By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
Baylor volleyball lost to Texas State 3-1 on Thursday, wrapping up the regular season with a 19-6 overall record and a 13-3 record in conference play.
Head coach Ryan McGuyre struggled to find positives in what quickly became an error-heavy contest.
“Good job by Texas State. They’ve been good all year, and this was a scary match for us to have on back to back nights,” McGuyre said. “Especially not playing well but getting the sweep against K-State. Probably wish we could’ve gotten in the gym and shored some things up there. I think we played like a sick and worn out team. [I’m] disappointed in our execution. We just did not play Baylor volleyball.”
The team has dealt with injuries all year, and tonight was no different. Starting opposite hitter Marieke van der Mark was unavailable, and setter Callie Williams made her return from an injury-based absence. Despite being a little banged up, key roles were able to be filled by players like freshman Cassie Davis, who had a career night.
“You hate to be missing starters,” McGuyre said. “Her block has been very reliable for us, her energy has been very reliable. Next man up has got to do it. I thought Cassie did a great job — five kills on six attempts, hit .800 for us.”
Davis’ five kills on the night was third on the team, and her hitting percentage put her in the No. 1 spot for the Bears. Leading the team in kills was senior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley with 19, followed by sophomore outside hitter Lauren Harrison with 13.
The Bears had a strong night on defense, with four players finishing with three or more blocks. Second year sophomore middle blocker Kara McGhee led the team with five, and senior grad transfer middle blocker Preslie Anderson was right behind her with four. Senior setter Hannah Sedwick split passing duties with Williams, as Sedwick posted 23 assists to Williams’ 16. The Bears produced three aces on the night, one coming from Harrison. While outside hitters aren’t traditionally go-to servers, Harrison’s ability is just another weapon for this Baylor team.
“We’ve been training Lauren on her jump serve all year,” McGuyre said. “At Rice, we were in a similar situation, so we’re really looking for her score, disrupt with her serve when she’s got that green light, that opportunity to do so.”
The first set was Baylor’s best and their lone win in the match. Down 18-11 at one point, it looked as though Baylor was already down and out in the opening frame. Not the case. From that point, the Bears rattled off a 4-0 run to cut the deficit in half. After another 5-2 scoring run later in the set, Baylor trailed by just a point at 22-21. Texas State dug in, not ready to give up the comeback win, but Baylor was determined to open the match strong. A pair of Bobcat errors would end the set with a 30-28 Baylor win.
In the second, Texas State jumped out to an early lead. First, it was 5-0. Then, 12-4. Then, 18-11, 22-12, 25-15. The Bobcats outclassed the Bears in the second, and it showed in the box score. Over the course of the set, Texas State hit .300, while Baylor hit just .061. The effort put in to drag themselves back in the first seemed to have drained Baylor, and the Bobcats took set two 25-15.
Baylor came back to life somewhat in the third set. Leading 9-6 early, Baylor looked to be in position to take control of the set and the match. Texas State wasn’t having it. From that point, the Bobcats rattled off a 6-1 streak, moving the score to 12-10 in their favor. The remainder of the set saw the teams trade points, both grappling for a safe lead. Neither would find it, as the set knotted at 23. A Texas State score put them within one point of the set win, but a wild save by Pressley to keep the rally alive gave Baylor hope.
“Yossi makes that play because every ball matters to her,” McGuyre said. “That was huge obviously at [24-23] … extended the match, just an effort play, and when we train well, we’re making those effort plays all the time.”
Ultimately, Pressley’s efforts wouldn’t be enough, as Texas State took the set 26-24.
Baylor started strong in the fourth, jumping out to a 3-0 lead early. A 6-0 tear from Texas State gave it the lead, and it wouldn’t look back for a long time. Baylor clawed their way back to the top late in the set at 22-21. That lead would be short-lived though, as the Cats would unload a 4-0 run to finish off the match.
The next thing on the docket for Baylor volleyball is the NCAA tournament. The seeds for the tournament will be announced on Sunday, and McGuyre feels the Bears have earned their spot.
“We’re excited, we feel like we did that job and earned it in the fall,” McGuyre said. “It’s hard because we didn’t really have much direction on what spring should look like other than [being] encouraged to schedule a lot of out-of-conference matches. I think we’ll find out Sunday where we’re placed and move on from there.”