Volleyball Preview: Bears at Kansas

Sept. 26, 2003

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Baylor (9-6, 2-1 Big 12) at
Kansas (9-4, 1-1)

When: Saturday, Sept. 27
Where: Horejsi Center; Lawrence, Kan.
Time: 7 p.m.

Baylor hits the road for a fourth-straight weekend as it faces Kansas in Big 12 Conference play on Saturday in Lawrence, Kan. The Bears have won their last three matches and six of their last eight, including Wednesday night's upset of No. 9 Kansas State.

Keep an eye on senior libero Stevie Nicholas tonight as she is only six digs away from 1,000. Nicholas would become only the fifth player in school history to record at least 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs for her career.

The Bears will be happy to return home next week as they host Oklahoma on Wednesday and Alcorn State on Sunday. Baylor does not have to travel again until Wednesday, Oct. 8 when they head to Austin to face Texas.

Wednesday night's victory over No. 9 Kansas State was the biggest upset in school history. The highest ranked team the Bears had ever beaten was No. 10 Texas A&M on Nov. 9, 1996. Baylor's last victory over a ranked opponent was on Oct. 25, 2000 against No. 23 Kansas State. Of the Bears' nine victories all-time against ranked teams, four have been against the Wildcats. Head coach Brian Hosfeld has raised the bar for success in his seven-plus seasons at the helm of the program. Hosfeld boasts eight of the Bears' nine victories over ranked opponents and the only two victories over top 10 opponents in school history.

Senior libero Stevie Nicholas needs only six more digs to reach 1,000. Nicholas would become only the fifth player in Baylor history to record 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs for her career, joining Elisha Polk, Heather Williams, Jenny DeLue and Cory Sivertson. Nicholas currently ranks fourth on the all-time kills list with 1,431 and has moved up to ninth with 994 digs.

Baylor has outdug its opponents 10 times this season and are 8-2 in those matches, including Wednesday night's victory over No. 9 Kansas State.The Bears had 82 digs compared to only 59 for the Wildcats, marking the largest dig differential of the season for the Bears...Senior libero/outside hitter Stevie Nicholas, who is tied for 10th in the Big 12 with 3.24 digs per game, has recorded double-digit digs in 10 of the 15 matches, including a season-high 22 against Kansas State on Wednesday. Senior outside Tisha Schwartz also added a career-high 21 digs to the effort.

Baylor claimed its second tournament title of the season by winning the Hampton Inn/JU Classic Sept. 12-13 in Jacksonville, Fla. The Bears also won the Baylor Classic Aug. 29-30 in Waco. Senior outside hitter Tisha Schwartz was tabbed the Most Valuable Player of both tournaments...Freshman outside hitter Andrea Vakulya was named to the all-tournment team at the Hampton Inn/JU Classic, while sophomore setter Emily Huston and freshman middle blocker Nicole LeBlanc made the all-tournament team at the Baylor Classic.

Freshman middle blocker Nicole LeBlanc recorded 12 total blocks (3 solo) in the Sept. 10 victory over Houston. It was the first double-digit block total by a Bear since Tisha Schwartz had 10 against Kansas on Sept. 27, 2000. It was also the first career double-double for LeBlanc, who added 10 kills. LeBlanc is second on the team with 1.02 blocks per game, trailing fellow freshman Desiree Guilliard-Young who is averaging 1.34. Both are among the top 10 in blocks in the Big 12...The Bears had a season-high 16 blocks as a team in the match against the Cougars and have at least 10 blocks in eight of their 15 matches.

Senior outside hitter Tisha Schwartz has recorded at least 20 kills in five matches this season, including a season high 26 against Ole Miss on Aug. 30 and 25 against Wyoming on Sept. 13 in Jacksonville. She has recorded double-digit kills in 14 of 15 matches. Sopohomore outside hitter Kelly Spriggs is the only other Bear to post 20 kills this season, slamming a career-high 20 against No. 9 Kansas State on Wednesday. Freshman outside hitter Andrea Vakulya came close with 19 against Wyoming.

Baylor hit a season high .451 in the victory over Jacksonville on Sept. 13, the third-highest attacking percentage in Baylor history. The match included a .714 performance from freshman middle blocker Desiree Guilliard-Young (11-1-14) and .667 from freshman middle blocker Nicole LeBlanc (12-0-18), who led the team for the first time this season with 12 kills. The Bears are 6-1 this season when hitting better than .250.

The Big 12 Conference volleyball coaches picked Baylor to finish eighth in the league's 2003 preseason poll. Defending Big 12 Champion Nebraska was picked to finish first, receiving six of the 11 first-place votes. Texas came in second, with Kansas State just one point back in third. Texas A&M and Missouri tied for fourth, followed by Kansas in sixth and Colorado in seventh place. Baylor slotted in the eighth spot, with Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Iowa State rounding out the 11-team field...Nebraska and Texas A&M also dominated the preseason all-conference squads, with each team receiving two places on the six-person team. Nebraska's Anna Schrad and Kansas State's Lauren Goehring were named co-preseason players of the year. Colorado's Ashley Nu'u was tabbed preseason freshman of the year, and Texas' Darium Acevedo, a sophomore transfer from Oregon, was named preseason newcomer of the year.

Sophomore outside hitter Kelly Spriggs earned her first start of the season Wednesday night against No. 9 Kansas State and did not disappoint, hammering a career-high 20 kills. Spriggs had been a sparkplug off the bench for the Bears in the three previous matches. In the last four matches, Spriggs hit .295 with 53 kills (3.53 k/g). She had double-digit kills in three of the four matches (9 in the other), her first three double-digit efforts of the season.

Baylor has a tough 2003 slate, facing three teams currently ranked in the top 10 and two others just outside the top 25...The Bears have lost to No. 2 Hawai'i and beaten No. 9 Kansas State, but still have two matches left with No. 7 Nebraska and No. 25 Texas A&M. Baylor also has one match left on the road against KSU and Missouri, which received the third-most votes by a team not in the top 25.

Baylor had a season-high 12 service aces in the Sept. 20 victory over Iowa State, all in the last three games. The only game the Bears lost in the match was the first, when they had no aces and six service errors...Sophomore outside hitter Stella Odion had a career-high five aces, including a pair for the final two points of game two. Sophomore setter Emily Huston punctuated the night with an ace on match point...Huston then had a career-high six aces, the most by a Bear this season, against Sam Houston State on Monday and the Bears had 11 as a team. Odion, who had three aces against the Bearkats, served 10-straight points for Baylor in game three...The Bears are 8-2 when recording more than five aces and 1-4 when posting five aces or fewer.

"Inside Baylor Sports", a half-hour look at the world of Baylor athletics, airs weekly throughout Central Texas and the region. The program, co-hosted by John Morris and Lori Scott-Fogleman, airs on KCEN-TV Channel 6, Fox Sports Net Southwest and the College Channel (Waco cable channel 18). KCEN carries the show at 10:30 p.m. Sundays, and it airs at 1 p.m. Wednesdays on FSN Southwest.



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