By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer, Video by Nate Smith | Broadcast Reporter
For the first time since 2001, Baylor volleyball beat No. 1 Texas Wednesday at the Ferrell Center. The five-set (25-23, 25-23, 21-25, 23-25, 15-9) victory is the first time the No. 3 Bears have beaten a No. 1 squad in the program’s history.
Junior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley tied a season-high in kills (31) and set a career-high in digs (24) and attacks (82). After the match, head coach Ryan McGuyre said Pressley played like the best player in the country.
“She’s got to be a top national Player of the Year candidate, for sure,” McGuyre said. “[Texas is] so big and so physical and for Yossi to get some of those kills down the stretch, she was really having to paint the lines and hit the corners … so for her to drop 31 kills on just a great, great, great team defensively, it just speaks to who she is.”
The rest of the team made big contributions. Senior outside hitter Gia Milana posted nine kills, while the middle blockers, freshman Kara McGhee and fifth-year senior Shelly Stafford, each had eight. Junior setter Hannah Lockin also posted 53 assists in the win.
As good as the offense was, the game’s saving grace was the defense. McGhee knocked down six blocks. Senior libero Tara Wulf dove her way to 22 digs, while Lockin posted her 11th double-double of the season, adding 11 digs to her assist total. The setter said postgame the entire team got up for the big match.
“Everybody just stepped up their game,” Lockin said. “I think Yossi stepped up her game, everybody. Marieke, Shelley, Kara, Gia, everybody. All the back row players just did amazing, and we really executed.”
Another big difference from this match to the blowout in Austin was the crowd. The fans at the Ferrell Center broke the attendance record nearly two-times over, with 7,357 people showing out to support their teams. Lockin said the crowd was unlike anything she’s seen at a volleyball match.
“I came out for setters’ warm-up and it was … almost more people than in our regular games,” Lockin said. “Periodically, just noticing there’s a basketball crowd here, and that was so exciting and definitely helped us get the win.”
McGuyre said the win sets up a top-four seed in the postseason tournament assuming wins in the final three matches, and that would be the first time hosting the first four rounds in school history. Pressley said after the match Baylor is ready to go the distance
“It definitely proves that we can battle and that we have multiple weapons, but we’ve got to finish our conference first and then we can look into the playoffs,” Pressley said.
Baylor will look to continue their best season in school history at 3:00 p.m. Saturday in Manhattan, Kan. against Kansas State. With three more wins, Baylor can lock up a co-conference championship for the first time in school history.