By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
The No. 17 Baylor volleyball team was announced as a fourth seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, marking the team’s seventh-consecutive appearance. The Bears (23-6, 12-4 Big 12) will host the first two rounds of the tournament, beginning with their matchup with Stephen F. Austin State University at 7 p.m. Thursday in the Ferrell Center.
“We’re back to 0-0, talking about a fresh start,” head coach Ryan McGuyre said. “You play your season to test yourself, you play your season to earn a seed and get ready for the tournament. I think home court advantage is an advantage.”
Baylor was able to protect home territory throughout the regular season, going 14-1 in the Ferrell Center, the lone loss to the No. 1 team in the country, the University of Texas. The Bears currently hold a 24-9 all-time record over SFA, coming away with a 3-1 victory in their last meeting in 2016. This marks the team’s seventh-consecutive appearance and 11th overall in the program’s history. All seven from their current streak come under McGuyre.
“We just have to keep playing really consistent,” freshman opposite side hitter Allie Sczech said. “I feel as a whole, towards the end of conference [play] we kind of found our rhythm. If we just continue to stay in that rhythm and just train hard in the gym, I think we can make it really far and win the national championship.”
The Bears’ standout freshman setter Averi Carlson was announced as the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, the third Baylor player to win this award. She finished with 1,140 assists on the season, averaging 10.75 per set.
“I feel like being out there is a blessing, honestly, every time you step out there and get the opportunity to play for Baylor,” Carlson said. “I just try to look at it from the standpoint of, I’m just grateful to be here and being here is so cool. So there’s nothing to stress about. Just be comfortable.”
Baylor will hope to be comfortable and ready for the Lumberjacks (26-4, 11-3 WAC) when Thursday’s 7 p.m. contest comes.