By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
It’s not often that winter break applies to student athletes, but that’s exactly what’s happened with Baylor volleyball this season.
The team played its last game on Nov. 21, a home showdown with Kansas State. By the time they play their next game it will have been three months since Baylor’s last contest. After that much time off, head coach Ryan McGuyre is ready to get back in action.
“[We are] so excited to get after it,” McGuyre said. “The girls do look good in what we’ve seen. It’s exciting. I coached men for about a decade, and it’s the same timeframe — championship was always at the end of April — so it feels kind of like that. I felt very rusty in the fall, and I feel kind of rejuvenated for this spring.”
Baylor’s spring season will be something of a Texas tour, as the Bears will see North Texas, Texas, Houston, Rice and Texas State at least once each as they prepare for the NCAA tournament. The only out-of-state competition will come in the form of a back-to-back with Oklahoma in the Ferrell Center. While the creation of a spring schedule was certainly something new, Baylor will still have the chance for some top shelf competition.
“We’re fortunate we’re in an area where we’re surrounded by good teams,” McGuyre said. “We always want to challenge ourselves. Last year, 2019, we’re on the road at Nebraska, we played UCLA, Creighton, Wisconsin and Marquette, brought Hawai’i here. It was just different. Unfortunately, we did not win the AQ (automatic qualifier), fell short losing to Texas in five. There’s no reward without the risk… We’re still playing some high level teams.”
In addition to the new schedule, Baylor also has some new faces in the gym for the spring season. Multiple freshmen have joined the Bears to train, but will be unable to compete in games this semester. Transfer middle blocker Preslie Anderson, however, will be eligible to play immediately.
Anderson, who last played for Cal Berkeley, was named to the All-Pac 12 team in 2019 while also leading the conference in hitting percentage. Even on a Baylor team with a strong middle presence, Anderson’s impact will be felt right away.
“I do think Preslie Anderson will have an impact for us one way or another,” McGuyre said. “Trying to get Preslie and the new ones adapted so they’re helping and enhancing the practices has been a welcome challenge.”
While acclimating the newcomers has certainly been a priority, some returning players have stood out since being back in the gym.
“I’ve been really pleased, actually, with Emily Van Slate,” McGuyre said. “She’s an upperclassman and … looks prepared and ready. All primary passers have to be prepared and ready once we start playing, so I’m really, really pleased with that.”
The rest of the Bears still have some time to make sure they, too, are prepared and ready for their first contest of the new season. They’ll be back on the floor at 6 p.m. Feb. 25 as North Texas comes to Waco for the first of two matches between Baylor and UNT this season. The game will be broadcast via Big 12 Now on ESPN+.