By Collin Bryant | Sports Writer
Baylor volleyball (10-3) swept St. John’s (8-6) in its second match of the Jason’s Deli Baylor Classic in Waco at the Ferrell, winning in straight sets 25-20, 25-13, 25-21.
Senior outside hitter Katie Staiger once again led the Bears offensively with 20 kills.
The end of the first match also saw Staiger break Baylor’s all-time kills record in the rally scoring era. The record was originally 1,547 set by Katie Sanders (2006-2009). Staiger only needed 12 kills to break the record and she scored 20 in the first match.
Staiger said she was very ecstatic that she broke the record, but also pumped for the implications for the program.
“It was very exciting, something I’ve been working towards for a long time, but kind of more so makes me think about how cool it is for the program and how good the program is right now,” Staiger said.
The Bears remained undefeated going into their last match against the University of Texas-San Antonio, who were 2-0 in the tournament as well.
Baylor defeated the roadrunners in four sets 25-18, 25-14, 18-25, 25-20.
Both the Bears and Texas State Bobcats traded points throughout the beginning of the first set. However, with the play of junior outside hitter Aniah Philo and Staiger, the Bears began to pull away toward the middle of set. With a 14-6 lead after seven straight points, UTSA called a timeout
The Roadrunners battled back, scoring on three of their next five possessions. However, the Bears continued to battle, once again pulling ahead at 20-11.
The tides began to shift as the Roadrunners gained momentum going on a 4-0 run, only to have a point taken away to put the Bears up 21-14. After a kill from freshman outside hitter Yossiana Pressley, the Bears took the first set 25-18
The second set opened with a challenge review play that gave the Roadrunners a quick point. The Bears however, did not seem affected as they went up 10-6.
After a long rally on the Bears’ 10th point, both teams began to exchange points. Staiger continued to lead the Bears in kills for the third straight game at eight going into the second half of the set.
The Bears went on a run, going up 17-9 toward the end of the second set leading to a Roadrunner timeout. While the Roadrunners stalled the Bears for a moment, the Bears went on an 8-2 run that helped them coast through the rest of the second set 25-14. Redshirt sophomore middle hitter Shelly Fanning, who had a critical kill toward the end of a late set rally, followed Staiger with the team’s second most kills at five.
The Roadrunners came out swinging in the third set attempting to extend the match. UTSA jumped out to an early 4-1 advantage, forcing a Baylor timeout.
Baylor head coach Ryan McGuyre said execution was the biggest issue for the team.
“Executing was definitely a part of the deal. We weren’t blocking still at a level that I feel we need to do,” McGuyre said. “We kept hitting at a high clip, but definitely didn’t slow them down as much down the stretch.”
After the Roadrunners continued to run away with the set, the Bears met them with opposition, going on a 4-1 run to get the score back to within striking distance at 9-7.
Plays from UTSA sophomore outside hitter Brianna Mcculloch, who led the Roadrunners with seven kills, helped to continue the Roadrunners’ edge going into the middle of set. UTSA kept the pressure on Baylor, taking a timeout while being up 23-18 in the set. With two kills from junior defensive specialist Shelby Williams, a dagger was put in the Bears attempt at a second tournament sweep. The Roadrunners won the set 25-18.
Both the Bears and Bobcats brought fight to the match’s fourth set. Each team went back and forth the first seven possessions of the set. The Roadrunners jumped back in front of the Bears early in the set 9-6, but the Bears remained in striking distance.
Pressley ended an extended rally with a kill to tie the set at 10-10. Once tied, the teams went back and forth well into the last portion of the set.
Tied at 19, the Roadrunners broke the tie with an extended rally that ended with an attack error from senior middle hitter Camryn Freiberg.
However, after winning a challenge review, the Bears grabbed a late surge of momentum jumping up 22-19 against the Roadrunners. After one more rally, Freiberg had the final kill to put the match away.
At the end of the tournament, Staiger won Most Valuable Player while Fanning won the Best Blocker award.
Staiger said she felt they did a good job getting the ball to different people, eliciting a dynamic offensive attack.
“I think we were doing a good job and spreading it out. People were able to put the ball away from wherever,” Staiger said. “To me that’s just awesome, where the other team doesn’t know where we are coming from.”
The Bears open conference play against Texas Tech at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Ferrell Center.