By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
Fifth-year head coach Ryan McGuyre has set Baylor volleyball up for its best chance at success during his five years at the helm. The Bears have rattled off 13 wins in a row to start the 2019 season, the best in program history, and while much of that success can be attributed to the players, some goes to McGuyre.
“His attitude before the season was the same as any other season. We sit down, go over our goals and dreams. He goes over his goals and dreams and they are the exact same every single season: win the Big 12, win the national championship, and play for something bigger than ourselves,” fifth-year senior middle blocker Shelly Stafford said.
The Bears started the season with five matches on the road, including three against ranked opponents. Then they came home for a five-match stint featuring talented teams like No. 17 Missouri and No. 13 Hawaii. Both McGuyre and Stafford came to Baylor the same year, and she said he has done an exceptional job setting the team up for success this season.
“Him scheduling such a hard preseason shows his confidence in our team and our ability,” Stafford said. “I’m happy that he did because what better way to play a senior year than to have a preseason that’s going to test us, to ‘battle test’ us as he always says […] so when the battle and the postseason does come we’re ready for that. We’re ready for ranked teams. We’re ready for good competition. So I think it was nicely calculated on his part.”
Before coming to Baylor, McGuyre already had his mastermind reputation. He graduated from Biola University in 1998 and immediately began his coaching career there, posting a winning record in all three seasons.
McGuyre then moved on to California Baptist, where he started with two losing seasons, followed by eight postseason trips, including three national championships at the NAIA level.
Since coming to Baylor, he has yet to have a losing record and has reached the postseason the last three years. Even with that success, his attitude hasn’t changed, junior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley said.
“I feel like [his attitude] stays the same because we aren’t at our goal yet, so there’s no point in changing anything because we haven’t accomplished anything yet,” Pressley said.
Ever since McGuyre came to the Baylor, the culture he fostered has been the driving force of the team’s success. Junior setter Hannah Lockin said their coach has been a unifying force because of his faith.
“I think that his desire to serve the Lord is super evident, and it’s something in the role of the leader that he is to all of us that is just super inspiring. It unifies us. We choose whether we’re unified, but that has a huge influence on us, which is why we’re being so successful,” Lockin said. “We’re all really thankful for that.”
The Bears are now No. 1 in the nation, but the success hasn’t changed the team’s attitude, and Stafford said the team’s demeanor is all thanks to McGuyre’s poise.
“Since he got here he’s always said that God is our head coach, and he was just gifted this opportunity to share God’s love and knowledge through volleyball with us. I think he has truly built this program around that foundation, around that belief and principle,” Stafford said. “A lot of head coaches at universities I know won’t help set up nets or tape lines or even unload and load our bags onto the bus. When I think of a great leader I think of the greatest servant, and then [McGuyre] comes to mind.”
McGuyre’s faith has reached all of the players, even ones who are just starting with the program. Freshman middle blocker Kara McGhee said the team’s success hasn’t been a surprise to her, all because the coach has been preaching the reason all season.
“We do know that [our success] is just by God’s grace, and that we are just here to serve him, and it’s cool to see how our coach embodies that so well,” McGhee said. “He’s just like a disciple, and he disciples to us constantly and pours into us, which is just amazing […] Today at practice, he read Scripture before we started. He just continually reminds us of where we come from and what we’re doing and that it’s all to serve the Lord and to glorify him in all we do.”