Veteran Baylor volleyball team enters 2019 ranked 20th nationally
Heading into Ryan McGuyre’s fifth season at the helm of the Baylor volleyball team, milestones that were once viewed as aspirational — NCAA tournament appearances, 20+ wins a year, top-25 preseason rankings, etc. — are becoming expected standards for players and coaches alike, as the Bears set their sights even higher.
For instance… Prior to 2017, the Bears had never been picked to finish higher than fifth in the Big 12. Now, league coaches have picked Baylor to finish among the league’s top three teams three straight years; this year, they’re predicted to finish second — the same place they’ve claimed at year’s end each of the last two seasons.
Ranked No. 20 in the nation to start 2019, the Bears have lofty expectations. The veteran team is led by a pair of preseason All-Big 12 selections in senior Shelly (Fanning) Stafford and junior Yossiana Pressley, both preseason All-Big 12 selections. Four starters return from last year’s squad, and Stafford is one of six seniors on the roster. Those seniors are the first in Baylor history to reach the NCAA tournament in three straight seasons; this fall, they’ll aim to make that four.
A difficult schedule awaits the Bears, designed to prepare them for the rigors of postseason play. Four of their first seven opponents are also ranked in the top 25 to start 2019, and eight of Baylor’s first 10 matches are against teams that made the NCAA tournament last season.
The new season begins officially Friday afternoon at 4:30, when the Bears take on UCLA at the Husker Invitational in Lincoln, Neb. They’ll be on the road for the first two weekends before opening up the home portion of the schedule Sept. 12 against Houston in the Hampton Inn & Suites North Baylor Invitational.
Sic ’em, Bears!