By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
No. 17 Baylor volleyball went the distance with the University of Oklahoma, ultimately winning in five sets on Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center. The Bears have now won 14-straight at home and 13 consecutive over the Sooners. Baylor went 22-25, 25-28, 25-23, 20-25, 15-10.
“We had hiccups,” head coach Ryan McGuyre said. “At times we slowed them down, but then we didn’t transition. At times we started toughing out aces and times were missing way, way too many serves. We made it hard on ourselves to win but I’m glad we could sustain it and still put ourselves in a position [to win].”
The Bears (13-3, 3-1 Big 12) had three players finish with double-digit kills. Senior outside hitter Lauren Harrison had a double-double with 15 kills and 10 digs. Freshman opposite side hitter Allie Sczech pitched in 13 kills and five blocks, while senior middle blocker Kara McGhee piled in 12 kills and six blocks. Freshman setter Averi Carlson finished with 49 assists, six digs and two aces.
The competition started off close, as Harrison traded blows with the Sooners (11-5, 1-3 Big 12), her multiple early kills helping tie the set at 6-6. As play continued, the teams consistently exchanged points and neither one could separate themselves. Halfway through the contest, the Bears found themselves ahead 15-14 before the media timeout. Coming out of the break, Oklahoma went on a 4-0 run, taking an 18-15 lead, forcing a Baylor timeout. The Sooners rode this wave of momentum to a 22-17 lead, but the Bears clawed out a 3-0 run to cut the lead 22-20. This swing wouldn’t be enough, and Oklahoma took the set 25-22.
The second set began in a similar fashion, starting as a back-and-forth between the two programs. The Bears took their first lead of the set with the help of a 4-0 run to jump ahead 9-6. Midway through the set, Baylor led 15-11 after a booming kill from Harrison. Carlson snuck in a kill of her own to push its lead 19-13. Never looking back, the Bears tied the match at 1-1 after taking the second set 25-18.
The Bears raced to a 3-0 lead to kick off the third set. The Sooners would bounce back to take their first lead of the set at 6-5. From here, the set became a tug-of-war with each team scraping for every point, the lead changing every other play. Midway through, OU was able to take a 15-14 lead. The rest of the set remained tight, as Baylor recaptured the lead 20-19. However, the Sooners took the lead back 23-22, forcing the Bears to call a timeout. Baylor came back roaring for a 3-0 run to take the third set 25-23.
Baylor struck first in the fourth set, going up 3-1 to begin action. As play continued, the Bears would call an early timeout as they lost their lead 9-7. They cut the lead to one, before the Sooners began to widen the gap, jumping ahead 14-9. Baylor would not go away quietly though, as before OU could run away with the set, the Bears battled back to cut the deficit to one, 18-17. The Sooners responded with a 5-1 run to once again open things up at 23-18. OU took the set 25-20.
Both teams came into the final set fired up, and this translated to their play as neither team let their foot off the gas. Back-to-back scores proved to be rare for both sides, both having to slug it out for every point. This stayed true until Carlson put her stamp on the game with consecutive assists, followed by an ace to put the Bears up 8-5. Baylor held a grip on the set, controlling momentum the majority of it. The Bears won the set 15-10 and the match 3-2.
Harrison spoke highly of Carlson for her performance, as she said the freshman plays with a lot of composure.
“[Carlson] is a very calm presence on the court,” Harrison said. “Even if she messes up or something goes wrong, you never see it in her face and that’s really good for the team. She has a winner’s mentality — she just wants to win.”
Up next, the Bears travel to Morgantown, W.Va. to face West Virginia at noon on Saturday at the WVU Coliseum. The contest will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+