Freshman volleyball player hopes to mimic winning standard at Baylor

Averi Carlson setting for a spike during the first woman's volleyball scrimmage of the year. Kenneth Prabhakar | Photographer

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

Bears fans, it’s time to get familiar with Baylor volleyball freshman setter Averi Carlson — a Dallas area native fresh off an unprecedented high school career at Lovejoy High School. During that time, she found a lot of success that she looks to carry over into the green and gold.

Carlson is not only the top-ranked setter in the class of 2022 but also the highest-ranked recruit in Baylor volleyball history — No. 4 in her class, according to During Carlson’s freshman year in 2018, her team was one win away from being state champions, and they came back with three straight state championships to cap off an incredible tenure.

In Carlson’s senior season, she accumulated nearly 1,000 assists on her way to a state championship MVP and was named the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year — a title that has been awarded since 1995. Its first winner was Kerri Walsh Jennings, a three-time beach volleyball Olympic gold medalist. The elite list Carlson joined also includes 2021 beach volleyball Olympic gold medalists April Ross and Alix Klineman.

In Carlson’s MVP state championship game, she recorded a triple-double with 10 kills, 16 assists and 10 digs. In her time at Lovejoy, the program won 90% of its matches (record of 161-18).

Carlson graduated high school early in December 2021, allowing her to enroll at Baylor the following spring. At the Gatorade National Volleyball Player of the Year event, Carlson said the honors she received along with her early enrollment at Baylor gave her confidence as she entered a new chapter of her life.

“It definitely helps a lot, just to be recognized as a great athlete,” Carlson said. “It’s just very special, and I’m very grateful. It was great that I came [to Baylor] early. Learning how to balance school and sports and getting to play in a few spring games was a lot of fun.”

Being so highly ranked, Carlson said she is aware of the added pressure to perform at a high level, although her teammates have been helping her work through it.

“There definitely is [added pressure],” Carlson said. “I have great teammates though that make it much easier. Coming in the spring, I was really nervous. Just getting to play with them and learn from them helped a bunch. They are great leaders and great friends.”

Head coach Ryan McGuyre had nothing but high praise for the four-time All-American while speaking on everything Carlson brings to the table, both on and off the court.

“She’s an incredible learner,” McGuyre said. “She’s open to change. She’s humble. Stress and pressure never get to her. And we’re going to have incredible consistency at setter. The girls love her so much. For us that are more reserved and steady, to show glimpses of her goofiness makes it more enticing to be around.”

Senior outside hitter Lauren Harrison said age is the biggest difference between this year’s team and last year’s, but this freshman group is looking strong so far. Before ever playing a true regular season game with her, Harrison gave Carlson her flowers.

“They’re all very talented to be so young,” Harrison said. “Averi is probably one of the best players I’ve played with, and she’s just a freshman.”

The team looks a lot different with eight freshmen and three seniors, compared to the 2021 group that featured 11 seniors. However, the future of Baylor volleyball is in good hands with this new talented group of freshmen led by Carlson. She is a proven winner who has already earned respect and faith from her coaches and teammates.

“Obviously, I want to win a national championship,” Carlson said. “But just making the team better is important to me.”

Baylor volleyball’s season begins at 4 p.m. on Aug. 26 at the Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth. As part of the Big 10/Big 12 Challenge, Baylor will be facing off against the University of Minnesota.