Sept. 27, 2013
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WACO, Texas - The Baylor volleyball team showed resolve after beginning the season at 2-6, winning six of the last eight matches to even its record at 8-8. However, the slate is wiped clean as the Bears begin Big 12 Conference play Saturday in Ames, Iowa at No. 25-ranked Iowa State at 4 p.m.
The Cyclones enter Big 12 play with a 6-4 record and are coming off a four-set win over in-state rival Iowa Saturday. ISU started strong with four-straight wins, but before the win over the Hawkeyes, ISU dropped four of five in the middle portion of its non-conference schedule.
Baylor and ISU are familiar foes on opening night. The Bears and Cyclones will square off for the seventh time Saturday to open conference play since the Big 12's inception in 1996. The teams have split the six meetings, but ISU has had the upper hand in matchups with Baylor recently.
The Bears haven't defeated Iowa State since Sept. 23, 2009, falling in the last seven matchups, and Baylor has not taken a road win over the Cyclones at Hilton Coliseum since Oct. 29, 2005.
The Cyclones have averaged 2,418 fans in two matches at home this season but lost both to ranked opponents, No. 14 San Diego (Sept. 6) and No. 18 Illinois (Sept. 8).
"It will be a terrific volleyball environment, and loud, but we will have to keep the momentum on our side by playing steady and aggressive," said Baylor head coach Jim Barnes.
Baylor will try to carry its recent momentum into Big 12 play, and part of the Bears' turnaround has been the improvement on the defensive side of the floor. Through the first six matches of the season, Baylor averaged just 11.31 digs per set and 1.92 blocks per set. However, over the last 10 matches where Baylor has won six, the Bears increased those numbers to 16.10 and 2.42 respectively. Overall, Baylor jumped to sixth in the Big 12 in digs per set at 14.45 and averages 2.25 blocks per set.
"Iowa State is a very good team that plays well at home. We look forward to the challenge of competing on the road in our first Big 12 match," Barnes said. "We have improved and we are playing with much more confidence."