By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
No. 2 Baylor volleyball will enter conference play against 4-6 Kansas Saturday, looking to continue its undefeated run. The Bears enter Big 12 play without a loss for the first time since 2009.
Baylor has been running on tournament schedule for the first month of the season but as conference matches are more spread out, the schedule gives more time to prepare and look ahead.
Senior outside hitter Gia Milana said the team’s focus and methods wouldn’t be changing heading into the second half of the season.
“No matter what day it is […] we’re going to come in the gym having the same attitude,” Milana said. “We’re learning by the points we’re losing in games. So we’re taking those points and really harping on them in practice. We’re really going after our weaknesses and what we think teams are going to exploit [in the future].”
Thus far, there aren’t many weaknesses to complain of. The Bears and No. 21 California are the only two undefeated teams in the country. Baylor also hasn’t dropped a set in over two weeks either. Still, junior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley said that head coach Ryan McGuyre always has something for the team to improve upon.
“He would never be satisfied […] There’s always something we can improve upon, doesn’t matter if it’s a win, a loss,” Pressley said. “We take some matches as losses if we didn’t play to our best ability, or if there was a lack of focus or a lack of effort.We try to learn from each and every match, no matter the outcome.”
The Bears have made the postseason a major focus this year, from the training to the scheduling, but first they have to go through the Big 12. Pressley said Baylor’s focus is still on the second half before postseason rolls around.
“We definitely want to win this conference. We’re just making sure that we’re not saying ‘Oh, we only have to beat Texas,’ because that’s not what the mentality is at all,” Pressley said. “We have to beat every single opponent and face them like it’s the national championship. We take every team seriously. We watch film. They’re all great teams.”
Kansas was voted by Big 12 head coaches to finish No. 7 in the conference, but the Jayhawks’ results so far haven’t met preseason assessments. Kansas has only won 11 sets so far this year. They were swept by Arizona State, the University of Central Florida and Syracuse, the last of which the Bears swept earlier this season.
However, Baylor assistant coach Jason Williams said the Jayhawks still present a unique challenge for the Bears.
“Kansas has a lot of change in their lineups. They’re really working through new players, new positions. They beat Texas last year early in conference [play], so we’re taking them very serious and we expect a great match,” Williams said.
The Bears will take on the Jayhawks at 1 p.m. Saturday at Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena in Lawrence, Kan. The match will be streamed on ESPN+.