By Collin Bryant | Sports Writer
Baylor volleyball (8-3) won its first match in the Jason’s Deli Baylor Classic by beating Texas State (8-4) in four sets, 25-27, 25-10, 25-13, 25-21.
The Bears got off to a quick start in the first set against the Bobcats opening up a 9-3 lead.
However, the Bobcats battled back through the middle of the set, tying things up at 24. The Bears pulled ahead 25-24, but the Bobcats answered right back to tie it at 25. The Bobcats would capture the opening set 27-25 on Bobcats’ senior middle blocker Jaliyah Bolden’s final kill.
Both teams went back and forth at the beginning of the second set. Once again, the Bears pulled ahead going up 12-7.
Staiger, leading the Bears in kills, added seven more in the second set, putting her kill total up to 12. The Bears continued to get into a rhythm offensively, running away with a 25-10 second set victory.
The Bears got off to a solid start in the third set going up 10-4, while Staiger continued to add to her kill total, bringing it to 18. Fanning closely followed with 10 kills.
With Baylor leading 15-8, it had a point taken away after losing a challenge review, but the ruling did not slow the Bears down, as they went on to take the third 25-13 after scoring on their final four possessions.
Looking to put the Bobcats away in the fourth set, the Bears got off to a slow start going down 4-0. The Bears continued to stick around though, tying the score up at eight.
The Bears finally took back the lead on the next possession going up 9-8, but started to trade points with the Bobcats back and forth. Freshman setter Hannah Lockin scored an ace on the team’s 12th point that led to a Bobcat time out.
After the timeout, the Bears caught fire offensively, scoring on six of their next seven possessions. The Bobcats were resilient however, bringing the set within striking distance at 19-20. After losing another challenge, the Bears got refocused with a kill by junior outside hitter Aniah Philo that put the Bears back up 22-19. The Bears ultimately put the game away with one last kill from Staiger, who finished with 23 kills total in the match.
Head coach Ryan McGuyre said the team’s resiliency is what helped them bounce back after dropping the opening set.
“You know we didn’t panic, sometimes things happen,” McGuyre said. “We definitely opened the door for them to steal the first set, but I didn’t think we had to make any severe adjustments. We just had to execute a little bit to finish a couple of the rallies.”
Staiger said that after the team settled down in the second set, the offense, especially the passing from Lockin, fueled the Bears’ attack.
“I think that after that first set, everything started flowing,” Staiger said. “It all started with the pass, but Hannah was setting me up so well, and her location was perfect all night.”
Staiger said that the Bears need to continue to sharpen up their game as they head forward into the second day of the tournament as well as into the beginning of conference play.
“I think honestly just playing clean, and then again never getting comfortable, because you know we will be playing good teams,” Staiger said. “Just knowing that we have to play 100% and never stopping early or anything like that.”
The Bears look to close out the Jason’s Deli Baylor Classic strong as they host St. John’s (7-5) 11:30 a.m. Saturday and UTSA (1-8) at 7:00 p.m. Saturday in the Ferrell Center.