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Baylor netters ready for challenge

Sept. 20, 1996

Jeff Andresen/The LariatThe Baylor volleyball team practices before leaving for the Penn State Classic Volleyball Invitational this weekend. The lady netters are taking in their record of 9-2 to meet such nationally ranked teams as Penn State, Alabama and William and Mary.

By Michelle Ward

Lariat Sports Staff

Baylor will travel to the Northeast this weekend to compete in the Penn State Classic.

The Bears' toughest competition will come in their first match against the home team.

'Our biggest obstacle will be Penn State,' said Kia Young, a Houston freshman. 'We must play as a team and limit our mistakes to win.'

The Bears' first game will be against the fourth-ranked squad in the nation.

Penn State boasts a perfect 8-0 record, with two of those wins coming off schools ranked among the top 10 in the nation.

Penn State beat both Notre Dame and Washington State the 8th- and 6th-ranked teams in the nation last weekend.

'I do not think we are as good as we are ranked,' Russ Rose, head coach of Penn State, said. 'I think the wins against Notre Dame and Washington State were good because they were over ranked teams.'

The second match in the round robin tournament for the Bears will be Alabama. Although the Crimson Tide have a record of 2-9, they were projected to be one of the top 25 teams of the year.

However, internal problems have caused the Crimson Tide to lose their best player, Nina Foster, who transferred to Florida.

With the loss of Foster, Alabama is probably going through a transitional period, Hosfeld said.

The Bears' final opponent in the Penn State Classic will be William and Mary University. This squad is just above the 500 mark with a record of 5-4. William and Mary is the lone university in this tournament not to face top 25 competition.

The Bears' first run in with top 25 competition didn't prove successful, as 23rd-ranked Oral Roberts swept the Bears in Baylor's first tournament of the season.

Baylor then went on to win back-to-back tournaments. The Bears' first tournament title of the season came at the Dr Pepper/American Airlines Invitational. They swept the five team invitational, not giving up a single game on their home court.

Their second tournament win came last weekend at the SMU Invitational.

Although the Bears were able to capture wins against SMU and Auburn, they fell to the Bobcats of Southwest Texas State. Even with the loss, the Bears were still able to win the tournament, improving their record to 9-2.

'With each match we play, we gain confidence,' said Crystal Schweihs, a Manachaca junior. 'We are learning with each match we play.'

In the week before the Penn State Classic, the team has continued to work on ball control, especially passing.

Ball control will be the defining factor in the match against Penn State. If the Bears are able to control the ball, they will have an opportunity to win the match, Hosfeld said.

The squad has also been scrimmaging the coaches to prepare for the big hitters and tougher competition the team will face.

'The all-around skill level at this tournament will be much higher,' said Sharon Pratt, a Richardson senior.

In order to win the tournament, the Bears must have their primary emphasis on their own game.

Although minor adjustments will take place throughout the tournament, the team will not focus all their energy into composing strategies, Hosfeld said.

'We are going to go out and compete hard,' Hosfeld said. 'If you get caught up in stopping them, you probably end up giving them points.'

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