by DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD, reporter
Baylor's volleyball team, 2-7 in Big 12 play, has shown flashes this season of being able to compete with some of the best teams in the nation. This was never more evident than on Saturday when the Bears all but defeated the No. 23 Kansas State Wildcats.
The Wildcats were able to carry their momentum into the last two games and take the match 3-2 (30-23, 30-21, 27-30, 20-30, 11-15).
While this loss was a heartbreaker, and a match the team said they should have won, head Coach Jim Barnes said his team will learn from it and improve.
"I think we're going to learn quickly from (the match), and everyone's still healthy," Barnes said. "I think we can beat any team we play now."
In the match, Baylor got out to a quick start and took control of the momentum early, but they were unable to hold it long enough to seal the match.
Senior middle blocker Stella Odion attributed the momentum shift to the team's loss of focus.
"(In the first two and a half games), all aspects of volleyball were in synch," Odion said. "But then, we just lost focus. Our passing started getting off a little bit, and our hits weren't consistent."
This inconsistency appeared first when Baylor allowed Kansas State to finish the third game on a 10-1 run. It continued throughout the remainder of the match, as the Wildcats won games four and five comfortably.Several Baylor players finished the match with impressive stat lines.
Junior captain and starting outside hitter Nicole LeBlanc led the Bears offensively. LeBlanc finished the match with 19 kills and five blocks.
Defensively, sophomore libero Kristin Schramek had a match high 22 digs while sophomore defensive specialist Heather Marcus had 14 and LeBlanc finished with 12.
Senior setter Emily Huston finished the match with 53 assists, 13 digs and seven blocks.
Unfortunately for the Bears, this was not enough to pick up what would have been a big victory.
This match, and the way it was lost, was a hard one for senior Kelly Spriggs to handle, but she hasn't given up on the season.
"That's probably one of the hardest losses ever in my career to swallow," Spriggs said. "But all we can do now is stick together as a team, regroup and get ready for (Texas) A&M."