passes next to each other,” McGuyre said. “It makes it more challenging, but we’ll be alright. From top to bottom, we have a lot more depth.”
This weekend will be the first opportunity for the strong incoming freshmen class to showcase their talent before the Baylor faithful. Both returning players and the coaching staff have been quick to praise this year’s class.
“They’re very good,” said sophomore middle hitter Shelly Fanning. “They’re really athletic. I like the things they bring to our team.”
The Lady Bears hope to continue the success they had in the 2015 Baylor Invitational when they went 3-0, defeating Sam Houston State, Coppin State and Cal Poly along the way. They will take on the University of Texas Rio Grand Valley first, beginning 6 p.m. tonight at the Ferrell Center.