By Matthew Soderberg | Contributor
After sweeping both UCLA and Creighton last weekend in Lincoln, Baylor volleyball is in position for a strong season. The road only gets tougher from here though, as the Bears travel to Madison, Wis., on Thursday for matchups against Syracuse and No. 4 Wisconsin.
Baylor makes it out of August undefeated after dominant displays against UCLA and No. 20 Creighton. Both matches finished with 3-0 splits, and junior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley finished with 19 kills in each match, more than the top two Bruins combined and the top three Bluejays as well.
This past weekend provided good experience for new players like freshman Kara McGhee.
“It was a lot of fun,” McGhee said during media availability. “Getting used to college volleyball still, but it was good. The pace is faster which was fun.”
The Bears will keep moving forward to one of their toughest tests of the season this Friday against Wisconsin, but first, Baylor gets a fresh Orange squad. Syracuse finished their Saturday in a 4-1 scrimmage against Cornell, and they have yet to play a regular season opponent thus far.
Thursday afternoon, the Bears draw Syracuse in the HotelRED Invitational. The Orange represent an opponent on par with Baylor’s previous two matchups, so this shouldn’t be looked over in favor of preparation for the Badgers. If the team starts peeking ahead, they could lose focus against the overly prepared Orange and stumble before even reaching their more anticipated opponent.
Friday night’s showdown brings in an also undefeated Wisconsin on their home court. Last season, Wisconsin played their way into the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament, but they still fell to Baylor early in the season here in Waco.
That gives them all the more reason to come out looking for revenge, though. Junior and two-time first-team All-American Dana Rettke leads a loaded squad for the Badgers, returning all six of their starters, including three other players who received All-American honors last season. Wisconsin was 11-3 at home last season, with an average attendance of over 7,000 fans. Now compare that to Baylor’s maximum capacity of 6,000 fans.
Head coach Ryan McGuyre was quick to point out that this weekend would be a good challenge for his squad.
“Wisconsin and Marquette … they’re gonna want revenge. You’ve got three opponents that are strong, two opponents that are ranked ahead of us. I’m just excited with the opportunities there for us.”
The Bears take on No. 11 Marquette Sunday in Milwaukee, Wis. This is another rematch from last season, as the Bears defeated the Golden Eagles 3-1 at home last August.
McGhee and the Bears are excited to play hungry teams this week.
“We’re excited,” McGhee said. “We’re ready for the challenge. We’re going to succeed and glorify the Lord in everything that we do.”
Baylor takes on Syracuse to open the HotelRed Invitational at 4 p.m. on Thursday and then goes on to face No. 4 Wisconsin at 8 p.m. on Friday before heading down the road to finish off their trip against No. 11 Marquette at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon.