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Volleyball team looksto cut into deficit

Nov. 3, 1999

By ROBBIE SINCLAIR

Reporter

The No. 23 Baylor volleyball team will look to cut its Big 12 deficit in half when the Bears square off against the conference-leading University of Texas Longhorns at 7 tonight at the Ferrell Special Events Center.

Baylor is ranked for the first time in the program's 22-year history. The Bears have a record of 20-5 overall and stand at 8-4 in the conference, good for fourth place. No. 12 Texas is 16-4 overall and stands all alone on top of the Big 12 with a 10-2 record.

'It's nice that people that know volleyball think we're worthy of being ranked,' senior outside hitter Kia Young said. 'But at the same time, we're taking it in stride. It's a great honor, but we're not going to focus our season on that.'

What Baylor does have to focus on is Texas, and specifically senior middle blocker Erin Aldrich. She ranks third in the conference with an average of 4.92 kills per game and also leads the conference with 1.82 blocks per game. Junior setter Jill Gremmel runs the Longhorn offense and tops the Big 12 with 14.16 assists per game. Outside hitter Kathy Tilson also holds her own on the Texas side of the net. The six-foot sophomore ranks second on the team with 289 kills and a 4.07 kill per game average.

'We just want to play well,' Young said. 'I like our chances.'

Baylor is riding high after last week's wins over the then--No. 20 University of Colorado and Iowa State University. Sophomore right-side hitter Tatiana Kenon was named both American Volleyball Coaches Association National Player of the Week and the Big 12 Player of the Week for her efforts.

Kenon exploded for a triple-double against Colorado and then returned with 14 kills and a .435 hitting percentage against the Cyclones.

'It feels great,' Kenon said. 'I'm completely shocked, and it's totally unexpected.'

Kenon added that she was very pleased with Baylor's new ranking.

'It's a great achievement,' she said. 'It seemed like for a long time no one wanted to respect us, but I think we'll get more respect now.'

Freshman setter Kristin Sheppard filled in for sophomore Dana Chuha once again against Iowa State and recorded 43 assists. Baylor head Coach Brian Hosfeld has made a regular practice of resting Chuha in practices and in some matches as the season wears on. Chuha had a stress fracture in her left fibula earlier this season and compensates to the point that both her shins are sore.

'It's incredibly valuable for 'Kik' [Sheppard] to get this game experience,' Hosfeld said.

The 'Beat Texas' tailgate party, sponsored by athletic marketing, will be held at 6 p.m. outside the Ferrell Center. The first 300 fans get free hotdogs and drinks.