By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
The No. 15 West Virginia Mountaineers came to Waco on Thursday, but their trip is already off to a rough start. Baylor beat West Virginia three sets to one after dropping the opening set. The first set ended 25-22 in favor of West Virginia, while the final three finished at 25-20, 25-12, and 25-16, all to the Bears.
Baylor has struggled on the opening night of several back-to-backs this season, and head coach Ryan McGuyre knows the team needs to be more consistent.
“Definitely discouraged with how we played the first two sets, really,” McGuyre said. “First one could’ve gone either way. Second one could’ve gone either way. We just need to be better. I think consistency is a theme for us as we’re trying to improve.”
One area where Baylor has been consistent this season is defense. The Bears have won the last three Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week awards and their performances tonight could lead to another.
Baylor had four players with five or more blocks, and two with seven. Sophomore middle blocker Kara McGhee continued her tear with seven blocks on the night, joined at that mark by junior opposite hitter Marieke van der Mark. Middle blocker Laché Harper and outside hitter Yossiana Pressley each had five blocks on the night.
“Kara is a stud,” Van der Mark said. “Last week she was defensive player of the week, brought it over to this game. We’re all working really hard on [blocking], with us working on it in practice . . . Every time we get a block we hype each other up.”
Another big moment for Baylor was the return of senior setter Hannah Sedwick. Sedwick had missed time due to injury, but was able to return to the court and have an immediate impact on the game.
“I was really impressed with Hannah this week,” McGuyre said. “It’s the first time she’s kind of had a green light to do stuff and it was good. She looked way more rusty in August than she did after not being able to do stuff since being hurt.”
The first set was hotly contested, but the Mountaineers were ultimately able to come away with a win. Baylor’s four errors certainly didn’t help matters, costing the Bears key points in the set. A late 3-0 run by West Virginia helped secure a 25-22 win.
The second set was also a close one, but Baylor was able to flip the script on errors. Baylor kept their errors down and forced West Virginia into 10 errors of their own, taking advantage of four consecutive Mountaineer errors to put away the set 25-20.
The third set saw the Bears pick up steam. A 10-1 run in the third gave Baylor a large lead. A big part of the Bears’ success in the third set came in the form of Baylor’s three service aces, one from junior libero Shanel Bramschreiber and a pair from freshman outside hitter/defensive specialist Campbell Bowden.
“I wanna give a lot of praise to Campbell Bowden,” McGuyre said. “We really got on her because she had a ‘weaksauce’ serve when she got to Baylor and she said ‘Alright, I got to work on it,’ and she’s our best server now.”
The final set was another efficient performance from the Bears, opening on a 7-0 scoring run. Baylor was buoyed by another two aces from Bramschreiber and another from junior setter Callie Williams. Add to that another three blocks by the defense and it became too much for West Virginia, ending in a 25-16 win.
Baylor will be back on the court Friday for a repeat match with the Mountaineers at 5 p.m. The match will be played in the Ferrell Center, but can be streamed on Big 12 Now and ESPN+.