Volleyball stepping back to step up

Fifth-year middle blocker Shelly Stafford leaps for a kill against Texas State on Sept. 24. The Bears swept the Bobcats 3-0 during the last match of the non-conference schedule. Kristen Dehaven | Multimedia Journalist

By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer

No. 1 Baylor volleyball will take their 14-0 record on the road again Saturday, this time facing the TCU Horned Frogs. The visit to Fort Worth will be their third conference road match-up after they swept Kansas and Iowa State the past two weeks.

With their win Wednesday night, the Bears have swept eight opponents in a row, featuring 25 straight set wins. Even with that success, head coach Ryan McGuyre said after the Iowa State win that the team has a lot to work on going forward.

“I thought we could have been better tonight. We’re trying to be more consistent in what we’re doing. I think we need to lose a set to wake us up and snap us out of it,” McGuyre said. “This team loves playing together. There’s great joy in what we’re doing, and it’s a challenge to balance that day in and day out. Hopefully for us it’s not about keeping this straight set alive, it’s about the points. I thought we gave away way too many points.”

Baylor has been outplayed in two straight matches, even as they’ve swept both the Wildcats and the Cyclones. The Bears have 41 errors across the last two games, matching the previous four matches combined. After two straight struggles, the fifth-year head coach said he is searching for help on the block.

“We really need to see our block return to better form, having a bigger impact on the match [than they have been]. TCU has a lot of great, great firepower, and if we don’t slow them down or stop them at the net, it’ll really really challenge our back-court defense,” McGuyre said. “Our back-court defense has still been doing some pretty good things lately, but we need our block.”

Along with too many errors, the Bears posted consecutive season lows in hitting percentage.

Redshirt sophomore Marieke van der Mark hit at least .400 in each match, but she said that Baylor needs to home in on their goals from the beginning of the season in order to improve going forward.

“We have to get back to the national champion mindset. We know those [matches] weren’t the Baylor way, and we want to get back to that,” Van der Mark said. “The practice was rough today and we got after it, and we’re going to get after it every day. Just wanting to bring the national championship to Baylor.”

Baylor will face TCU at 1 p.m. Saturday in Fort Worth. The match will be broadcast on FSSW+.