By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
Baylor volleyball is ranked No. 1 for the first time in program history. The Bears will get to wear that ranking in their home Big 12 opener this week against unranked opponents Oklahoma and Kansas State.
The Green and Gold will open their first full week of non-conference play tonight against the Sooners, and after starting 11-0, another win would set the record for the best start in program history. While the slate of games may look easier over the next two months as compared to Baylor’s preseason, but junior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley said that it’s not time to slow down.
“I think all of [our schedule] is hard. Every team is great. Every team is in the NCAA for a reason. Every team is D1 for a reason,” Pressley said.
Oklahoma won’t be an easy match for Baylor. The Sooners are 10-3, with two of those losses coming against ranked teams. The only other loss was over two weeks ago in a five-set thriller in College Station.
Oklahoma features a fairly balanced attack, with three players above 100 kills so far this season. They also return two All-Big 12 talents in sophomore middle blocker Paige Anderson and junior setter Kylee McLaughlin.
Kansas State is 6-7 and struggling in recent weeks. The Wildcats have yet to sweep an opponent this year as opposed to the Bears, who have swept an opponent on nine occasions this season. K-State has also dropped five of their last seven matches after starting the season 4-2.
Even with a couple of unranked squads on the slate this week, Baylor head coach Ryan McGuyre said that his team’s success comes from their focus on the task at hand.
“We are not taking seconds off. We really are competing very consistently in the gym. Our depth is phenomenal […] so to just have the buy-in from top to bottom with incredible senior leadership is a very special, special thing,” McGuyre said.
That focus has landed the Bears with the last undefeated record in the country, as well as a No.1 ranking in the AVCA poll. The coach was happy to get the ranking this week, but said that isn’t what matters moving forward.
“We’re still trying to get much, much better,” McGuyre said. “Everybody wants to win, but I always wanted our girls to win the right way, and for us, that just means to do it with great character and with great confidence. At this point being undefeated, we can dream about making it even extra special. But it’s still how we finish, and we want to make sure that we finish well.”
The Bears will first take on the Oklahoma Sooners at 7 p.m. Wednesday, followed by their matchup with the Kansas State Wildcats at 2 p.m. Saturday. Both games will be played at the Ferrell Center and streamed on ESPN+.