By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
No. 1 Baylor volleyball swept unranked TCU, adding to their list of victims over the last month. The Bears struggled in their final set, however, as Saturday saw the Horned Frogs take them to 34-32 to close out the match.
After close matches with Oklahoma, Kansas State and Iowa State, the trend continued with TCU. The first two sets went relatively quick for Baylor, but they fell behind early in the third and stayed down most of the set.
The stat of the night has to be the blocks. Baylor finished with 14 on the night, half a block shy of their season high. Freshman middle blocker Kara McGhee knocked back eight, and junior setter Hannah Lockin added seven for herself.
Several of those blocks held the Bears close, bringing them within one to 18-17 after trailing by five, but the Horned Frogs came back with two straight to force head volleyball coach Ryan McGuyre to take a timeout.
Baylor then forced a long set, eventually eating up five set points from TCU, finishing the match off with two blocks.
McGuyre had made blocking an emphasis for the team this week in practice after getting out-blocked in the last three matches. After the match, he said he was pleased with the front line’s performance.
“I feel like the extra points were good, and we were able to finish it off. We played fairly strong at the end. It’s on us sometimes when we’re going extra points, when we can finish it off a little bit sooner,” McGuyre said. “I loved that Marieke (van der Mark), who has not been jump-serving a lot, can go back there and get us a big ace. I thought that was huge in changing the momentum and getting us back tied.”
That huge momentum shift came after junior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley tied it up with a kill. Redshirt sophomore Marieke van der Mark came in to serve and got an ace, turning around the game and putting the pressure on the Horned Frogs.
The upperclassmen showed up today for the Bears, as fifth-year senior middle blocker Shelly Stafford and Pressley added 30 kills on a combined .469 clip. Senior outside hitter Gia Milana also had nine kills. McGuyre said it was their performance in a tough road environment that led them to hold onto the streak.
“Ultimately, I thought the upperclassmen and seniors were good,” McGuyre said. “Gia (Milana) was good for us early. Yossi (Pressley) was great for us down the stretch. Shelly (Stafford) was super strong throughout the match.”
The squad gets a small break this week as the next match doesn’t come until next Saturday against Texas Tech at 2 p.m. in the Ferrell Center. The game can also be streamed on ESPN+.