Volleyball reopens season with defense-led sweep of North Texas

Kara McGhee and Hannah Sedwick leap to make a block at the net during Baylor's 3-0 sweep of North Texas to open the spring season Friday at the Ferrell Center. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Matthew Soderberg | Editor-in-Chief

No. 6 Baylor volleyball opened its spring season with a 3-0 (25-16, 25-17, 25-13) sweep over North Texas. The Bears’ defense led the way as the Mean Green failed to hit positive Friday in Waco.

The home team’s offense struggled in its first match in over three months, hitting just .260 while sophomore middle blocker Kara McGhee and junior opposite Marieke van der Mark were the only players to clear .300.

The lack of production from their side of the court didn’t seem to matter much to the Bears as they held North Texas to -.019 with a strong performance from the back of the defensive forward.

““I thought the floor defense was very good. Emily [Van Slate], Callie [Williams], but Shanel [Bramschreiber] did a great job with Soup [Campbell Bowden] and Yossi [Pressley] contributing,” head coach Ryan McGuyre said. “I liked our floor defense, and I liked our serving game, but like I said, the backcourt defense was great.”

Senior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley paced the Baylor offense with 15 kills on 39 attempts, followed by sophomore outside hitter Lauren Harrison with nine on 21 attempts and sophomore middle blocker Kara McGhee with seven on 14.

McGhee also led Baylor’s stout defense with four blocks, while junior libero Shanel Bramschreiber put up 16 digs and sophomore defensive specialist Emily Van Slate supplied 11 to bolster the back line. McGuyre said he thought Baylor’s back line, and especially Bramschreiber, provided an all-star level performance

“Anything that got past the block, we got up,” McGuyre said. “Shanel [Bramschreiber] to me is an All-American libero. She really picked her spots well, and I love how quickly she’s making adjustments. She has great court ownership.”

Senior setter Hannah Sedwick provided a balanced approach with 25 assists, three blocks, three digs and two kills, and junior setter Callie Williams added nine assists with four digs.

After three months off and with an unfamiliar schedule on the way, McGuyre said despite half a season already gone, this spring provides an opportunity to improve even more from their 13-3 conference record.

“It felt like a good 1-0 start to a new season. We’re trying to do what is not easily done,” McGuyre said. “I think it’s important. Like Pepperdine coming in on Sunday, they’ve had eight matches. Some of those misconnections we had tonight, I feel fine and confident that we will get those dialed in, but there’s a little bit more sense of urgency where those hiccups can’t happen against good teams like Pepperdine or Texas next week. We are going to look a lot better in a month, but right now we’re playing those teams that have had a head start.”

The Bears (14-3, 13-3) will return to the court at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Ferrell Center against Pepperdine. The game will be streamed on Big 12 Now through ESPN+.