May 5, 2010
- Without the service of its three seniors from the 2009 season, Baylor's volleyball team put together a successful spring season, ending with wins over Stephen F. Austin and Big 12 foe Texas Tech at the Ferrell Center.
The Bears were without the services of last season's kills leader Katie Sanders, assists leader Taylor Barnes, and blocks leader Anna Breyfogle, but with a new lineup head coach Jim Barnes noticed his team has developed a new identity.
"This spring was very productive, and we learned a lot about our team," Jim Barnes said. "This is definitely one of the most hard-working groups I have ever coached. That is going to be this team's identity heading into the fall. They are willing to work hard, improve every day, and play hard every set."
The Bears opened the spring schedule with back-to-back tournaments in Houston, including the Texas Tornados College Tournament on March 20, then to the Rice Spring Volleyball Tournament on March 27. On April 10, Baylor traveled to Texas State in San Marcos, Texas, then back home on April 24th to host SFA and Texas Tech.
During the spring, which Baylor played 34 sets, Barnes deployed 10 different lineups, finding the right pieces to replace the graduating seniors. Baylor compiled a 25-9 record in those sets.
"We have been playing a lot of different people at different positions, and they are willing to do that," Barnes said. "We may lack experience with losing our seniors from last season, but this group makes up for it just coming to the gym every day to compete."
With the return of setter Brittany Ridenour and the addition of transfer Kate Harris at the semester break, Barnes offense set up multiple looks during the spring.
"Both of our setters, Kate (Harris) and Brittney (Ridenour), have done a very good job with the different lineups that we have put on the court," Barnes said. "They played really well in a 6-2 in our tournament last weekend, and both come to the gym every day to compete."
With all of the new changes to the lineup, Baylor's hitter didn't skip a beat, especially in the confines of the Ferrell Center in the last two matches. Senior-to-be outside hitter Ashlie Christenson racked up a team-high 24 kills against SFA and Texas Tech, while Baylor's front line of Torri Campbell, Elizabeth Graham, Ashley Byrd, and Briana Tolbert each had double-digit kills and hit over .300 for the weekend.
"We could have potentially a powerful, physical lineup with our tall front line," Barnes said. "Liz (Graham) absolutely impressed everyone with her move from right side to the middle. Torri (Campbell) had a great spring, and her and Liz could be two of the best in the league. Ashlie (Christenson) really stepped up this spring and was a force offensively. She can give us more options with the ability to hit from back there."
Baylor's experience lies in its back-row defense with senior-to-be Caitlyn Trice and two-year starter at libero Allison King. With Baylor's different lineups each relished in their libero roll during the spring season.
"On defense, depending on what lineup we were in Allison (King) and Caitlyn (Trice) played great ball-control," Barnes said. "They bring back the most experience on this team and they certainly showed it with their consistency. "
Baylor will open the 2010 season at home with the annual Baylor Classic in the Ferrell Center on Aug. 27-28. The Bears will host Butler, SFA and SMU for the two-day tournament.