Volleyball set to host No. 2 Wisconsin

Junior middle blocker Shelly Fanning skies for the kill against North Texas on Aug. 28. The Bears started the season 4-0, but suffered back-to-back losses this weekend. They are set to face No. 2 Wisconsin at 6 p.m. Friday in the Ferrell Center. Photo credit: Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

Baylor volleyball will face No. 2 ranked Wisconsin at 6 p.m. Friday at the Ferrell Center for the start of the Baylor Classic.

After back-to-back losses over the weekend to UCLA and San Diego, the Bears are ready to bounce back this weekend. Junior outside hitter Gia Milana said the team just needs to trust each other on the court in order to break the losing streak.

“We are a great team. We love each other off the court and trust each other off the court and would do anything for each other,” Milana said. “I just think we have to carry that over onto the court where we do have a lot of new people and new chemistry, so we just have to build that flow and trust back in on the court. Once we trust each other, it’s going to be a lot easier and we’re going to play a lot better.”

The Bears are dealing with losing freshman middle blocker Sydney Sacra to a knee injury. Head coach Ryan McGuyre said their middle options are now limited.

“When one suffers, we all suffer,” McGuyre said. “Sydney was great because of her length, so she was doing a great job challenging [junior middle blocker Shelly Fanning], who has been playing great, but I think it has a lot to do with Sydney pushing her; it made her more dynamic. With her length and her range, we will definitely miss her [Sydney] until she gets back.”

Wisconsin jumped from No. 8 after beating then No. 2 Texas, 3-1, on Saturday. The Badgers have consistently been ranked among the top teams in the nation, sitting among the top 25 teams for 59 weeks straight. They also finished among the top-four teams in the Big Ten Conference in four of the past five seasons. They currently sit at 4-0 on the season.

The Badgers are led by sophomore setter Sydney Hilley who leads the team with 11.1 assists per match. Sophomore outside hitter Grace Loberg leads the team with 3.7 kills per set. Coach McGuyre said Wisconsin’s efficiency in their plays is where the team’s success lies.

“When your serve and pass game is strong, it makes everything else a lot easier,” McGuyre said. “I think their serve and receive is really solid and they’ve got some hitters that will hit the snot out of the ball. They are experienced too; they’ve seen big blocks in Texas already. They’re good in the parts of the game that really help you win easily.”

Fanning said high-quality competition like Wisconsin will help them down the road.

“It matures our team in different ways,” Fanning said. “We see tough serves and tough blocks, which is definitely going to help us down the run and into the NCAA tournament and just when we face other big teams in the tournament too. All that exposure is really good for us.”

During the Baylor Classic, the Bears will face UT-Rio Grande Valley at 11 a.m. and Rice at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Ferrell Center, following their Friday match against the Badgers.