Baylor volleyball struggles late, manages victory

Sophomore middle hitter Shelly Fanning sets the ball to her teammate last night at the Ferrell Center against the University of North Texas. The Bears would take the match in four sets, 25-14, 25-18, 26-28, 25-23.

Jordan Smith | Sports Writer

The Baylor volleyball team took control early last night at the Ferrell Center to make its way past the University of North Texas, 25-14, 25-18, 26-28, 25-23.

“We started out great both of the first two sets. We got to get some people in and see what they could do,” said head coach Ryan McGuyre. “We definitely fell out of rhythm over the course of the match. We weren’t very terminal with our attacking. The lesson is, once you’re in the flow, you’ve got to fight hard to stay there.”

The Bears (11-4) took command early in the first set, using their premier blocking abilities to their advantage. While the Bears had eight blocks and covered on 33.3% of their attack opportunities, the Eagles (6-9) converted a -9.1% of their team attacks, which allowed the Bears to take the first set 25-14.

With the momentum going their way, the Bears second set was almost identical to the first. Once again, the Bears had the advantage in the blocking category over the Eagles. They had 11 total blocks thus far compared to the Eagles four blocks in the first two sets. The Bears were able to capitalize on their kill ability, getting 23 of their 25 points in the second set from kills. The Bears won the second set, 25-18.

Redshirt junior outside hitter Katie Staiger and sophomore outside hitter Aniah Philo stepped up big for the Bears in the first two sets. They combined for 19 kills. The Eagles through the first two sets had a total of 24 kills for the entire team. McGuyre took notice of it and would keep Staiger and Philo in for the majority of the third set.

“Katie for sure is having an all-american season. I think it’s been a while since Baylor has had an all-american type player. But you know, front row, back row, blocking, Katie has been doing it all. It’s really special,” McGuyre said. “Aniah does great things for us on defense. She does a lot of those little things that people don’t recognize and appreciate, so it’s fun having that consistency in the back row. She’s got a live arm and when she gets a block she can choose where she wants to hit it.”

To start the third set, Baylor struggled and trailed for most of it. It took all the way up to the 23rd point of the set for the Bears to finally catch up to the Eagles and tie the set. From there it went back and forth, but Baylor took the lead 26-25. Although Philo and Staiger combined for a total of 20 kills in the third set, the Eagles were regained the lead and took the third set, 28-26.

Going into the fourth set the Bears looked to get the momentum going back their way. While neither team was able to dominate the scoreboard in the fourth set, it was the Bears in the end who pulled out the victory with a commanding end of the set to win the match 3-1.

Philo took a lot away from this match against the Eagles, but one thing in particular stood out to her about her individual performance was the need to stay confident.

“Staying composed was the biggest thing for me,” Philo said. “I got kind of rattled a little. You just have to stay composed and really just believe in who you are and what you can do. Staying confident was something that I kept with me until the end of the match.”

The Bears next match will be at 6:30 p.m. tonight against Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches.