By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
For just the second time all season, Baylor lost a match. The Bears opened the season with a close loss to Kansas, and on Thursday, dropped a five-set heartbreaker in Austin to the No.1 Texas Longhorns 25-23, 26-24, 23-25, 13-25, 9-15. As a result of the loss, Baylor’s chances of securing a share of the Big 12 regular season championship dropped significantly.
Baylor’s defense, the Bears’ calling card this year, performed well to open the match, something Baylor has struggled to do this season. Baylor posted three blocks in the first set and was able to draw the Horns into numerous errors across the pair of sets. Texas committed 14 errors in the first two sets, allowing Baylor to create a lead.
Senior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley has battled injury this season but was back in her national player of the year form in Austin.
“Yossi looked back like the national player of the year, so it was good to see her dialed in. She made some good defensive moves and some good block moves for us,” said head coach Ryan McGuyre.
Pressley starred for Baylor, with 29 kills in the match. Pressley also had a pair of blocks, two assists and six digs. Leading the Bears in the assist department were junior and senior setters Callie Williams and Hannah Sedwick. Williams finished with 26 assists and Sedwick totaled 28. Baylor’s blocking wasn’t quite as strong as it has been in previous matches, with Kara McGhee leading the Bears with five blocks.
Sedwick’s performance was especially notable, as this match was the most she’s played in a single match all season after returning from injury. Sedwick also had three blocks and three digs in the match.
Another point the Bears were able to capitalize on was their high hitting percentage. Through the first three sets, Baylor’s hitting percentage was better than or equal to that of the Longhorns. The lowest mark Baylor hit in those sets was 26.2 percent, but it came in a set in which Texas hit 20.8 percent.
The first set went Baylor’s way, ending in a 25-23 win for the Bears. Despite the close ending, Baylor had a solid lead in the first portion of the set. Baylor kept Texas at arms length with a five point lead through the 17-12 mark. An attack error on the match point would give Baylor the set.
The second set was even closer than the first, going to extra serves, and ending in a 26-24 Baylor victory. The set was as back-and-forth as a set can be, with neither team having more than a one point lead until Baylor led by the two points necessary for the win. A 2-0 run from Baylor, produced by a Pressley kill and a Shanel Bramschreiber ace, put the Horns away.
The second half of the match wasn’t quite so kind to the Bears. The third set was a mirror image of the first, ending in a 25-23 Texas win. Despite leading in three statistical categories, Baylor came up short. Neither team was able to put together a particularly large run in the third, but UT did produce a 3-0 run late after winning a challenge on a tipped ball. Texas went 2-0 in challenges on the night while the Bears lost both of theirs.
The fourth and fifth sets went downhill quickly for Baylor. In the fourth set, Texas hit 18 points before Baylor hit five. A lead of that size seems, and would prove to be, insurmountable. The fifth set started close, but Baylor would never make it past nine points, falling 15-9 to end the match.
Baylor will take another shot at the Longhorns Friday at 7 p.m. The match will be viewable on the Longhorn Network.