By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
There are roughly 27,400 collegiate volleyball players in the United States. Very few can claim to be the best of the best.
Baylor senior Yossiana Pressley is one of those few. As the 2019 national player of the year, the senior outside hitter from Cypress has her name all over the Baylor record books.
Pressley holds the Baylor record for kills in a five-set match and appears in the all-time Baylor top five in kills in a four-set match, total attempts in a five-set match, 30-kill matches, average kills per set in a single season, career attempts per set, career attempts in the rally scoring era and total kills in the rally scoring era. If that’s not enough, Pressley also appears in the top 10 in kills in a single season, career kills in any era and career attempts in any era.
That kind of statistical dominance is unprecedented, and Pressley has been a key cog in Baylor’s recent successes. However, Pressley’s individual success wasn’t immediate, as she noted her early struggles in the game.
“Even though I sucked, I liked [volleyball] because it was just fun, and I found joy while playing it,” Pressley said.
Pressley wouldn’t struggle for long, as her high school career included numerous accolades. Pressley was ranked among the top 50 high school volleyball players in the country by several outlets and was a two-time member of the Texas all-state first and all-star teams. She was also a two-time district MVP and made three appearances on the all-district first team in her time at Cypress Falls High School.
During the recruiting process, Pressley was drawn to the ambition she saw within the Baylor volleyball program.
“Coach [Ryan McGuyre] had a plan, and he was very adamant about it every single time we got on the phone,” Pressley said. “That was the first thing he was saying: ‘We’re going to win a national championship, we’re going to win a Big 12 championship, we’re going to do this, we’re going to do that’ … that was definitely something that stood out to me.”
It seems Baylor and Pressley were meant for each other, as the coaching staff saw those same characteristics in her.
“Yossi was, in a healthy way, a fiery and intense player … and I think she’s got a tremendous volleyball IQ,” McGuyre said.
The Bears saw the fruits of those ambitions last year, winning the program’s first-ever Big 12 championship. Pressley received multiple awards, but never saw them as individual accomplishments.
“[The] award was a reflection of all our hard work. It wasn’t just me,” Pressley said. “I am the one who happened to get the award, but all of us were definitely deserving of that.”
That hard work has been one of the hallmarks of Pressley’s career, starting from the time she set foot on campus.
“She walked in the gym as a good offensive player and she’s trained hard so she can be great,” McGuyre said. “But the defense took time, and just to see her being great on defense, it just excites me.”
This season has brought frustration for Pressley, as she dealt with injuries that have limited her renowned explosiveness. But even in the face of adversity, Pressley has found ways to have an impact on the team both in game and in practice.
“In sport and in life, when you’re tired, you’re sore, I think we give in to different temptations sometimes,” McGuyre said. “But Yossi has been so good, so instrumental in helping us refocus on what’s important.”
Pressley has also taken on a larger leadership role within a smaller senior class.
“She’s done an outstanding job, I think, of carrying the stress and burdens of the team on her shoulders, and helping us point back in the right direction when we need it,” McGuyre said.
As per this year’s NCAA decisions, Pressley will be given the opportunity to come back to Baylor for another season should she decide to. Whatever happens, Pressley knows her time with Baylor volleyball has prepared her for the next step.
“I feel like I’ve matured in that way, where I’m trying to serve my teammates instead of trying to serve myself, and that has definitely helped me maturity-wise going into that next step,” Pressley said. “Because who knows where I’ll end up? Who knows what team I’ll be on?”
Pressley and the Bears will return to the court this weekend as they head to Austin to face off with the No. 1-ranked Texas Longhorns.