By Ben Everett | Sports Editor
Baylor volleyball head coach Ryan McGuyre sat in the media room of the Ferrell Center to reflect on his career after the Bears’ 3-0 win over Texas State on Saturday morning. The win was McGuyre’s 400th, and the fourth-year Baylor head coach was quick to compliment the university he has helped put back in the volleyball spotlight.
“It’s just fun to be here at Baylor,” McGuyre said. “I feel so blessed to be at such a great university.”
McGuyre arrived in Waco in 2015, just a season after the Bears finished 14-17 and 4-12 in Big 12 Conference play. Since then, Baylor has compiled three straight winning seasons, including back-to-back postseason appearances in 2016 and 2017.
During the season-opening win over LSU on Friday night, a record 3,858 people filled the Ferrell Center stands to cheer on the Bears. McGuyre said the support of the girls is unparalleled and helps him achieve his goal of making it a great experience for the players.
“I mean there’s literally hundreds of people pouring into the volleyball program to make it a great experience,” McGuyre said. “My joy comes from making it a great experience for the girls. I want this to be the greatest volleyball experience ever for them.”
Despite the direct correlation between McGuyre being hired in 2015 and Baylor volleyball becoming a nationally-ranked team, McGuyre said it’s a team effort and he enjoys working with people he can call friends.
“It’s really a collaborative effort,” McGuyre said. “I think Derek Westbrook over at fan engagement and marketing and [assistant director of athletics communications] Cody Soto are friends. I get to work with friends. I think maybe when I first arrived it was a bit of a challenge. I think wherever you’re at, if you do things the right way, those things will come.”
McGuyre began his coaching career at a young age, coaching elementary volleyball in junior high, before advancing his career on a coaching staff at NC State in 1998. The La Habra, Calif., native took over as head coach of Biola University in 1999 and then California Baptist University in 2002, both faith-based institutions.
McGuyre said his faith connection with Baylor is something that makes him feel at home.
“I feel I’m in full alignment with the values and principles behind Baylor University,” McGuyre said. “I’m in love with the Lord and the vision that we have here as a sports program. I just feel extremely blessed.”
McGuyre served as an assistant coach at Maryland and Florida State from 2012 to 2014 before taking over for the Bears in 2015. McGuyre made an immediate impact in the win column, but the players have his full respect as well.
Redshirt junior middle blocker Shelly Fanning had nothing but good things to say about the coach that recruited her to Baylor.
“Coach [McGuyre] is such an awesome coach,” Fanning said. “He really has turned the program around and it’s been an honor to play for him. Four hundred’s not enough. We’ve got to keep going for him. I’m excited that we were part of something so great for him.”
All-American sophomore outside hitter Yossiana Pressley said the team was grateful to have helped McGuyre reach this milestone.
“We have that mark left there,” Pressley said. “2018 Baylor volleyball team got his 400th win. It’s just so awesome for us to get that for him because he’s worked so hard and put everything into us.”
The program has seen a winning record each year since McGuyre took over. As of Monday’s AVCA coaches poll, the Bears are the highest ranking they’ve ever been at No. 12.
Winning, however, is not McGuyre’s highest priority for the program, he said. Approval from Baylor President Linda Livingstone and athletic director Mack Rhoades drives McGuyre’s success.
“I just want Dr. Livingstone and Mack Rhoades to be proud of the program we put forth and shine bright,” McGuyre said. “That’s who we are at Baylor. It’s tied into our core principles and who we are as a volleyball team. To shine really means to shine God’s glory back to him. We’ve just been focusing on surrendering all of ourselves to all of God. I love that Baylor is a place where these student athletes can personalize their beliefs and really be prepared for life.”
The Bears look to remain undefeated on the season when they face North Texas at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Ferrell Center.