Baylor looks to stay hot in Big 12 play

Freshman middle hitter Jaelyn Jackson goes for the kill on Sept. 20 at the Ferrell Center against the University of North Texas. The Bears took the match in four sets, 25-14, 25-18, 26-28, 25-23. Photo Credit: Liesje Powers | Photo Editor

Baylor volleyball returned to its winning ways on Saturday in Morgantown with a four set win over the Mountaineers, 25-22, 25-16, 22-25, 25-21. The Bears were led by another outstanding performance by redshirt junior outside hitter Katie Staiger, who finished the match with 18 kills. Baylor, although drastically undersized amongst other Big 12 schools, recorded a season high 11 blocks to help propel them to victory.

“Anytime you can get a road win in the Big 12, it’s a good thing for us,” said head coach Ryan McGuyre. “I thought we could have played a bit cleaner to finish it off sooner, but on the road, we’ll always take the W.”

Baylor will now turn their attention to a Wednesday night matchup on the road against the Iowa State Cyclones. They enter the match riding a two match-winning streak, the latest a three set sweep over the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Iowa State enters the contest seventh in the Big 12 at 2-4, but boast a 6-3 record at the Hilton Coliseum.

To continue success on the road, it starts with the things that Baylor has been working on the entire season: the fundamentals.

“We need to see continued focus on our serving and passing. We need to see an increase in our blocking,” McGuyre said. “We need to continue to get a little bit better production from all of our hitters.”

History does not sit on the side of the Bears in this matchup. Under head coach Christy Johnson-Lynch, Iowa State has made the NCAA tournament each of the last 10 seasons, including a 19-3 career record against Baylor and won the last three meetings. The 2015 season script followed suit with the Cyclones sweeping the Bears in Waco and winning in four sets in Ames later in the season.

On the offensive end, sophomore outside hitter Jess Schaben leads the Cyclones in kills with 212 and is averaging 3.5 kills per set. Redshirt freshman defensive specialist/libero leads the Cyclones defensively with 178 digs on the season.

Road matches always provide a new and different challenge and Hilton Coliseum will provide a raucous atmosphere Wednesday night. The Cyclones welcomed a season high 3,620 fans against Texas Tech, and with the match being aired on ESPNU.

With their history against the Cyclones and the tough road crowd, the Bears are still extremely confident coming into the match.

“Iowa State is going to be a tough team to beat,” sophomore outside hitter Ashley Fritcher said. “But I think executing the game plan is going to be good for us and we can take them out quick.”

First serve is set to be for 6 p.m. tonight at the Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. The Bears will look to put an end to the Cyclones two match winning streak and earn their 17th win of the season.