By Grace Smith | Reporter
With Sept. 25 being the latest start date the Bears have ever opened a season, the team is heading to Kansas to play in their opening matches this weekend. They are “excited” to experience “new faces in new places;” grateful to be given the opportunity to play this fall.
The Bears are facing unknown territory as they compete in the match with no fans, as only crowd noises will be played at the Horejsi Family Volleyball Arena. However, the team is not worried about how this will affect the outcome of the matches. While coach Ryan McGuyre said the crowd “multiplies joy,” he does not want the girls to play for the fans, big or small.
Redshirt junior opposite Marieke van der Mark said with no fans, she puts herself as the “energy marker” of the team. She tries to do the best she can every practice. Van der Mark said it is “imperative” to the game to celebrate everything that goes well.
“Having no fans at Kansas is going to be a different kind of environment,” Van der Mark said. “But we practice without fans, so having that and kind of having a preview of what that looks like is very good for us.”
Van der Mark said their goal is to take it one match and one practice at a time. One opportunity at a time.
“This might be our last game that we will play, today might be the last practice we will have, but we want to be able to say that the last match or the last practice we played was the best one that we did, so that is how we are going into this,” Van der Mark said.
McGuyre is excited for the girls to play in this season opener against Kansas. He is looking forward to seeing how all their training and preparation plays out on the court this weekend.
“My hope is that we have trained in a way where we’d make quick adjustments within a practice, so when we are trying to make these adjustments within matches our girls are good at doing that,” McGuyre said.
The Bears certainly have last year’s most successful season in program history in mind as they start the new season. The team went 29-2 last season, competing in the NCAA National Semifinals. They were ranked No. 1 in the nation for six weeks during the 2019 campaign. The team plans to keep this reputation alive for another season.
“I want to show everyone that it wasn’t a flook last year,” Van der Mark said. “We are here to stay, we are here for the top, and we are here with so many awesome new people and they can’t wait to show what they got for Baylor as well.”
Yossianna Pressley said they plan to “leave it all out on the table” this season. The team wants the standard of Baylor volleyball to be “strong,” making sure they all keep a “level head.” She said she is “happy to have teammates that lift her up.”
“Our identity this year is to play with joy, play for the Lord and just have fun because not everybody gets to play and this is definitely a blessing and we get to take full advantage of it,” Pressley said.
As the team prepares to leave for Kansas, back at home, Baylor announced a new attendance policy for volleyball matches at the Ferrell Center. Home games are now restricted to 25 % capacity, preparing the safest environment for all. This means just under 700 seats will be available.
Those who attend will be required to wear masks and social distance. All home matches will be televised and can be found on either ESPNU, Big 12 Now or on ESPN+.
Their home opener will be at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 2 against TCU. The Bears start the first of a two-match series against the Jayhawks tonight at 6:30 in Lawrence, Kan. Live stats will be available at baylorstats.com.