By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Baylor volleyball entered its matchup with No. 5 Texas on Wednesday night looking for its first win against the Longhorns at Gregory Gymnasium, but the Bears will have to wait and try again next season.
The Longhorns hit 26 percent for the match, including 37 percent in the third set behind 11 kills from Texas sophomore outside hitter Micaya White and freshman outside hitter Lexi Sun as Texas beat Baylor 25-19, 28-26, 25-17. The loss snapped the Bears’ seven match win streak and gave them their first conference loss.
It was Baylor’s 31st straight loss to Texas dating back to a five set win on Oct. 27, 2001 in Waco.
Head coach Ryan McGuyre said Texas’ experience in the big moments helped make the difference against a younger, inexperienced Baylor team.
“Texas is a really good team,” McGuyre said. “They’ve got a good coaching staff. They’ve got players that have played for national championships multiple times the last couple of years. Some of our young girls are still learning and you’re ultimately looking for ways to score points and not give away points. Offensively we weren’t that bad. We just did not slow them down enough going into that third set.”
In front of packed house of 4,000 people, Baylor got off to a good start grabbing a 5-2 lead following an attack error by the Longhorns.
After Baylor dumped a serve into the net, six-feet-one-inch White stepped to the service line and gave the Longhorns life. Her first serve led to a kill by senior middle blocker Chiaka Ogbogu. The next led to a Baylor error and two more kills by the Longhorns to put them in front 7-5.
Baylor worked its way back to tie the set at 14, but Texas continued to use its tall frontline to disrupt the Bears’ attack to build its lead to 23-19. Consecutive kills by senior outside hitter Ebony Nwanebu and White closed the 25-19 set win for the Longhorns.
In the second game, Texas continued its strong play, hitting 27 percent as a team in building a 19-15 lead.
Kills by freshman outside hitter Yossiana Pressley and senior middle hitter Camryn Freiberg gave Baylor a one point lead at 23-22. But Texas continued with its aggression, earning a set point at 25-24 until two Freiberg kills gave Baylor its first set point at 26-25.
Texas would stave off the set point and use a ball handling error, a block at the net on Staiger’s attack and a kill from White to close out the second set 28-26.
Pressley said the second set was about seizing an opportunity and the Bears let one slip away.
“In the second set, we got an opportunity and we took it,” Pressley said. “So we said, ‘Let’s get this opportunity. Let’s take off.’ We just didn’t finish it off.”
In the third set, Texas only got stronger, converting 14 kills in 29 swings while committing just three errors.
Following a kill from Pressley that put the Bears in front 3-2, Baylor would not really threaten the remainder of the set.
McGuyre said that despite some of the fundamentals breaking down in the third set, his team battled until the final point.
“We definitely had a bit of a lull in that set, which allowed Texas to play really free and we had to some things we don’t normally have to,” McGuyre said. “But I thought we fought hard down the finish.”
Texas pushed its lead to 20-11 after an ace from White and a Baylor error. The Longhorns earned their first match point at 24-15, but the Bears continued to fight getting kills from Staiger and Freiberg to make Texas work for its final point.
After a good pass by freshman setter Ashley Shook, White hammered the final kill right down the line to close the match 25-17.
Staiger led the way for the Bears with 12 kills, while redshirt sophomore middle hitter Shelly Fanning added 10. Pressley and Freiberg added nine and seven respectively.
Senior libero Jana Brusek led the defensive effort with 13 digs.
Despite the loss and the hiccups in the maturation process, Pressley said the Bears are still a very confident team.
“We just realized we need to trust each other more and we’ll work on that,” Pressley said. “We’re pretty confident. We were confident today, it just didn’t go as planned. I feel like we have a great chance to get a win.”
Baylor falls to 12-4, 2-1 in the Big 12. The Bears return home to take on Oklahoma University at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Ferrell Center.