By Savannah Cooper | Broadcast Reporter
No. 16-ranked Baylor volleyball defeated the LSU Tigers 3-1 Friday night at the Ferrell Center.
In front of a passionate crowd, Baylor hosted their first home game of the season as a part of the 2018 Hampton Inn & Suites Waco North Baylor Invitational. The team rallied behind redshirt junior middle blocker Shelly Fanning (15 kills and zero errors) and Maryland transfer junior outside hitter Gia Milana, as they led the Bears to their first home win.
The Bears kicked off the first set strong, both offensively and defensively, with 17 digs and 15 kills to win 25-19. Sophomore outside hitter Yossiana Pressley established control at the net with five kills.
LSU retaliated in the second set with a total of nine kills, six of which were held by senior middle blocker Olivia Beyer and senior outside hitter Toni Rodriguez. Their continuous strong play at the net slowed down Baylor’s previous momentum. After a timeout, the Bears started to come back from 14-4 to 20-9, but couldn’t fully defend the court and block open spaces which LSU was able to find. The Tigers came back to win 25-13 over the Bears.
Head coach Ryan McGuyre, now one win away from coaching 400 wins, saw that things fell apart during the second set, but knew his team was resilient enough to play to the end.
“The wheels almost fell off the wagon in that second set,” McGuyre said. “Our grid is strong; the girls’ character is great and strong. We know we have endurance. It’s just a matter of maintaining and being consistent and staying dialed in start to finish.”
In the third set, Baylor immediately corrected their mistakes from the second set, to have an elongated rally with 14 kills and 15 digs. They were able to defend the net against LSU for a 25-15 win.
The fourth set started with back-to-back touch calls by both sides before the Bears started to gain a lead with repetitive kills from Fanning. The Tigers continued to fight, closing the Bears lead to 23-20. After a Baylor timeout, the team’s energy surged after Pressley’s kill, which led them to a 25-21 victory.
Fanning said she doesn’t like relying on a crowd for support, but this night was an exception.
“I don’t wanna say it has an impact, because we play for one person — which is our creator — but I personally felt fired up because of their energy,” Fanning said. “I think it really does help that we have their energy in our gym. Having the student body behind our back is a really cool feeling.”
The Bears will take on Marquette at 7:00 p.m. tonight in the Ferrell Center.