Against the great teams, you can’t afford to give away points. Those squads are gifted enough to tally plenty of points on their own.
Unfortunately for Baylor, it was in a giving mood.
No. 15 Florida State made plenty of noise with its powerful, efficient attack to silence upset-minded Baylor, 25-20, 12-25, 25-21, 25-22, before a school-record crowd of 3,617 at the Ferrell Center on Friday night. But Baylor also hurt itself with plenty of self-inflicted wounds from the service line, committing 16 errors.
The Bears (0-1) gave those hyped-up, eager fans plenty to cheer about in the season opener, stringing together several stretches of lustrous play. But those spurts sometimes vanished as quickly as they appeared, often because of unforced mistakes – with momentum-killing serves sailing into the net or beyond the back line.
“Extremely disappointing. We addressed it a little bit,” McGuyre said. “That’s the one thing that would give them a chance is if we’re giving away free points. And even in that first set, too many free points offensively on the service errors. You can’t do that and win tight matches against good teams. Because you’re fighting back and forth every single point, and to give that many away is not typical of what we want to be. It’s something we’ve got to correct.”
Florida State (1-0) was no stranger to McGuyre, given that he spent two seasons as associate head coach of the Seminoles prior to joining Baylor in 2015. The Seminoles have qualified for seven straight NCAA tournaments, making the Sweet 16 in three of the past four seasons.
So Baylor knew the chore in front of it, but the Bears just wished they could have risen up to that challenge. McGuyre felt his team never really settled into a rhythm, “except for maybe at the very end.”
All-American Katie Staiger kicked off her senior year in style, blasting a match-high 19 kills and adding 11 digs. But she also gave away three points from the service line with errors, and was one of seven BU players to commit at least one error from the line.
In contrast, the Seminoles had just four total service errors.
“That’s definitely too many (errors),” Staiger said when asked about the team’s spotty service. “We talk about how serving is the one thing you can control, no one is affecting you back there, so it’s definitely a mindset thing and something we need to do better.”
The teams traded the lead back and forth in the opening set, but Florida State’s potent outside hitter Milica Kubura (13 kills) of Serbia sparked a late surge. Kubura gave FSU the lead for good in the set when she broke an 18-18 tie by squirting a spike through an attempted BU block. Then a few minutes later, she added the clincher for good measure when she hammered a cross-court winner that Baylor freshman Yossiana Pressley couldn’t scoop up for the dig.
Baylor bounced back like an overinflated Mikasa, however. The Bears completely controlled the second set, running off 11 straight points during one particularly efficient stretch. The Seminoles occasionally helped Baylor out with some miscommunication, but the Bears also proved effective at the net during that run and won the set 25-12.
Florida State didn’t develop a perennial NCAA qualifier by accident, though. The Seminoles pulled together in the third set, and made Baylor play catch-up the rest of the way. After committing 10 attacking errors in the third set and finishing with a negative-.261 hitting percentage, FSU looked like a different team the rest of the way.
The Seminoles whacked away at a .432 clip in the fourth set, then pulled out a tight fourth-set victory to claim the match.
Shelly Fanning contributed 11 kills for Baylor in her first match back since 2015. Pressley, who McGuyre called a “future All-American,” added 10 in her debut, but also made seven attacking errors.
Jana Brusek paced Baylor’s defense with 15 digs, and Aniah Philo had 14.
Baylor will try to bounce back when the Baylor Invitational continues on Saturday. The Bears will face Illinois State at 7 p.m., a team that swept UC-Santa Barbara in Friday’s other match.
Former Baylor libero Alex Bannister served as the color commentator on Fox Southwest’s telecast of the match, alongside John Morris. Bannister is the daughter of Texas Rangers manager Jeff Bannister. … Baylor’s crowd of 3,617 was one of just three in school history to surpass 3,000, and broke the record of 3,044 against Texas in 2013. … McGuyre wore a black jacket and black Wrangler jeans to go with a bolo tie, a nod to his late father, who he said enjoyed Western movies. “One of our personal team goals is to play with some true grit,” McGuyre said. “It’s my John Wayne coming out.”