By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer, Video by Nate Smith | Broadcast Reporter
No. 3 Baylor volleyball earned their 15th sweep (25-15, 29-27, 25-18) of the season Sunday against Iowa State. After losing six of their previous 12 sets, the Bears assembled their highest hitting percentage in a match since Sept. 28.
After a seven-game run with an average hitting percentage of .222, Baylor’s .379 Sunday represents a return to form. Going into the Texas match, Baylor’s offense had been struggling, and then the hammering they received in Austin set back the defense as well.
Follow that with two more lackluster performances, and the team was bound to be either down for the count or fired up. Redshirt-sophomore Marieke van der Mark said postgame it was the latter.
“We were all just ready to show what Baylor volleyball was,” van der Mark said. “It still felt like a battle. The second set … we played our hearts out, they played their hearts out and it was just a good battle. We all loved every single second of it.”
Baylor was led by the starting duo of junior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley and van der Mark, registering 29 kills on 55 attacks. Head coach Ryan McGuyre said those two players were the catalysts for the team’s success.
“I think [van der Mark] set the tone for us and really kind of opened it up. Teams are going to focus in on [Pressley], and we were able to get a lot of kills from other places, but specifically [van der Mark] early on; and then we can go back to [Pressley] later on,” McGuyre said.
The two hitters also managed their swings well, combining for only seven errors. McGuyre’s goal this season is to stay around 10% errors, and the Bears were finally able to hit that mark Sunday after a lousy stretch in that department. The head coach said clean play is what will keep them in matches down the stretch.
“Not only is it making the opponents earn points, but it extends some runs and rallies,” McGuyre said. “So, you know, maybe we’re able to stop them on their first attack; and then if we’re not killing it, we kind of know what’s coming the next time around, so you have a better advantage.”
Pressley said for the offense to be working, the hitters need to be making the setter look good, and the setter needs to be making the hitters look good. Junior Hannah Lockin did just that, racking up 38 assists and three kills of her own in the win. Lockin said the team was finally getting back in rhythm.
“I felt like our offense today was really in the flow, and the majority of the time it was definitely Baylor volleyball,” Lockin said. “It just felt a lot better. Especially the first set, we just rolled over them … the offense was really connecting so that was cool.”
The Bears will get some rest this week with a mid-week bye before heading to Lubbock for a 1 p.m. match Saturday at Texas Tech. The game is available online at texastech.tv.