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Hey, I know you: Big 12 opener serves up reunion for Baylor, TCU coaches

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Baylor head volleyball coach Ryan McGuyre (center) will go up against his former assistant Jason Williams (back left) when the No. 14 Bears face TCU in the Big 12 opener Wednesday.

Even when you try to treat every match the same, the start of conference play always lends an extra layer of excitement.

Wednesday’s Big 12 volleyball opener is doubly so for Baylor coach Ryan McGuyre.

It’s not often that the opposing coach is a close friend, a legitimate lifelong confidant. It’s even less common for the opposing coach to have spent hours upon hours in your own team’s huddles. But that’s the scene for this upcoming Baylor-TCU matchup, as McGuyre will match wits with Jason Williams, who spent seven seasons as a BU assistant before taking over the Horned Frogs program last December.

“It’s exciting for me. He’s a phenomenal coach,” McGuyre said. “He’s a big reason why we were successful. He’s also a friend, I consider him a friend. For me, volleyball is just a small part of the big picture. So, it’s one of those things where we want to do well, we want to represent Baylor well, but I still root for him, I root for Callie (Williams), that’s another Baylor Bear there, too.

“I hope TCU plays the best volleyball they’ve ever played against us and challenges us and makes us better, and I want nothing but success for them.”

Indeed, TCU’s side will also include Callie Williams at setter. Callie is a former Super Centex star at Midway (and Jason’s daughter) who spent three seasons at Baylor after transferring from Tennessee. In her first season in Fort Worth and final season as a collegian, she leads the Frogs (5-6) with 342 assists and ranks second on the team with 89 digs.

So, yeah, it’ll be a little weird seeing Jason and Callie on the other side, along with TCU volunteer assistant coach Preslie Anderson, a former BU middle blocker. They’ll all be wearing purple, but it’ll be hard for the Baylor players and coaches to ever consider them “enemies.”

“I definitely think it’s going to be like a really fun atmosphere,” Baylor libero Lauren Briseno said. “Obviously we have a lot of close relationships. I have a really close relationship with Callie and Preslie, especially, but Callie training me from the very beginning at right-back defense for my freshman year. So, I definitely think we are prepared for when they are across the net for us, but I think it’s going to be really fun. It’s going to be a really good challenge.”

The way Baylor (10-2) has been cooking lately, the Bears may heat up a batch of Frog soup. The Bears enter conference play riding a nine-match winning streak, and they’ve finished off their rallies with a high rate of efficiency of late. The Bears are hitting .294 in their winning streak, with six matches upward of .300 hitting, which means they’re effectively limiting their attacking errors.

Nevertheless, McGuyre believes they can still be better. He wants an entire team full of Arnold Schwarzenegger-level terminators.

“We’ve talked about pin hitters being dynamic,” the coach said. “For us, they’ve got to be better and elevate, annihilate, locate and deviate, mix it up with tips, rolls. Humiliate is the other one, hitting off the edge of blocks. Those are the five things that lead to being a dynamic hitter in our gym.

“So, I want all of them to be great at all five. I’d probably say that all of them are great at two things now, maybe it’s just one at the beginning (of the season). We’re trying to get three, four and five going.”

Certainly, Jason Williams and TCU may be able to decipher some Baylor tendencies. Williams knows this Baylor roster as well as he knows his own family. Even the newbies, as he helped recruit them to the BU program and instructed them in camp settings.

“We definitely cannot use the same hand signals and verbal calls in the match tomorrow,” McGuyre said, chuckling. “Or maybe we will use them, and they’ll mean something different. We’ll see.”

At any rate, McGuyre ultimately wants the best for his buddy. He wants to see TCU win lots of matches — with a couple of notable exceptions, of course.

“I hope we beat Jason both times, and he wins all the rest,” McGuyre said. “Either way, I’m rooting for his success.”

Bear Facts

Baylor’s top hitter Lauren Harrison will be out with injury for this match. McGuyre said he was hoping Harrison would be ready to go, but it wasn’t meant to be. … This week marked the first of the season where a Baylor player didn’t win the Big 12’s Rookie of the Week honor. In the first three weeks, BU true freshman setter Averi Carlson won the award twice, while redshirt freshman hitter Riley Simpson won it once. This week it went to Oklahoma middle blocker Morgan Perkins. … In a win over Tulsa last week, Baylor’s sister combo of Elise and Kara McGhee tied for the team lead with 12 kills. Elise, the younger of the pair, said with a laugh that she thought the statistician missed one of her kills and that she really had 13. “I was like, ‘Dang, one more kill and I could have beat you.’ But, it’s fine,” Elise said. “It’s definitely friendly competition always with (Kara), and I love playing with her.”

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