Volleyball uses balanced attack to down Kansas State on the road

Freshman outside hitter Yossiana Presley and senior middle hitter Told Itiola go up for a block against Kansas State on Saturday night in Manhattan, Kan. Photo courtesy of Sabrina Cline

By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor

Baylor freshman outside hitter Yossiana Pressley continues to come up big for the Bears.

Pressley led the offense with 20 kills and Baylor won its fourth straight match, knocking off Kansas State in four sets 25-22, 25-21, 22-25, 25-11 in Manhattan, Kan. Saturday night.

Baylor head coach Ryan McGuyre said Pressley’s play set the tone for the match.

“It’s great to see Yossi hit at such a high level, a freshman leading a very mature team in kills tonight. She was the difference maker,” McGuyre said. “We can get so much better, but we have some depth and we have some good things serving and blocking. It’s good to see Yossi and Aniah [Philo] do offense and defense so well.”

Kansas State came out strong in the first set, racing to a 5-2 lead, but the Bears began to chip away at the Wildcats lead. Baylor gained the lead 9-8 after a kill from junior outside hitter Aniah Philo.

Baylor then pushed its lead to 16-10 following a kill from redshirt senior outside hitter Katie Staiger.

The Wildcats refused to settle for defeat, going on a 10-3 run to grab a 20-19 lead. With the score tied at 22, three straight points culminated in a kill from Pressley which gave the Bears the first set 25-22.

Once again, in the second set, the Wildcats jumped out to an early 4-2 lead. Baylor then settled in and charged ahead 11-8 after a kill from redshirt sophomore middle hitter Shelly Fanning.

Kansas State continued to battle, tying the set at 14 apiece before Baylor took the lead for good. The Wildcats managed to cut the deficit to two pints at 23-21, but back-to-back kills from Staiger and Philo gave the Bears a two sets to zero advantage with a 25-21 win.

In the third set, the Wildcats controlled the pace for most of the set, building a 21-17 lead. A 4-0 run that started with two Kansas State errors and ended with two kills from Staiger tied the set at 21. However, the Wildcats would live to see a fourth set, following an ace from redshirt sophomore setter Sarah Dixon that gave Kansas State the set 25-22.

The fourth set belonged to Baylor. The Bears got the first two points of the game and jumped out to a 6-2 lead. Kansas State trimmed the lead to three at 11-8, but then an 8-0 surge from Baylor all but finished the Wildcats.

The run started with two Kansas State errors before the Baylor attack took flight. Pressley got it started with a pair of kills. Then senior middle hitter Camryn Freiberg got a kill down the middle of the court alongside two more kills from Philo. An ace gave the Bears a 19-8 advantage.

Kills by Freiberg and Pressley pushed the Baylor lead to 24-10 before Fanning’s seventh kill of the match ended it.

Baylor, playing in its first match as a ranked team since 2009, had four Bears who finished with 10 or more kills. Behind Pressley’s 20, Staiger finished with 14, Philo with 12 and Freiberg with 10. Freiberg was 10 of 14 in attacks with zero errors, good for 71 percent.

McGuyre said Baylor’s depth and ability to attack in multiple ways is what is going to make the difference as the Bears continue to move through conference play toward the NCAA Tournament.

“That’s fun, it’s four people in double digits and Shelly is usually the first or second one there and she isn’t,” McGuyre said. “We’ve got some depth. To go deep in this conference and in the tournament, you’ve got to be able to attack them from different areas.”

Philo and Staiger finished with double-doubles, recording double digits in two categories. Philo recorded a career-high 23 digs while Staiger added 13.

The win for Baylor (16-4, 6-1) is McGuyre’s first win in three tries at Kansas State. It also sets up a showdown with No. 9 Kansas on Wednesday for sole possession of second place in the Big 12 behind Texas.

No. 25 Baylor hosts No. 9 Kansas at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Ferrell Center. The match will air on Fox Sports Southwest Plus.