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Baylor Volleyball

No. 14 Baylor Volleyball Readys for Big 12 Opener vs TCU

September 21, 2022
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No. 14 Baylor Volleyball is set to open Big 12 conference play tonight at 7 PM in the Ferrell Center against the TCU Horned Frogs.

The Bears finished “preseason” play 10-2 with a very young roster and a statement win over the defending national champions Wisconsin (now ranked No. 6). The Bears dropped matches to now No. 8 Minnesota and current No. 17 Pepperdine.

There were plenty of tests, but after the Bears settled in at home after early road trips, they went on a tear. Ryan McGuyre’s squad has won nine in a row including eight sweeps in a row and a 25-set unbeaten run that they are currently on.

“I definitely feel like the non-conference matches really helped us recognize what we need to work on in practice,” said sophomore libero Lauren Briseño.

Coach McGuyre offered plenty of insight along these lines:

“[Setter] Averi [Carlson] has done a good job connecting with the middles. I think if our pins can keep steadily getting better from match to match we'll be really good.”

He had some very specific notes on the outside hitters later on, saying “We talk about the pin hitters being dynamic for us. They gotta be better and elevate, annihilate, locate and deviate. Mix it up. Tips, rolls... and humiliate is their other one... hitting off the edge of the block.”

“So there's kind of five things of being a dynamic hitter in our gym. I want all of them to be great at all five. I'd probably say all of them are good at two things now. And maybe it was just one at the beginning, and we're trying to get three, four, and five in place here.”

So progress has been made in that area over the first few weeks of the season.

Another area McGuyre emphasized was passing. While Briseño is passing at “an elite level”, he admits that the team is not quite where he wanted them to be at by this point.

“We're 58% perfect pass… that's something we've led the conference in probably as long as I've been here,” said McGuyre on Tuesday. “But we're like half a percent, 1% up. I'd like to create more separation in our serve, receive game.”

The goal he mentioned for the team at the start of conference play was 60%, so they are not far off.

Similarly, coach would like the team to improve its hitting and kill percentages.

“We wanna be high forties, you know, 50% is even massive. So if someone's getting 10 attempts, I want them to kill five out of those 10. If you look at our middles, they're doing that… Your error percentage should be really about 12%, 10%.”

So there are clearly defined goals for the squad when they look inward on their own performances and abilities.

“We have the mentality that we're gonna go out no matter who we're playing or where we're playing, we're gonna play our best,” said Elise McGhee, the younger half of the McGhee sisters that have been scoring a lot for the Bears so far this year. They know how they have to improve themselves and they know of the challenges they’ll have to face in the coming weeks.

Now looking out at the first conference foes that will come to town, the Bears see a familiar face or two.

Former Baylor associate head coach Jason Williams is now the head coach at TCU and has guided the Frogs to a 5-6 record so far this season.

The relationship is very strong between Williams and McGuyre, with McGuyre saying “I hope we beat Jason both times and he wins all the rest all year, but either way I am  rooting for his success.”

Now, the Bears do have the talent advantage and look to be the superior team so far this year, but there is much more to the contest for Wednesday night.

“I think he has the advantage,” McGuyre said of Williams, “because he's going to know our team much better than I know their team.”

So let’s take a quick look at some possible impact players for the Frogs.

Julia Adams (#12) and Audrey Nalls (#15) are outside hitters who lead the team in kills with 279 of the Frogs’ 546 kills so far this year. That is over half of the kills for the entire team this season. Both are seniors.

In the middle is Mykayla Myers (#3), another senior who is TCU’s most efficient attacker on a high volume this year (over 100 attacks is my arbitrary line). She is hitting just under .300 so far.

If Baylor is not ready, these seniors could rattle a young Baylor squad early and make the green and gold repeat a failure from last year: dropping the conference opener.

“We opened up with tech last year in a five-set loss and that was what cost us a big 12 championship,” remembered McGuyre.

The mentality of the Bears is very important in that regard given the near perfection needed to accomplish the goal of winning the Big 12. And the players spoke to the “one game at a time”-type mindset.

“I think we treat every game like it's the same,” said Elise McGhee, “but the Big 12 is definitely fun.”

And who wouldn’t have fun playing a game they love at a high level? They get to be out there and compete and show just how hard they’ve worked.

Of note: Lauren Harrison will not be available for the TCU game, though coach McGuyre was hoping to have her back on the court. He said that this “adds a little wrinkle” but the team has been rolling lately and he has great trust in the whole roster to play hard and play at the level necessary for success.

The match is scheduled to start at 7 PM CST and should be available on ESPN+ for any Baylor fans who cannot make it to this gold out game.

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No. 14 Baylor Volleyball Readys for Big 12 Opener vs TCU

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