No. 15 VB excited for home opener, first of eight-game homestand

Freshman Averi Carlson setting up for another teammate during the first Baylor volleyball scrimmage of the year. Kenneth Prabhakar | Photographer

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

After kicking off the season with five straight matches on the road, No. 15 Baylor volleyball will have its home opener against Colorado State University at 6 p.m. on Thursday in the Ferrell Center. This will be the first of eight consecutive home matches for the Bears (3-2).

“It’s really nice to be in our place, be in our environment,” redshirt freshman outside hitter Riley Simpson said. “It’s going to be great, I’m excited.”

Head coach Ryan McGuyre said he is looking forward to the team’s first home match because the underclassman get to play their first regular season game in the Ferrell Center.

“It’s a fresh season and we have new faces in new places,” McGuyre said. “I’m just as curious to see how all of our freshmen play [in] their first home match … I’m excited to see that atmosphere.”

This is a young Baylor team, especially compared to last season’s team, and McGuyre said the team’s focus is to gain as much experience as possible day in and day out. He said it’s important for the team to be willingly put in uncomfortable situations and have to scrap their way out of it.

“It’s a learning process for sure, and we can’t play it safe because it slows down your rate of learning,” McGuyre said. “We believe speed of learning is a competitive advantage and we have a lot of intelligent women on this team. So, we have to stay committed to that even when things aren’t going well.”

After Thursday’s match with Colorado State, the Bears will face both Arizona State University and the University of Evansville on Saturday. McGuyre said he doesn’t prefer to play two matches in one day because he is concerned about fatigue. However, he said it’s good to get the non-conference matchups as quickly as possible so they can have more experience and be ready for conference play.

“The game is the best teacher, so to get [the team] out there to map situations is going to be beneficial for us,” McGuyre said. “It’s all about making good decisions. If you can make them when you’re tired, then you’re definitely going to make them when you’re fresh. Experience is what this team needs, so I’m just trying to throw as much experience at them as possible.”

Senior middle blocker Mallory Talbert doubled-down and also said the team’s biggest need is experience. Following two early matches against top-five ranked teams, the Bears were tested early and Talbert said she liked what she saw from the younger players.

“Something that I’ve been trying to focus on is that these girls don’t need a lot of technical help,” Talbert said. “They just need to work on their mental game and gaining experience. I told them beating Wisconsin doesn’t just happen, we had to make that happen. I was super impressed with the young players’ calmness throughout that and their ability to excel under pressure.”