Volleyball completes comeback for first round win over Hawai’i

Baylor volleyball players celebrate after defeating Hawai’i 3-2 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Eugene, Ore. The Bears came back from being down 2-0 to secure the win and advance to the second round. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Francesca Maietta | Reporter

Baylor volleyball took home its first-ever win against the University of Hawai’i 3-2 Thursday night in Eugene, Ore., in the first round of the NCAA tournament after overcoming an 0-2 deficit.

The Bears advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the third straight season and will face the winner of Oregon and New Mexico State.

Baylor took the lead in the first set, but it wasn’t long before the Rainbow Wahine caught up and took over, taking the set 25-23 to take a 1-0 lead in the match.

In the second set, the Bears fell behind with back-to-back attack errors that gave Hawai’i a four-point lead. Kills from senior outside hitter Aniah Philo and blocks by sophomore outside hitter Yossiana Pressley and junior middle blocker Jaelyn Jackson got the Bears on a 5-0 run, but they couldn’t shake Hawai’i’s previous lead. The Rainbow Wahine took the second set 25-23 to lead 2-0 in the match.

The Bears took the lead in the third set while Philo hit her eighth kill of the night, notching her 1,000th career kill. Double-digit kills from junior middle blocker Shelly Fanning helped Baylor push their lead. The Bears came back in full force as they took the third set 25-14 to cut the Hawai’i lead to 2-1.

Hawai’i went on a 6-1 scoring run in the fourth set that called for a Baylor timeout. Kills by Fanning and junior outside hitter Gia Milana brought the Bears back up. Pressley hit her 16th kill of the night and also hit the set point. Baylor took set four 25-24 to force a winner-take-all fifth set.

The Bears fell behind in the fifth set and were trailing by two at the changeover. Back-to-back blocks brought them to the lead. A block from Baylor coming out of a timeout got them the match point. Milana notched her 1,000th career kill when she hit match point. The Bears took the fifth set to win the match and advance to the second round.

Fanning led the way with 18 kills and 10 blocks while Pressley chipped in 17 kills, nine digs and six blocks. Philo notched a double-double with 14 kills and 21 digs.

This was the Bears first ever victory against the Rainbow Wahine and will now be continuing into the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Baylor will play either Oregon or New Mexico State at 9 p.m. tonight in Eugene.