LEXINGTON, Ky. – Baylor hit .422 as a team as the Bears downed James Madison 25-15, 25-19, 25-19 on Thursday in the first round of the 2023 NCAA Women’s Volleyball Tournament at Rupp Arena.

Junior Elise McGhee led the Bears with 16 kills on 27 swings and added five service aces, while Manuela Bibine had 10 kills on 15 swings for Baylor. Averi Carlson had 31 assists for the Bears and Sophia Keene had seven digs.

Baylor (17-12) took control of the match in the first set, hitting a sizzling .577 on their way to the set win. For the match, Baylor had 44 kills and nine errors or 83 swings.

With the win, Baylor advances to Friday’s second round match. The Bears will face the winner of Thursday’s second match between Wofford and homestanding Kentucky.

James Madison (21-10) got nine kills from Sophie Davis and eight from Mitte Veldman.




NOVEMBER 30, 2023


JMU Head Coach Lauren Steinbrecher

Opening statement…

“Yeah, absolutely. Baylor is an exceptional program and an exceptional team. So physical. They’re incredible in the system with their speed and their power. We struggled with their jump top-spin serve, but they’re just good in all aspects of the game so obviously applied a lot of pressure but super proud of our team and how they came out and competed. We tried to start to get them out of the system. I was proud of Savanah Cockrill that she did a good job on the outside. But Sophie (Davis) has carried us all year and did an exceptional job. I think when we’re committed to a block, we have to find ways to terminate the score and block as well. We just couldn’t get enough runs in and couldn’t get enough points for it.”


On struggling on serve receive and how it affected the offense…

Everything, especially the jump top serve. I mean, they were just going on five and six-point runs. I would call a timeout just hoping she misses it at some point. We can’t do that against a team like that, you know, they can’t get that many runs in a row.I thought everything else we did a pretty good job finding our way, but that jump top serve was something else. And she moved the ball everywhere and she did a nice job with it. So it obviously made it very difficult because we weren’t able to go back and turn those kinds of runs.


On how proud she is of the culture on the team…

I’m so proud of them, we have had a great year. Obviously tonight was pretty terrible to experience, but Baylor has a really strong good team. All year they have completed at a high level and even during their preseason and that’s what everyday practice is what you see, so they’re not a team that pays attention to the scoreboard but just loves the game and loves competing. I’m so extremely proud of them, especially the seniors.


On back-to-back NCAA tournament appearances and building the program…

Well, good recruiting and good culture. But certainly, it is not just about volleyball, but our other sports are doing a really good job at JMU. And so, we’re building the brand and growing little by little and just trying to get better every year. And ironically, I think we did score more points this year than last year against BYU. So, you know, maybe if we can keep getting better and hopefully getting easier picks, we can finally turn one into a win.


#4 Caroline Dozier

On how difficult it was to keep things going when out of rhythm …

“Yeah, I think as a setter, it is hard. We’re out of the system. A lot of the options aren’t quite there. So, I think Baylor had an advantage a lot of times there. They have multiple players and are double-digit kills. So, I think it was hard for us to get a real rhythm offensively just because of the tough serving.”


#15 Sophie Davis

On what was working on offense for her…

“I knew to swing line on the slides because my power shot is a cross, but I’ve been working all week and we prepared for the game. So just going in and finding what’s open and just trying to put the balls down and squares when we need points as much as possible.”



Baylor Head Coach Ryan McGuyre

Opening Statement

“Just want to give a shoutout to James Madison University. When you get into the NCAA tournament back-to-back times you are doing something right and there are a lot of good players for them over there. I thought number 15 [Sophie Davis] moved the ball around for them well but in volleyball the margins are thin and just because the score sometime has some breaks, I thought Elise [McGhee] did a phenomenal job from the service line to open up some points and give us those runs. When you get to play the cushion it’s a little bit different and I know they [James Madison] have a lot of servers who can serve a lot of ACEs, but they got dialed in late and we were glad we were able to get out of there in three sets. With what Elise [McGhee] did from the service line along with a few others, I thought our front row did really good putting down the overpasses, which are not as easy as I thought, and as easy as Manuela [Bibinbe] and Ali [Alica] Andrew made them look at times. This is something we work on, so I am proud that we covered maybe all but one of the overpasses.”


On how important it was to stick to your game plan today to get James Madison out of system…

“For us it’s the first part of defense. When we talk about defense we talk about three things, we say, “Sic Em’ serves” and that means the serves that create pressure. The second thing is well formed blocks, and those showed up as well. Not only did we have good serves, but blocking has been a little Jekyll and Hyde for us which has been a bit discouraging this year, but we really focused on it. So, to get some of those blocks after the good serves early on, and in both of the first two sets, is really good. Elise [McGhee] has missed thousands of serves for sure, so we have had to weather the storm sometimes, but champions are at their best and their best is expected so I really liked how her focus has been going into this match and she still had some errors but once she was on a roll, she opened things up. We maybe lose one of our other outsides, but I think a blessing has been how much Elise [McGhee] has matured as an all-around player, playing back row, and serving. Serving is a rhythm for sure, if you can get your first one then serves two, three, four get a little easier. If teams are signing out off your first one all the time, then maybe you’re going to be pressing a little bit more and that creates some errors sometimes.”


On how does having three players with at least nine fields make you difficult to defend…

“Averi [Carlson] does a great job. Her location is really good and with all the skills on my team I am just impressed with our serve receive. I think Lauren [Briseno] is maybe a little under the weather but still manages to cover a lot with her passing. Dacosta [Alexis], Sophia [Keene] and Tenhani [Ulufatu] are really good players so that helps if we can get balls on target. James Madison has a lot of good servers and when the balls are dropping in you, that can cause lots of problems for teams and still gave us fits at times, but I thought Dacosta [Alexis] got underneath a couple of them really well and what could have been a tough serve is suddenly a good pass and then Averi [Carlson] has options. Manuela [Bibinbe] has a strong arm as well as Ali Szech and Elise [McGhee] so Averi [Carlson] has quite a few rotations where she can pick between the two of them. I thought they were fronting the middles a lot tonight which doesn’t mean we wouldn’t run them but when we didn’t set the middles I thought Averi [Carlson] did a good job of getting us some one-on-one looks.”


On what does your next 24 hours look like before your next game…

“The team is going to rest, ice bath, rehab, and get food and then we are going to go watch the next match at 7:30 and start our scouting. It’s a quick turnaround. We probably did four film sessions going into this match and we will most likely only have time for one tomorrow, so it’s crucial to see what we can watch tonight. We may be able to get through one and a half good film sessions tomorrow and then be able to execute that on the court. So, as they get a feel for the match tonight, we are looking to make sure our blocks are going to line up with the hitter as well as there is definitely a lot of firepower, especially coming from the home team [Kentucky].”


# 21 Elise McGhee

On what was working tonight with her serving and the team’s performance.

“Yeah, I think just being in rhythm, especially being able to talk to the server, you need a good

toss in and being able to swing hard and I feel like going for it every single time and

managing those not-so-good tosses.”


On if it’s a rhythm thing with her jump serve.

“Yeah, it definitely is based off rhythm and also just the mindset going in. Coach McGuyre’s owning your mental reset, giving you some time to go back there and dial in for this next point.”


On how playing in the Big 12 has prepared them for the postseason.

“Yeah, I think the Big 12 Conference is great, a lot of teams beat everyone and so we know the competition is really high. So, going in knowing that we’ve experienced really great teams already and we’ve competed with them is kind of a comfort level, like we know we can hang in there and feel more experienced as well.”


#20 Manuela Bibinbe

On the strength of their serving and how important it was to get JMU out of its system.

“Well I think, you know one of our gameplans was to get rid of the middle blocker because we knew she was pretty good, and I’m talking about number 15 (Sophie Davis). So, as we went into tonight’s game, we knew we had to put her out of play and it would have been easier for our block to show.”

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