LOCKIN AND LOADED
Freshman Setter Off to Fast Start for Bears
By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
When she first committed to Baylor volleyball more than two years ago, Hannah Lockin hadn’t planned on enrolling a semester early, “it wasn’t even really a thought in my mind.”
But now, “I’m beyond glad that I did,” she said.
“It really gave me a chance to not only get used to the volleyball part of it, but also doing volleyball while going to school,” said Lockin, the starting setter for a 6-3 Baylor team that hosts LSU (8-1) at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Ferrell Center. “It was awesome to start building relationships and get to know the coaching staff and how the program is before being under more stress and pressure during the season.”
“It was huge having her come in this spring,” coach Ryan McGuyre said. “Probably the significant factor in her success was really how good Braya and Hannah Fluegel were in the spring. They really outplayed her for most of the spring, not because of a work ethic thing from Lockin, but they knew what the grind looked like, they knew what the tempo looks like, what the expectations were like.
“I think Lockin was playing a little bit of catch-up, like, ‘Man, things are going fast, Coach is demanding, I’ve got hitters flying everywhere.’ She loves that challenge, it’s not incredibly foreign to her, but just the (day-to-day grind) can be overwhelming for all freshmen.”
And while she missed her final semester of high school, Lockin did get back to her home in Des Moines, Iowa, for prom and graduation. “I didn’t miss much else, and I was just ready to jump in here at Baylor.”
Not surprisingly, growing up in the school’s back yard, Lockin went to volleyball camps at Iowa State and had made up her mind to play there until the Cyclones got a commitment from a 2017 recruit “at my same position, same everything” when she was a freshman in high school.
“I grew up going to Iowa State volleyball games . . . it was kind of my dream to play on that court,” said Lockin, the Class 5A Player of the Year in Iowa last season and AVCA Under Armour second-team All-American. “But, that was kind of that fork in the road. I’ve got to do something else.”
On a spring break trip to Texas during her sophomore year, Lockin contacted the Baylor coaches and came to Waco on an unofficial visit.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted. I just remember driving on the Baylor campus and being like, ‘This is the place I want to be,’’’ she said. “It was totally a God thing. The cool thing is I always wanted to play at Iowa State, and now I get to play at Iowa State but for Baylor. I’m excited about that.”
McGuyre says he could have gone with any of the three setters, and “it’s still not a for-sure deal.” But, Lockin has taken the reins, ranking among conference leaders with 10.73 assists per set and nine service aces through the first nine matches.
“There’s no second-guessing Lockin’s athleticism,” McGuyre said. “She’s able to make some phenomenal sets on the high-type passes to save some things. She can be very offensive. So, she’s able, because of her athleticism, to bring some added things to the table with that.”
Last Saturday, wrapping up a 10-day, six-match road swing, Lockin recorded a double-double with 36 assists and 10 digs in the Bears’ 3-2 upset of 10th-ranked BYU, 21-25, 22-25, 25-18, 28-26, 15-10, on the final day of the Outrigger Resorts Volleyball Challenge in Honolulu.
“It was incredible, such a great opportunity,” she said. “It was just cool that we got to do that much traveling and do some of the fun Hawaii stuff. But, it was just cool to play in the Hawaii arena and play those great teams. Such a fun trip. Obviously, the BYU win helps, but the more we build our confidence the better we’ll be.”
McGuyre also found a combination that worked in the BYU match, using Hunt as a defensive specialist and back-row replacement for freshman outside hitter Yossiana Pressley. She had a career-high 29 assists to go with four kills, two digs and a block.
“I think it’s my favorite volleyball memory I’ve ever had, I can’t think of one to top that,” Hunt said. “(Playing) with 19 other girls that I know love me, and we’re in Hawaii, just doing super fun things. And then, beating a top-10 team to put the cherry on top, that was great.”
Through the spring and fall camp, Hunt was competing with Lockin and Fluegel for the starting setter position, but she’s also been double-training as a defensive specialist.
“It’s definitely a transition, but it’s been really fun,” she said. “I love defense, just keeping the ball off the court. That’s the fun part. The hard part is serve receive, but Coach Mac and my teammates have really been helping me with it.”
As competitive as they have been, Lockin, Hunt and Fluegel are best friends, on and off the court. Lockin remembers going to a Baylor camp after she committed and hearing a former player say, “Your teammates’ success is also your success.”
“That’s something that’s stuck with me,” she said. “Whether Braya is successful or (Fluegel) is successful or myself, that’s also my success.”
“Whoever’s out there has two, three four, however deep the bench is, cheering for them and telling them what’s open,” Hunt said. “If it’s me out there, I know Hannah Lockin and Hannah Fluegel have my back.”
Coming off a 4-2 road trip, the Bears face LSU on Wednesday and then Texas State, St. John’s and UTSA in this weekend’s Jason’s Deli Baylor Classic at the Ferrell Center.
“This is a much, much better LSU team,” McGuyre said, comparing it to an LSU team the Bears swept last year on the road. “They’re even more physical than they were last year. We played sharp at LSU last year, but they’ve got some more firepower and a little bit better ball control, and I think they’re going to make a big jump and a big move in the SEC this year.”
DID YOU KNOW?: Hunt is the daughter of former Baylor basketball player Melvin Hunt (1987-91), who is now an assistant coach with the Dallas Mavericks. “I hope to leave a legacy that is half as great as his,” Braya said.