The Baylor volleyball team swept their way to the 2016 Baylor Classic Championship this past weekend, increasing their overall match win streak to six. The team improved to 10-4 overall with wins over Virginia, College of Charleston and Washington State University.
Redshirt junior outside hitter Katie Staiger was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and was joined on the all-tournament team by senior setter Morgan Reed, who took home the Best Setter Award.
The Bears began their march to a championship on Friday with a 25-20, 25-14, 25-14 win over the visiting Cavaliers.
After struggling to put Virginia away and watching the Cavaliers tie the first set at 19 a piece, the Bears reeled off the final six points to close out the first set. The Bears continued to use the theme of big runs in sets two and three, finishing set number two on a 9-2 run. Instead of finishing set number three on a big run, the Bears jumped out to an 8-2 lead and stepped on the gas to eliminate any chance Virginia had at mounting a furious comeback. Staiger led the Bears with 13 kills, and sophomore outside hitter Ashley Fritcher contributed 9, while Reed added 25 assists.
Baylor continued their hot streak on Saturday when they swept the College of Charleston, 25-23, 25-21 and 25-17. Despite never being completely dominant in the match, the Bears always kept the Cougars at arm’s length. Baylor once again relied heavily on the attacking skills of Staiger and junior middle/outside hitter Camryn Frieberg, who contributed 16 and 10 kills respectively. Sophomore outside hitter Aniah Philo helped pace the Bears’ defensive effort with 18 digs.
Baylor needed every ounce of energy left in them to put away the Washington State Cougars Saturday night in five sets, 25-23, 21-25, 25-21, 22-15, 15-9.
Washington State University of the Pac-12 conference provided the ultimate test for the Bears, using their tall front line and blocking capability to force the Bears into being cognizant and tactful at the net.
“Washington State was a brick wall, ” said Philo. “And because of that, you couldn’t just swing through the block. You’ve got to be smarter, find your holes and work around the block.”
The Cougars continued to keep the pressure up and forced the Bears into 32 errors in the match, including 10 apiece from Staiger and Philo. However, Baylor rallied around each other and strung together an 8-3 run to close out the match in the fifth set. Staiger finished the match with 16 kills, Reed contributed 46 assists while Staiger and junior libero Jana Brusek led the defense with 21 digs apiece.
Baylor head coach Ryan McGuyre was incredibly pleased with the effort and composure that his Bears showed throughout the match.
“It’s a testament to our character,” McGuyre said. “This is a significant win because of that composure.”
As non-conference play wraps up and Baylor gears up for Big 12 play, McGuyre knows this is the type of effort and resiliency he needs from his team to be successful.
“This is how we’re going to have to win all our Big 12 matches,” McGuyre said. “This is how we’re going to play; this how we’re going to fight. If our opponents don’t bring it, we’re going to be ready to jump all over them before they can catch in and then weather the storm like we did tonight in a way that’s consistent and gives us a chance to win.”
Baylor will have little time to rest before they face a stiff test in the Big 12, as they host 23rd ranked Kansas State Wildcats on Saturday. However, the Bears will conclude their non-conference play with a home game against the University of North Texas at 7 p.m. tonight at the Ferrell Center and a match at Stephen F. Austin on Wednesday.