Doesn’t matter the sport — basketball, volleyball, wrestling. Anytime you venture into Iowa State’s Hilton Coliseum — home of “Hilton Magic,” as the locals say — and escape with a win, you kind of feel like you pulled off a magic trick yourself.
So Baylor’s volleyball team produced a bit of the “wow factor” with its 3-0 win over No. 20 Iowa State in Ames on Wednesday. It was the Bears’ ninth win in the past 10 outings, it gave the program its first road win over a ranked foe in five years, and it was Baylor’s second straight victory in Ames, which hadn’t been done since the 2004-05 seasons.
“I was deeply proud of the girls. They all approached the match with great maturity,” Baylor coach Ryan McGuyre said. “We’re trying to be an elite-level team, and I thought Iowa State is stinkin’ good. They’ve got so many good hitters, they’re very well-coached.
“To regularly — and that’s the goal, not just to be good once but over and over again — to regularly to be at the top of this conference you’ve got to be able to play well on the road as well as take care of business at home.”
Hannah Lockin won’t soon forget the sweep of the Cyclones. Baylor’s freshman setter grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, and was the Iowa Volleyball Coaches Association Class 5A Player of the Year as a senior.
So it almost felt like a home match for Lockin, and she was treated to more than 50 cheering friends and family in the stands.
“That was definitely the highlight of the season so far, getting to go play in that atmosphere that I’d grown up watching, and then to be on the Baylor side with my teammates that I love, on top of all that, having everybody near and dear to my heart there,” Lockin said. “My whole family, my friends, my old high school team were all there supporting. That was just super-fun, first of all to see them, but then to sweep Iowa State just made it that much better.”
One reason Baylor is clicking like tap shoes on a tile floor is that the Bears have been able to smoothly integrate freshmen like Lockin and outside hitter Yossiana Pressley into an already talented mix. McGuyre knew what he had with his returning players. On the outside, Katie Staiger stands as one of the top players in the country. Shelly Fanning is back and better than ever in the middle after a year off due to injury, and Camryn Freiberg has offered a reliable blocking presence in the middle as well. On the back row, Aniah Philo and Jana Brusek are delivering “elite-level passing,” the coach said.
But with Lockin showing astute judgment in her setting decisions and Pressley offering a high-flying hitting option on the right side, the Bears seemingly have everything working.
And they can still get better, McGuyre said.
“With Hannah and Yossi, we’ve got a long ways to go. I think we’ve barely hit the tip of the iceberg with them,” McGuyre said. “Yossi is still playing out of her true national (left-side) position, and so she’s kind of had to take one for the team. But for her to do that in a way that gets her excited about it, it just makes us that much better. Keeps us dynamic, and we can move things around. And Lockin, they’ll be two times better than they are now in November, which is how it should be.”
The Bears will try to keep things rolling against West Virginia (12-5, 1-3) at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Ferrell Center. Though the Mountaineers have dropped three of their four Big 12 matches, they pushed No. 6 Texas to five sets and also grabbed a set from No. 11 Kansas the last time out.
“They were up 9-4 in the fifth (against Texas),” McGuyre said. “They’re a very, very good team. They’ve beaten some other good teams, they’re physical, they’re athletic. I think they are very similar to us.”