By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Baylor volleyball is getting used to winning — and winning quickly.
Since a 3-0 loss to No. 11 Kansas on Oct. 18, No. 24 Baylor has swept its last four opponents, including No. 19 Iowa State 25-19, 25-22, 25-17 in a match time of less than two hours Saturday afternoon at the Ferrell Center.
The win over the Cyclones marks the third win over a ranked opponent for the Bears this season, and the first one for Baylor at the Ferrell Center. It was also the second time Baylor has swept Iowa State this year, as the Bears won 3-0 in Ames, Iowa, on Oct. 4.
Baylor head coach Ryan McGuyre said his team was locked in and ready from the get-go and that type of focus was imperative to get the win over a talented Iowa State team.
“It was big because we continue to play well with great enthusiasm and great joy. It was one of the most fun matches we’ve been able to experience against a very good team,” McGuyre said. “They’re a top 25 team for a reason. Iowa State is going to go deep in the tournament. My coaches did a great job preparing us. We looked well-trained and excited to be out there on the court. We got great production from everyone.”
One of the reasons for its sustained success, especially in the absence of redshirt senior outside hitter Katie Staiger, has been the play of freshman outside hitter Yossiana Pressley.
Pressley led the Baylor attack with 14 kills in 31 swings against the Cyclones. In Staiger’s absence, Pressley has not only filled her spot with offense, but with leadership as well.
“I took on the leadership spot because that’s what’s expected,” Pressley said. “In going to Katie’s position, you can’t like, ‘La, la, la, la.’ No, I need to be intentional and be mature and have the same role she had.”
Pressley’s leadership and offense got right to work against the Cyclones. After a Baylor service error on the opening point of the match, Pressley delivered a resounding kill to get the Bears on the board. She added three more kills as Baylor raced out to a 9-5 lead in the first set.
Baylor continued to control the set, hitting .424 as a team with 17 kills as the Bears’ lead ballooned to as much as 10 at 24-14. Facing set point, Iowa State reeled off five straight before a kill by senior middle hitter Camryn Freiberg ended the Cyclones’ rally.
The second set was back and forth, but the Bears finally gained control at 17-16 after a kill from junior outside hitter Aniah Philo. A few points later, Philo’s ace found a gap in the Cyclones’ defense to push the Baylor lead to 21-18. Another kill from Pressley forced another Iowa State timeout.
The Bears earned set point at 24-20, but the Cyclones temporarily delayed the win on back-to-back Baylor errors. Refusing to give in to the Cyclones, Pressley once again rose to the occasion, powering her fifth kill of the set that ripped through the Iowa State defense to give Baylor the 25-22 set win.
The third set began similar to the second, with neither team being able to find their footing as they traded off the first 24 points to the tune of a 12-12 tie.
From that point forward, Baylor took control. It started with an Iowa State error and then a timely kill from Pressley. Iowa State got one point back, but then freshman setter Hannah Lockin caught the Cyclones napping with a nifty over-the-head tap for a winner. Then Pressley delivered a strike to the back corner, putting Baylor in front 16-13 and forcing an Iowa State timeout.
Then Pressley showed off her serving skills. First it was a low-to-the-net sinker that the Cyclones couldn’t handle. The next serve led to an easy kill from redshirt sophomore middle hitter Shelly Fanning, who finished the match with nine kills.
Baylor continued to control the pace as Philo capped off her 13-kill match with three kills down the stretch to give the Bears match point at 24-17. Baylor then sent Iowa State home with a straight sets loss as Freiberg’s kill was tipped and then found the floor to secure the Baylor victory.
Pressley said that it was the team’s preparation that helped the Bears put on an impressive display in front of the home crowd.
“We prepared very well for this match, so it means a lot for the hard work to pay off,” Pressley said.
It wasn’t just Pressley that had her way with the Cyclones. The Bears hit .302 as a team and the defense didn’t make anything easy for Iowa State. Senior libero Jana Brusek led the way with 12 digs, junior setter Braya Hunt added 10. The Bears also got seven points on the block and limited Iowa State to a .192 hitting percentage.
Lockin ran the offense efficiently, contributing 40 assists to the 45 Baylor kills. She eclipsed the 1,000 assist mark on the year, drawing high praise from McGuyre.
“It affirms the fact that I think we have one of the best setters in the whole country and she’s proven it as a freshman,” McGuyre said.
No. 24 Baylor (20-5, 10-2) will hit the road to Lawrence, Kan. for a rematch with No. 12 Kansas (19-4, 9-2) at noon Saturday.