STANFORD, Calif.– Baylor’s 2011 campaign came to an end in a 3-1 loss (25-22, 11-25, 27-29, 17-25) to No. 22 Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball Championship on Friday in Stanford, Calif.
Baylor (18-15) making its fourth-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament, and second in the last three seasons, wasn’t able to hold on to an early one-set lead against the resilient Wolverines (21-12). Baylor took the first set 25-22, but Michigan made quick work of the second and fourth sets, as well as out-battling Baylor in a third set that featured 15 ties and 11 lead changes.
“I thought both teams matched pretty evenly and we battled with them, tied at one set apiece, and that third set is going to mean everything,” head coach Jim Barnes said. “That’s where we lost this match. We let them back into the game, and we still fought all the way to the end of that set. I think whoever wins that set probably wins the match. I’m really proud of the way we fought and battled throughout the match.”
Baylor hit just .172 as a team with 53 kills and 25 errors, while Michigan notched a .278 hitting percentage with 63 kills and just 16 errors. Baylor held a slight edge in team digs at 80-79, while Michigan notched one more block than Baylor at 9.0-8.0.
The big highlight for Baylor was on the defensive side of the ball with libero Allison King. The senior racked up a match-high 29 digs, but more impressively surpassed the all-time Big 12 Conference single-season record of 646 set by Iowa State’s Ashley Mass in 2008. King’s 13th match with at least 20 digs and 32nd match with at least 10, brought her season total to 653.
On offense, Baylor got 13 kills each from sophomore Zoe Adom and junior Torri Campbell, along with 11 from senior Briana Tolbert. Junior Kate Harris notched a double-double with 45 assists and 10 digs in the match.
“Bri (Tolbert) had a great year, getting all-Big 12, and King played a tremendous match tonight,” Barnes said. “She was everywhere tonight. Everyone just put their heart on the floor and represented the right way.”
For Michigan, All-American Alex Hunt notched 17 kills, while Molly Toon added 15 and Claire McElheny had 13. Lexi Dannemiller had 53 assists, and Sloane Donhoff had 25 digs.
Baylor got off to a tough start in the first set, facing an early 4-0 hole, but the Bears got going with kills from Tolbert and Adom to tie it at 4-4. After Michigan built the lead back to four at 12-8, Baylor came out of a timeout with a 7-2 run that included five straight kills with two in a row from Tolbert. Baylor didn’t relinquish the lead again in the set, breaking 22-22 tie with three straight to finish out the set 25-22.
The second set had Michigan jumping out to a 3-0 lead, but Baylor got back to within two at 7-5 with a kill from Adom. From there, however, it was all Wolverines, as Michigan scored six in a row to go ahead 13-5. Baylor never got closer than six the rest of the way with Michigan scoring the last eight points to win 25-11.
Tied at 7-7 in the fourth set, Baylor managing to get some breathing room with an 11-5 run to build an 18-12 lead. During the stretch, Adom had three kills and a block, while Campbell added two kills. But, Michigan responded with a 6-0 run to tie the score before Baylor answered with a Campbell kill. Freshman Adri Nora gave Baylor the first of three set-points, but the Wolverines again wouldn’t be denied. Michigan was thwarted on its first set-point at 25-24, but the Bears fell 29-27 on back-to-back kills by Dannemiller.