Junior middle blocker Sunny Nicholas and the Bears look to even their Big 12 record Saturday against Oklahoma.
Sept. 30, 2000
Baylor closes homestand against Oklahoma: The Bears will entertain the University of Oklahoma at 2 p.m. Saturday, finishing a brief, two-match homestand. Baylor enters the match with an 8-5 overall record and a 2-3 mark in Big 12 Conference play. The Sooners come to town at 6-6 and 1-3.
Oklahoma: The Sooners are one of three teams in the Big 12 under the direction of first-year head coaches. For Oklahoma, it's former Illinois State assistant coach Kalani Mahi. A 1987 graduate of Graceland College in Iowa, Mahi served as head coach at Bradley from 1995 to 1997 after a three-year stint as the Braves' assistant coach. Prior to that, he spent three seasons as an assistant at Mississippi. Mahi's wife, Christy, serves as an assistant for the Sooners. Joel and Andrea McCartney, also married, complete the OU coaching staff. The Sooners opened the season at 5-0 before dropping six straight decisions. Oklahoma lost each match during that stretch in three games, however, the Sooners got back on track Wednesday night with a five-game victory over Iowa State at home. The Sooners are paced by senior middle blocker Cathy Cook, who ranks third in the Big 12 with 4.76 kills per game and leads the OU squad with a .355 attacking percentage. Oklahoma is averaging three kills, three and a half digs and 0.44 blocks per game less than Baylor. The Sooners score a lot in the service game with 2.05 service aces per game, but they also with 152 service errors and 2.00 service aces allowed per game. Holly McMillan and Carolyn Kittell have 15 service aces each on the season.
The Series: This will be the 21st meeting between the two schools with Oklahoma holding a 15-5 advantage in the all-time series. The Sooners lead the series 5-3 since the beginning of Big 12 play in 1996. The teams first met in 1979, Baylor's second season of volleyball, in Tulsa, Okla., at the Oral Roberts Invitational. Oklahoma won that match 15-8, 13-15, 15-9 and went on to win the first eight matches in the series before a 1992 Baylor victory in Haltom City, Texas. The Sooners are 5-3 all-time in Waco, but have not won on the Brazos since 1997. Baylor swept the season series last year, winning in five games in Norman and in three games in Waco. The Bears also blanked the Sooners in their 1998 meeting at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor celebrates match No. 800: Saturday's match against Oklahoma will be the 800th contest in Baylor volleyball history. Going into the match, the Bears hold a 323-476 all-time record.
According to history ...: If history is any indication as to whether Saturday's match with Oklahoma will go five games, then the safe bet is that it will not. Baylor, now in its 23rd year of varsity intercollegiate volleyball, has never played four consecutive five-game matches.
Stevie gunning for another record: With 20 kills in Saturday's match against Oklahoma, freshman Stevie Nicholas can accomplish something not even Elisha Polk did. Nicholas has collected at least 20 kills in six consecutive matches, tying Polk's school mark set last season. A native of Fullerton, Calif., Nicholas has seven 20-kill matches to her credit through 13 matches this season.
Bears ranked 18th in attendance: Through their first three matches this season, the Bears were averaging 972 fans per match. That ranks 18th nationally heading into the week. Hawaii leads the nation with an average attendance of 7,015. Baylor ranks fifth among Big 12 schools, Nebraska is second nationally, Texas is 10th, Texas A&M is 14th and Kanas State is 17th.
Chuha leads nation in assists: Heading into the week, junior setter Dana Chuha led the nation in assists by more than 0.50 assists per game. The Bears as a team rank first nationally in assists and second in kills per game. Only Santa Clara is putting down kills at a higher rate than Baylor. Individually, freshman outside hitter Stevie Nicholas ranks seventh nationlly in kills per game.
Schwartz steps up in middle: Freshman middle blocker Tisha Schwartz gave Baylor its first 10-block performance of the season against Kansas. The Amarillo, Texas, native also had a career-high nine kills against the Jayhawks. Schwartz helped Baylor collect a season-high 18 total blocks. She became the first Bear to amass 10 blocks in a match since Tatiana Kenon against Colorado last season. Seven of Schwartz's blocks came in the last three games.
Young Nicholas sets two BU records: Freshman outside hitter Stevie Nicholas put down a career-high 34 kills at Missouri for her fifth straight match of at least 20 kills. She now has recorded at least 10 kills in each of her first 12 collegiate matches, breaking the school record to begin a career. No surprise, Elisha Polk is the player Nicholas matched. Polk totaled 160 kills during her span in 1996, an average of 4.32 kills per game. Thus far, Nicholas has 205 kills. The Fullerton, Calif., native leads the team with 5.83 kills per game, which is also tops in the Big 12 Conference. The next closest person is Colleen Smith of Texas Tech, averaging 5.05 kills per game. Nicholas' 34 kill-performance against Missouri is also a school record for kills in a match by a freshman and ranks third overall all-time at Baylor.
If it goes five, flip a coin: Baylor is 12-11 in five-game matches under fifth-year head coach Brian Hosfeld after topping Kansas 3-2. Prior to that, the Bears had dropped their last four five-gamers, dating back to last season. Two of those three contests saw Baylor build a 2-0 lead before dropping three straight games. Baylor was 4-4 in five-game matches during the 1999 season with wins over Texas, Texas A&M, Colorado and Oklahoma.
Two and out: Dropping a match after winning the first two games is nothing new for the Bears. Last season, both Texas A&M and Colorado reversed the tide against BU and overcame two-game deficits. There have been eight occasions in the history of Baylor volleyball in which the Bears jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but could not close out the match. Date Opponent Scores (Wins in Bold) Sept. 30, 1980 at Stephen F. Austin State 13, 11, 11, 9, 10 Sept. 4, 1984 at Hardin Simmons 11, 11, 5, 13, 10 Nov. 4, 1986 HOUSTON 14, 8, 8, 7, 9 Nov. 29, 1996 OKLAHOMA 9, 13, 7, 11, 11 Nov. 21, 1998 KANSAS STATE 10, 13, 13, 10, 13 Sept. 25, 1999 at Colorado 11, 6, 10, 12, 9 Nov. 10, 1999 at Texas A&M 13, 11, 14, 9, 9 Sept. 20, 2000 TEXAS 10, 8, 6, 12, 14
Berg stepping up on the outside: Junior middle blocker Kirsten Berg has looked more like an outside hitter as of late, seeing an increased number of swings from the left side. The result has been four straight matches with at least 10 kills, including a career-high 21 against Texas. During that four-match run, Berg is averaging 3.28 kills and 2.99 digs per game. She also matched her career high with 16 digs against UT.
Atkinson fourth, moving in on third: Senior outside hitter Dana Atkinson collected 10 digs against Kansas, the 71st time in her career that she has reached double-figures in digs. She now has 1,289 in her career, ranking fourth all-time at Baylor. Next on the school's career chart is Jenny DeLue, who amassed 1,344 from 1990 to 1993. Atkinson has tallied 10 or more digs in nine of 13 matches this season and is averaging 4.18 digs per game over the last five matches.
Stevie Nicholas named Athlete of the Week: For the first time in the history of Baylor's volleyball team, a freshman was honored with conference player of the week honors Monday when Stevie Nicholas was so honored by the Big 12. A native of Fullerton, Calif., Nicholas averaged 6.71 kills per game last week with 47 in two matches. She had a career-high 25 in the Bears' four-game win over Texas Tech last Wednesday and followed that with a 22-kill performance Saturday at Kansas State. Nicholas also collected a career-high 19 digs against the Red Raiders and hit .367 on the week.
Bears bounced from Top 25: Baylor's 3-0 loss at then-No. 22 Kansas State last Saturday spelled the end of a nine-week run in the USA Today/AVCA Coaches' Poll. The Bears, ranked 24th last week, dropped out of the poll for the first time since entering for the first time in school history Nov. 1, 1999, but not by much. Baylor received 103 points, just 16 less than No. 25 Ohio State, as the 26th team in the voting.
Stevie Nicholas gets more hardwood: Freshman outside hitter Stevie Nicholas averaged 5.89 kills, 3.33 digs and 1.00 blocks per game en route to earning all-tournament honors at the Starwoods Plaza Wildcat Classic. She tallied a career-high 20 kills twice on the weekend, first against Santa Clara and then against New Mexico State. Nicholas also earned all-tournament honors at the Rice Tournament during the first weekend of the season.
Baylor cruises past field at Rice: Baylor said good morning, good afternoon and good night to four consecutive opponents en route to its seventh regular-season tournament title during head coach Brian Hosfeld's tenure last weekend at the Rice University Tournament in Houston. The Bears defeated North Texas, Louisiana Tech, Texas-Pan American and host Rice, each by the score of 3-0. In the 18 years of Baylor volleyball prior to naming Hosfeld as head coach in 1996, the Bears captured just six regular season tournament titles and five of those came in the 1990s.
Nicholas dominates Rice Tournament: Freshman sensation Stevie Nicholas made her presence felt in her first weekend of collegiate action. The Fullerton, Calif., native tallied 69 kills and 12 blocks, averaged 5.75 kills per game and attacked at a .379 percentage at the Rice Tournament. That performance earned her tournament most valuable player honors, becoming the first-ever Baylor freshman to be named MVP of a tournament. Prior to this Elisha Polk had come the closest, garnering offensive MVP honors of the 1996 Dr Pepper/American Airlines Invitational hosted by Baylor.
Kenon sets record, named all-tournament: Junior rightside hitter Tatiana Kenon joined Stevie Nicholas on the all-tournament team last weekend. She averaged 3.55 kills and 0.73 blocks per game while hitting at a .365 clip. Her most impressive outing of the weekend came Saturday against Texas-Pan American. Kenon put down 17 kills in 22 attempts without committing an error. In doing so, the San Antonio, Texas, native broke the school record for kills in a game without an error. The mark was previously held by Cory Sivertson, who tallied 15 kills in 16 errorless attempts Oct. 7, 1992 against Rice. This was also the first time in Kenon's career to earn all-tournament honors. However, she has received hardwood before, last season Kenon was named player of the week by both the Big 12 Conference and the AVCA during the first week of November after posting a triple-double (19 kills, 10 digs, 10 blocks) against Colorado.
Atkinson aces five again: Senior outside hitter Dana Atkinson matched a personal career high with five service aces in one match Sept. 2 against Texas-Pan American. Atkinson recorded one in the first game, two in the second game and two more in game three. The Huntington Beach, Calif., native also had five service aces Sept. 21, 1999 against Iowa State. In that match, Atkinson closed out game two with five straight aces.
Head coach Brian Hosfeld: Baylor is in its fifth season under the direction of Brian Hosfeld. During his tenure, the Bears have compiled a 85-67 overall record and a 34-51 mark in the rugged Big 12 Conference. Last season, Hosfeld led the Bears to the greatest season in the program's 22-year history. Baylor posted a 26-9 record and finished fifth in the conference at 13-7. The 1999 Bears matched the school record for wins in a season and shattered the standard for conference wins. The season culminated with the Green and Gold making its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament. There, Baylor knocked off Temple in the first round before falling to eventual national champion Penn State. Hosfeld holds the highest winning percentage in school history. He stands third all-time at Baylor in total wins and has amassed the most conference wins of any coach in school history.
Gray, Lee complete coaching staff: Baylor will sport two new assistant coaches this season in Frank Gray and Jaimie Lee. Gray comes to Waco from Regis University in Colorado, where he worked with Division II coaching legend Frank Lavrisha. He is a 1994 graduate of the University of Colorado. Lee, who was a three-time Big East Conference Player of the Year honoree at Notre Dame, joins the staff after spending one year with the United States Professional Volleyball league touring team under the direction of world-renowned coach Arie Selinger. Lee is a 1998 Cum Laude graduate of Notre Dame.
Baylor on the web: Baylor volleyball information can be accessed 24 hours a day at the school's new athletic website http://www.GoBaylorBears.com. Fans and media alike can find the latest news and notes on the site along with match recaps, box scores, player features, player and coach bios and various other informational resources. Baylor volleyball matches will also be webcast live on the internet beginning in mid-September.