WACO, Texas - Baylor's volleyball team was predicted to finish sixth place in the nine-team league in the 2014 Big 12 Preseason poll, the league announced Friday. Since the Big 12 dropped to nine volleyball teams in 2011, Baylor has been picked sixth in three of the last four seasons.
The Bears finished 12-20 last year, with their first losing season since 2007, and Baylor finished in a tie for seventh place in the Big 12 standings with a 4-12 mark.
Baylor was plagued with injuries in 2013, losing highly-touted freshman outside hitter Katie Staiger to an ACL tear in the second match of the season. The Bears' best all-round player statistically, Thea Munch-Soegaard, missed the last 11 matches with a broken foot.
With those two players back healthy headed into 2014, Baylor also returns Laura Jones, who is the team's leader among returnees in kills after tallying 276 (2.46 p/s) last season. In addition, Andie Malloy, Baylor's preseason all-Big 12 selection, will join the team at outside hitter after earning All-Big 12 Freshman Team honors in 2012 at Iowa State.
Head coach Jim Barnes also added three freshmen and a transfer to mix with the eight returning lettermen. Liberos Jana Brusek (Chicago, Illinois / St. Ignatius Prep) and Ashley Myer (New Braunfels, Texas / New Braunfels H.S.) join the Bears as freshmen while middle hitter Neka Cuppetilli (New Braunfels, Texas / New Braunfels H.S.) joins veterans Sam Hill, Tola Itiola and Adrien Richburg in the middle.
Keili Harrison will have two years of college eligibility remaining at setter after transferring from San Jacinto College, adding depth to sophomore Morgan Reed and junior Amy Rosenbaum who each started at setter last season.
Baylor's season opens Aug. 29 at home against Abilene Christian at 7 p.m., and fans can get a preview of the season Aug. 26 with a Green / Gold Scrimmage at the Ferrell Center at 6 p.m.
2014 BIG 12 PRESEASON VOLLEYBALL POLL
Rank Team (First-place Votes) Points
1. Texas (8) 64 2. Kansas (1) 53 3. Iowa State 49 4. Oklahoma 45 5. Kansas State 35 6. Baylor 31 7. TCU 18 West Virginia 18 9. Texas Tech 11