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The Baylor volleyball team (21-11, 9-7 Big 12) secured the program’s fifth-ever NCAA Tournament berth, paired in the Los Angeles regional for the first and second round, hosted by the No. 10 UCLA Bruins. From Baylor Bears dot com.
The Bears will face San Diego (24-5) on Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. CT/5:30 p.m. PT.
The Bruins (24-6) will follow with an 11 p.m. CT/9 p.m. PT matchup with Murray State (23-8), with TV designations still to be set.
Baylor finished one of the most successful seasons in program history, securing a fourth-place finish in Big 12 and the most overall wins since 2009.
"I’m really excited,” said second-year head coach Ryan McGuyre. “This team has been so special, so fun to be around. Some years, it’s just about wins and competition. This year, it’s about just extending the season because we’ve got a great group of girls. It’s just fun. We don’t want it to end."
Baylor has faced San Diego just once before, losing in four sets on Sep. 8, 1988 in San Diego. The Bears have faced the Bruins three times in previous years, with UCLA winning twice in Waco, but Baylor taking the most recent matchup, a Dec. 5, 2009 win to send the Bears to the program’s only Sweet 16 appearance in NCAA tournament play.
"[San Diego’s] a very good team,” said McGuyre. “They’ve had a great year. What makes competition and postseason fun is that everybody has been winning, so they know how to finish off sets. It kind of gives you that from the first serve all the way to the ball hitting the floor. Everything really counts, and that’s what we’ve had to do just to win some matches this year. Now, we’re playing teams with that similar type of charisma, so now it’s about executing and keep believing."
The first and second round play of the tournament bracket kicks off Thursday across the country, with teams fighting for a berth into the Regional rounds, hosted by the top seed in each region.
Baylor’s all-time NCAA record is 3-4, with the last tournament win for the Bears coming against UCLA in 2009.
The Bears have been paced this season by redshirt junior Katie Staiger, who set a new Baylor record for single-season kills, and posted the second-highest kill count in Big 12 history.
For Staiger and her teammates, the berth marks a first in their collegiate careers, continuing on a remarkable rebuilding process for the program.
“I’m so proud,” said Staiger. “I can’t even put it into words. No one has ever made any excuses. We’ve just shown up every day and worked hard. We’re starting to see it pay off. It’s so exciting.”
Despite losing two-time leading blocker, Tola Itiola, and 2015 All-Big 12 middle hitter, Shelly Fanning, before the season’s start, the Baylor squad managed to end the program’s postseason drought.
“Being here for four years, I haven’t had this feeling before,” said senior setter Morgan Reed. “I’m so thrilled. Being a senior is just bittersweet. This is the first time in four years that we’ve been called out. It’s just so exciting to have this opportunity to be in the tournament. All these girls mean so much to me. They’re family, and they mean the world to me.”
The last tournament berth for the Bears was in 2011, dropping in four to Michigan in the Stanford regional for the opening round.
"I’m very proud, I’m proud for the girls,” said McGuyre. “I really wanted it to be the greatest volleyball experience ever for these girls here. And for them to have the opportunity to do some things that are first, those will never be repeated. But also, just to know that the investment and the work that they put in is paying off, to get the reward of being able to travel and keep extending the season. I’m proud of them because they don’t quit. Win or lose, whatever’s going on, they’ve been very resilient this year. And looking forward to putting it all together for a great run"
Keep up with the team all season long by following Baylor Volleyball on the team's official Twitter (@BaylorVBall), Facebook (Baylor Volleyball) and Instagram (@BaylorVolleyball).
Lady Bears Basketball
The No. 5 Baylor Lady Bears are your 2016 Gulf Coast Showcase champions! With an 85-68 win over the No. 8 Ohio State Buckeyes, the Lady Bears boldly claimed the title on Sunday night (Nov. 27) after three games in three days at Germain Arena. SBNation’s Swish Appeal has the complete wrap-up.
“I’m excited; it's always good to win a championship,” senior guard Alexis Jones — who recorded 20 points, five rebounds, and seven assists — said. “We were very poised these three games, and it’s an exciting feeling to take back home that championship.”
Baylor sophomore forward Beatrice Mompremier connected on the Lady Bears’ first possession of the game, propelling a 6-0 run in the first minute. She set the tone for Baylor from the tip and ultimately owned the stat sheet with an impressive 13 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks. A quick minute later, the Buckeyes got their first points on the board with a three-pointer from sophomore guard Sierra Calhoun.
Baylor tipped the game off with hot shooting and finished the quarter 47 percent from the field including 1-1 from three-point land. However, Ohio State held the Lady Bears scoreless for the last four minutes of play, and was thus able to stay within striking distance. The Lady Bears took a 19-15 lead after the first 10 minutes of play; Mompremier led all scorers at the end of one with seven points and four rebounds.
“Our team defense was very good in this tournament,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “We’re [going to] always guard you, man, we’re gonna be aggressive.”
Baylor headed to the beach shortly after arriving in balmy Florida for a long holiday weekend, getting a little time to bask in sun and ride down waterslides. From Baylor Bears dot com.
The rest of the trip for the Lady Bears? All business.
Alexis Jones scored 20 points and No. 5 Baylor beat eighth-ranked Ohio State 85-68 on Sunday in the championship game of the Gulf Coast Showcase. Tournament MVP Kristy Wallace scored 15 points and Beatrice Mompremier added 13 for the Lady Bears (7-1), who never trailed.
''We definitely focused when it came to the games,'' Wallace said.
And it showed.
Kelsey Mitchell scored 17 points for Ohio State (5-2), and shot 5 for 20 before fouling out. The Buckeyes shot only 34 percent for the game, and were outrebounded 52-29.
''Kristy had a phenomenal tournament and very deserving of the award and all of that,'' Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. ''But we can't do it alone. Our team defense was very good in this tournament.''
Baylor trailed for only 6:16 in the three games in the tournament, winning by an average of 30.3 points. Ohio State was the third team ranked No. 9 or better Baylor has already played this season.
Baylor scored the game's first nine points and clamped down defensively against an Ohio State team that came into Sunday averaging 89 points per game. The Buckeyes shot just 28 percent in the first half, going into the break trailing 38-25.
Much of that stemmed from how difficult the Lady Bears made life for Mitchell.
Wallace drew the defensive assignment on the Ohio State star, and with some help she was able to keep her in check.
Mitchell's only points in the first 23 minutes came on a pair of layups. She missed nine consecutive shots over one 16-minute stretch, including back-to-back ones in the second quarter where she got a step on Wallace - but had her tries at the rim swatted emphatically away by the 6-foot-4 Mompremier, part of Baylor's huge corps of rim protectors.
''Hey, they've got a really good basketball team,'' Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. ''Credit to them. We didn't have our best day in large part due to them. I thought we played hard, but we just didn't execute well enough.''
Ohio State: Kiara Lewis and Sierra Calhoun each scored 12 for the Buckeyes. ... Shayla Cooper added 11 for Ohio State, which was outscored 48-26 in the paint. ... The Buckeyes missed their final nine shots going into intermission.
Baylor: It was a rare off-shooting night for Kalani Brown, who came in leading the nation this season at 79 percent. She shot 5 for 12 and scored 11 points. ... Nina Davis added 10 for the Bears.
The third quarter ended about as well as Baylor could have wanted.
Makayla Waterman's 3-point try was long with 5 seconds left, Baylor's Alexis Prince grabbed the rebound and got the ball upcourt to Khadijiah Cave - whose layup just beat the buzzer, gave the Lady Bears a 62-46 lead and had Mulkey firing a fist into the air to celebrate.
In earlier matchups Sunday:
- No. 18 DePaul made 19 3-pointers to roll past No. 11 Syracuse 108-84 in the third-place game.
- George Washington topped Western Kentucky 68-49 for fifth place.
- The seventh-place matchup went to Kent State, a 77-64 winner over Florida Gulf Coast.
Ohio State: Host No. 21 Miami on Thursday in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Baylor: Host Abilene Christian on Thursday, the first meeting between the programs.
Three-star cornerback recruit Noah Daniels announced Sunday he was decommitting from Baylor, leaving the Bears will just one commit in the class of 2017. From SI dot com.
Daniels announced his decision on Twitter, saying that while he thinks Baylor has a good academic and athletic reputation “I believe it’s best for me to further my career elsewhere.”