Senior Elizabeth Graham
ORLANDO, Fla. - Baylor's volleyball team dispatched of Jacksonville in three sets, then came back from a set down to beat previously undefeated UCF in four sets in the Knights' home opener at the Courtyard by Marriott/UCF Classic on Friday.
"Our middles did a great job on offense today," head coach Jim Barnes said. "If you look at the numbers, both Elizabeth and Torri hit the ball extremely well, as did Byrd and Tolbert. Our setters were able to spread the ball around, and that's what we want our offense to be about."
Baylor started off the UCF Classic with a well-played match against Jacksonville University, hitting a season-high .440 on its way to a 3-0 (25-16,25-13, 25-16) sweep of the Dolphins.
The Bears racked up 48 kills, with just eight errors, in 91 total attempts to hit over .400 for the first time in just over a year. Sophomore Torri Campbell led the way with a match-best 15 kills. Senior Ashlie Christenson had nine kills, junior Allison King had eight and senior Ashley Byrd had seven. Sophomore Kate Harris paced the offense with 28 set assists.
The Baylor defense stifled JU's attack, holding the Dolphins to just a .084 hitting percentage (22-15-83) and not allowing any player to record more than five kills. Libero Caitlyn Trice continued her string of matches with double-digit digs, tying for the team-lead in the match with King's 11. The Bears totaled eight team blocks, getting one solo and three block assists from Campbell.
Down 5-4 in the first set, Baylor put on an 11-2 run to take control of the set. King recorded two service aces, while Campbell and Christenson each posted two kills during the stretch. Jacksonville put together a 6-2 run to get back to within 20-16, forcing a Baylor timeout. From there, the Bears came out with five consecutive points, starting with a block assist from Campbell and Briana Tolbert and ending with a Campbell spike, 25-16.
Baylor put a run on the Dolphins early in the second set, cruising out to a 4-1 lead with two kills by Campbell and one by King. The Bears pushed the lead to 13-3 with a 7-0 run that included perfect play from the attackers. In its first 10 swings, Baylor earned 10 kills, resulting in a 1.000 hitting percentage to start the set. Elizabeth Graham had three kills to pace Baylor during the run. JU recorded back-to-back blocks later in the set to close to within three at 16-13, but the Bears again squashed any Dolphin hope, scoring the next nine points in a row to close the set. Harris had back-to-back service aces, and Campbell had three kills.
In the third set, JU hung with the Bears, holding a lead as late as 8-7, but Baylor pulled off another run of 8-0 to seize control. During the span, Campbell took over the match adding five more kills and a block assist with Byrd. Down the stretch, Christenson had back-to-back kills to set up match point, and then Byrd finished it off with a kill at 25-16.
Baylor got double-figure kills from four players and hit .373 on their way to a 3-1 (22-25, 25-18, 25-16, 25-14) victory over the Knights.
"They came out tough, and really pumped up in their first home match of the season," Barnes said. "We did a good job of coming back and handling that. The third set was really important to get, and we played well and got the important points."
Christenson led the way with 14 kills, while Campbell added 13, Graham had 11 and King had 10. Graham's 11 kills came on just 16 attacks with zero errors to hit a spectacular .688 for the match. Harris had 28 assists, while Ridenour had 25.
On defense, Baylor held UCF to a .143 hitting percentage, recording a season-high 12.0 team blocks. Graham had eight block assists, while Byrd and Tolbert each had five. King recorded a double-double adding 19 digs, tying for the team-high with Trice's 19.
UCF came flying out of the gates in their home opener, scoring nine of the first 13 points, ending with back-to-back service aces from Kristen Fisher. Baylor closed to within 10-7 on kills from King and Christenson, but UCF held the Bears off, holding a four-point lead late. Down 22-18, Baylor got a block and a Campbell kill to close within two, but UCF finished off the set with a Tory McCutcheon kill.
In the second a set, the Bears used their size advantage to build a substantial lead. Graham made it 8-2 with a kill, then assisted Tolbert on a block to push the lead to 13-4. After UCF cut it to four, Baylor scored three in a row on the strength of a service ace by King, between kills from Campbell and Christenson that made the score 19-12. Christenson and Tolbert then had back-to-back kills to give BU a 25-18 set win.
The third set was all UCF early, as the Knights built a 12-8 lead. The Bears then ripped off five points in a row, topped off by a kill by Campbell. The run followed a stretch where Fisher had five kills for UCF, but preceded stretch where BU blocked Fisher three times in a row to build a 17-13 lead. Graham had two kills in a row to make it 20-15, then King finished off the set with two of her own.
In the fourth, Baylor jumped into the lead with a 9-4 run to open. Campbell highlighted the run with two kills. Another block of Fisher by Tolbert and Graham gave Baylor a commanding 20-12 lead. Campbell then ended it with a solo block and a kill for the last two BU points and a 25-14 win.
Baylor will conclude the UCF Classic against Florida Atlantic at 10 a.m. CT/11 a.m. ET on Saturday morning. FAU has dropped each of its matches of the tournament, and Baylor will have a chance to take the title with a win.