By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
Coming off of their back-to-back wins against No. 14 Florida (4-3), where the Bears only gave up a single set, Baylor volleyball (3-3) has found some momentum heading into their home opener against Rice University (4-3). The Bears are excited to finally play in the Ferrell Center for the first time this season, as they’ve had a tough schedule so far being constantly on the road and playing multiple top-10 teams.
“I would say it’s just good to be battle tested,” senior opposite hitter Marieke van der Mark said. “We have some really tough opponents, we had some new people out there, and it’s just awesome to see us work together and just coming back with two wins against Florida is just what we wanted. We are all just working together and just coming together as a team, which is awesome.”
After starting off rough at 1-3, the Bears were able to regain some strength in the last two matches and have fought their way back to a .500 record at 3-3. The Bears have talent and van der Mark said it was only a matter of time before they got comfortable and hit their stride.
“We all just had to settle into our positions and settle into the thought of playing all together,” van der Mark said. “I don’t think something necessarily clicked, I think we’ve always continuously grown a little bit more every match.”
With two home games coming up after being away for the first six, the Bears are happy to finally be playing back at the Ferrell Center. Head coach Ryan McGuyre said it is exciting to be back at home as the team loves both the fans and the community. He believes the atmosphere has made the Ferrell Center an intimidating place to play for opponents. Senior middle back Preslie Anderson agreed, saying she can’t wait to feel the excitement from the home crowd.
“Anytime we get a chance to play at home in front of the Ferrell fans, it’s a great day to be a Bear,” Anderson said. “I’m excited to see how much support we’ve gotten. I know there’s been like a lot of hype around our [home] season opener. To finally feel the excitement, the environment, all the fans, to see other fellow student athletes supporting us when it all comes together like that, the best day is our home game days for sure.”
The team is starting to mesh well and come into their own early into the season. As the year continues, they are determined to keep getting better and find their groove. Many players are playing new or different positions and remain patient in the process as they trust their coach and do whatever the team needs to win.
“That’s what I do,” van der Mark said. “If I don’t come out with joy and the enthusiasm that I have, then that’s not Marieke, so that’s what I will keep doing. If I’m on the middle or the right side, maybe they put me a little bit in a libero jersey, who knows. I will do whatever I need to do for this team. It’s just such a friendship, such a sisterhood, and I trust coach Mac and wherever he puts us.”