No. 6 Bears survive tough match against Pepperdine in five set win

Senior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley makes a hit against Pepperdine in the Bears five set win Sunday. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer

Baylor volleyball battled to get a five-set win over nonconference opponent Pepperdine Sunday night at the Ferrell Center. While the Waves aren’t a team Baylor sees often, head coach Ryan McGuyre was impressed with what he saw from the WCC powerhouse.

“Definitely, hats off to Pepperdine,” McGuyre said. “I think they’re going to be a strong tournament team. Well coached, well staffed, and they gave a good fight down the stretch there. Both teams running all over the Ferrell Center floor, made for great volleyball.”

The Bears won 25-22, 19-25, 25-16, 23-25, 15-6. Despite the back-and-forth nature of the match, Baylor still had some statistical standouts. Senior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley had 17 kills, joined by sophomore Lauren Harrison with 15 and junior middle blocker Marieke van der Mark with 11. Transfer middle blocker Preslie Anderson is making an impact early, posting nine blocks in the contest. Pressley was also willing to put herself on the floor, tying Emily Van Slate for the team lead in digs with 14. Anderson, in just her second game with Baylor, thoroughly enjoyed the tough match.

“I think it’s just always great to get to compete against great teams,” Anderson said. “Them coming out here and us having a fifth-setter with them, it almost made the trip worth it. Now, we have a lot more information for things we need to work on.”

Baylor’s front line came out guns blazing, with Pressley, Harrison, and Van der Mark combining for 12 kills in the first set. Baylor never trailed in the opening portion of the game, and won the first set 25-22.

The second set was a disappointing offensive showing from the Bears, as they failed to really connect their hits. Their -.074 hitting percentage allowed Pepperdine to draw even at one set apiece. Pepperdine played well, too, allowing Baylor just seven kills in the entire second set.

They say you can’t keep a good team down, and that proved true in the third set. Baylor was everywhere, hitting an astounding .609% in the third. The Bears play, as productive as it was, was also very efficient. In the entire set, Baylor fell victim to only two errors.

Baylor came out strong in the fourth, but their energy level regressed to the mean after a 6-4 start. Pepperdine went on a 7-0 tear to take a 21-11 lead, keeping Baylor at arm’s length. The Bears did make a run to cut the deficit to 24-23, but it wasn’t enough. Baylor fell in the fourth 25-23. Though the Bears lost the set, McGuyre felt there were still positives to be seen.

“We’re right there, we’re one point away at 24-25,” McGuyre said. “At that point, the hope and the fight is alive, so I thought that was absolutely huge.”

The fifth set showed Baylor’s veteran leadership, marking Baylor’s only double digit set victory in the match. A number of big plays from setter Callie Williams helped Baylor finish strong, putting the Waves away.

Undefeated with two wins to start the spring season, Baylor will be back on the court Wednesday to take on conference rival Texas at 7 p.m. in Austin. The game will be broadcast on Longhorn Network.