Volleyball triumphant in conference opener against Texas Tech

Baylor volleyball opened Big 12 Conference play with a four-set win over Texas Tech Wednesday at the Ferrell Center, 25-20, 23-25, 25-20, 25-16.

The Bears (11-3, 1-0) extended their win streak to six games and evened the all-time series with the Red Raiders (11-3, 0-1) in Waco at 17 games apiece.

Senior outside hitter Katie Staiger led the Bears with 20 kills while freshman outside hitter Yossiana Pressley followed behind with 15 kills. Freshman setter Hannah Lockin only had four kills, but did so on four attempts for a perfect attacking percentage.

Head coach Ryan McGuyre said the two freshmen continue to impress as the year progresses.

“Hannah Lockin, best match of the year for her,” McGuyre said. “She’s really matured and its great to see her be so good in the conference opener and [Yossiana] was right behind her. Two freshman that, when they’re on, we’re really really good.”

In the first set, the Bears found themselves down 7-6 early, but a 5-0 run put the Bears up 11-7 behind three kills from sophomore middle hitter Shelly Fanning.

Junior outside hitter Aniah Philo‘s second kill of the set made it a 20-14 Baylor lead, forcing Texas Tech to call a timeout.

The Red Raiders closed the gap slightly, coming within four points multiple times, but Staiger clinched the match for the Bears with her fourth kill of the game.

Pressley led the charge in the first set win for Baylor, recording six kills on 11 attempts while also posting a block.

Texas Tech jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the second set, but the Bears responded with a 3-0 run to cut into the deficit.

The Red Raiders continued to lead the way in the second set after junior setter Missy Owens blocked an attempt by Philo to make it a 10-7 Texas Tech lead.

Following a timeout, the Bears embarked on a 4-1 run to tie the set at 16 apiece in the second set with three of those points coming from blocks.

A kill by Staiger gave Baylor its first lead of the set 18-17 and Lockin forced a timeout call by blocking Texas Tech sophomore outside hitter Emily Hill and pushing the Bears’ lead to 21-19.

The Red Raiders fought back to tie the set at 23-23 before taking the lead and winning the set 25-23 following an ace from Owens and a kill from junior right side hitter Sarah Redding.

Back-and-forth action between Baylor and Texas Tech ensued in the third set but four kills from Staiger helped Baylor to a 15-14 lead in the middle of the set.

The Bears held on to a slim lead the rest of the way before pulling away for a 24-19 lead with clinching the set in their sights. The next play, sophomore setter Braya Hunt tripped while going for the ball and stayed on the ground, forcing the Bears to call a timeout.

Hunt stayed in the game and Baylor took a two set to one lead on Fanning’s ninth kill of the night as the Bears claimed the set 25-20.

Staiger’s 16th kill of the match gave Baylor a 10-6 advantage early in the fourth set as the Bears looked to close out the Red Raiders.

A combined block by Staiger and Fanning gave Baylor its largest lead of the match at seven as the Bears led 15-8 in the middle of the fourth set.

The Bears never looked back, winning the fourth set 25-16 on a kill from Fanning to clinch the win over the Red Raiders.

Lockin said the team got away from their game plan in the second set, but regrouped afterwards to come away with the win.

“We were like this isn’t our game of volleyball,” Lockin said. “We dropped to their level more [in the second set]. Which was the difference in the other three sets, we were playing at our level.”

Pressley said that she is confident that the Bears are good enough to win the Big 12 this year.

“No doubt,” Pressley said. “We just have to make sure we do the little things, play with some grit, and we’ll be a top-10 team.”

Baylor looks to keep the win streak alive as they face TCU at 2 p.m. Saturday in Fort Worth.