By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
No. 5 Baylor volleyball hosts No. 17 Missouri and No. 13 Hawaii for the Baylor Classic this weekend. The Tigers and Rainbow Wahine present the Bears with their first top-25 matchups at home since the beginning of the season.
As both Missouri and Hawaii come to Waco without a loss, three of the nine remaining undefeated squads in the country will play against each other in the Ferrell Center this weekend. Head coach Ryan McGuyre said he is excited for the challenge ahead of his team.
“What a fun weekend. We just want to prepare for the tournament, we want to see the best version of ourselves, and so this is our fourth weekend in a row where it feels like tournament time,” McGuyre said.
The Bears have started the year 7-0, launching themselves to No. 5 in the country according to the most recent AVCA poll, their highest in program history.
“It really is a culmination of a lot of little things. All of our setters are looking really good; they’ve taken a big step. Hannah Lockin has done a phenomenal job, and now all of a sudden you’ve got hitters who have learned how to manage their swings. You know, we’ve been very low error in a lot of matches as well. You take the setters’ improvement with the hitters’ improvement and you put it together, now we get bigger improvement,” McGuyre said. “Lord willing, we’re going to continue to progress, and we’re hopefully going to host a couple rounds, maybe three or four rounds.”
Senior setter Braya Hunt said the Bears are looking to the push the limits of what they can continue to improve.
“We have gone through such a journey over the past couple of years, and it’s exciting to reap what we’ve been sowing,” Hunt said. “We’re excited to see what Baylor volleyball has in the future, but we’re excited to attack now. We think the ceiling is No. 1, honestly. Having a No. 5 ranking right now just makes us even more hungry to keep working in the gym.”
The Bears must hungry to keep winning. The Tigers and Fighting Wahine will be some of the toughest matchups the Bears have dealt with so far this season. McGuyre praised both squads ahead of the matches this weekend.
“Missouri, offensively, they’re just hitting at a high percentage, almost .400%. That’s pretty good. I expect that to be a match where both teams have to earn their points and the other teams aren’t going to give it away with too many errors,” McGuyre said. “Hawaii’s got a little bit of it-factor in their program right now too. I think they’ve got a good balance of young freshmen that don’t know any better, combined with some seniors that are also very hungry and trying to help their program grow to the next level.”
The Bears take on Missouri at 6 p.m. Friday at Ferrell Center followed by their matchup with Hawaii at 2 p.m. Sunday.