By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
Baylor came out strong in the weekend’s first match with Iowa State Friday, sweeping the Cyclones three sets to none, 25-20, 25-23, 25-16. Baylor’s strong showing continued in the stats department too, leading the game in four of the eight categories.
Graduate middle blocker Laché Harper continued her hot streak, with another four blocks in the match. Harper was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week after the series with Texas Tech and now has a total of 28 blocks on the season, good for 16th in the nation.
Other Bears with strong performances included senior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley and redshirt junior setter Callie Williams. Pressley finished with 11 kills, and was joined by redshirt junior opposite hitter Marieke van der Mark as the only Bears with double digit kills. Williams tallied 31 assists, four more than any other player in the match. For head coach Ryan McGuyre, Williams was one of the most impactful players in the match.
“I was really impressed with Callie’s defense, she made a lot of great digs and led us in digs. It was a night where I felt like we won the serve and pass battle,” McGuyre said.
Baylor has struggled on the first night of some back-to-backs this season, posting only one sweep to this point, a big win against TCU. One of McGuyre’s points of emphasis coming into the match was bringing high levels of energy into the first night. Baylor has yet to lose on the second night of a back-to-back.
The first set was a tight one, with Baylor winning 25-20. It was a back-and-forth set, with neither team developing a run longer than 5-0. Baylor had three aces in the first set, well over the team’s average of 1.13 per set.
The second set was even closer, as Baylor came out with a 25-23 victory, after one of their longer sets of the season. Similar to the first set, neither team was able to build much of a lead. Baylor had a three point lead at multiple points, but never had a lead larger than that.
The third set was the most lopsided, ending in a 25-16 Baylor win. Baylor used a pair of 3-0 runs to build a lead and stayed ahead throughout the remainder of the set. The Bears took an early 2-1 lead on a kill from Van der Mark and never looked back. From that point on, Baylor controlled the match. Iowa State struggled to draw within three points for the duration of the set.
Baylor has one more match vs. Iowa State, which will be played at 4:30 p.m on Saturday in Ames, Iowa. The game can be viewed on Big 12 Now and ESPN+.