Riding a four-match win streak, the No. 15-ranked West Virginia University volleyball team opens the second half of Big 12 Conference play in Waco, Texas, with a pair of matches at No. 2 Baylor on Oct. 29-30.
The Mountaineers (5-3) first match against the Lady Bears (9-1) will air on ESPNU at 7 p.m. ET. Friday’s match is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET and will be carried live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+, the conference’s digital platform. Both matches will take place inside the Ferrell Center.
Live stats and video links for both matches can be found on WVUsports.com.
“I think Texas and Baylor deserve to be the top two teams in the conference,” sixth-year coach Reed Sunahara said. “They have experience. Baylor went to the Final Four last year, so how could they not be one of the top teams? Not just in our conference, but in the nation. They are ranked No. 2 for a reason. They are behind Texas, but we still have to play them.
“I think our defense has to adjust to what their offense is doing. We also have to try and expose their weaknesses, the one’s that they have. The goal is to not give up easy points. We just have to work on being more efficient this week.”
WVU and BU first met in 1986, competing in a trio of neutral-site matchups before WVU joined the Big 12 in 2012. BU owns a 16-3 lead in the all-time series and is 7-2 in Waco. The two teams last met on Nov. 25, 2019, with Baylor claiming the 3-1 win in Morgantown. The Mountaineers are looking for their first season sweep over the Lady Bears since 2014, with their last win taking place on Nov. 22, 2014, at the WVU Coliseum.
For the first time in program history, West Virginia checks in at No. 15 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Rankings. Without full participation from the conferences, the AVCA is releasing only the top-15 teams each week instead of 25. WVU is one of four Big 12 teams ranked inside this week’s poll.
West Virginia is 5-3 on the year. The last time the Mountaineers won five or more conference matches was in 2017, when they won 21 matches and advanced to the semifinals of the National Invitational Volleyball Championship (NIVC).
West Virginia most recently captured a pair of wins over TCU on Oct. 15-16. The Mountaineers captured a five-set win on Oct. 15, followed by a four-set victory on Oct. 16. WVU finished the week hitting .160 with 103 kills and 26 total blocks, including a season-best 16 team blocks in game two. With the wins, WVU earned a season sweep over TCU for the first time in program history and improved to 6-4 over the Horned Frogs at home.
West Virginia is one of the top teams in the conference at the net, sitting second in blocks per set (2.33 b/s) and third in kills per set (12.81 k/s). WVU also is holding its opponent to a .229 hitting efficiency, ranking fourth in the league.
As a team, WVU is tied at No. 13 nationally in blocks (2.33 b/s) and sits 26th in kills (12.81 k/s), 30th in digs (14.47 d/s), 33rd in assists (11.42 a/s) and 37th in hitting percentage (.191).
Individually, a trio of Mountaineers sit in the top 30 of three national categories. Junior setter Lacey Zerwas comes in at No. 19 with 10.08 assists per set, and senior middle blocker Briana Lynch checks in at No. 28 with a .361 hitting efficiency. Redshirt senior middle blocker Audrey Adams also sits at No. 30 with 1.08 blocks per set.
Baylor, who is ranked No. 2 in the AVCA Top-15 Poll, scored a pair of sweeps at Iowa State in its last week of competition. BU sits in the top 15 of six statistical categories as a team: hitting percentage (.290, 6th), opponent’s hitting percentage (.149, 7th), kills per set (13.61, 12th), blocks per set (2.31, 15th) and service aces (42, 15th). Individually, senior Yossiana Pressley is eighth nationally with 174.0 total points and 158 total kills.