By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
“From day one, the goal is ‘Hey, let’s try and accomplish something that’s nearly impossible,’” Ryan McGuyre, Baylor volleyball head coach, said in the season opener press conference. “A championship, I think, is realistic.”
There is a lot of confidence surrounding the team heading into this season. The Lady Bears have been ranked No. 10 in this preseason’s AVCA coaches poll. Their season opener is Friday against No. 7 Minnesota. Following that matchup the Lady Bears have tough matches against No. 2 Wisconsin, No. 9 Pittsburgh and two matches against No. 6 Florida. Despite their tough early schedule, McGuyre said he is excited for the challenge and looks to make some leaps in the rankings.
“If we can get some W’s I think it gives us a great shot at a top four spot,” McGuyre said.
The talent of this year’s team is undeniable, with great depth and confidence, there is a lot to be said for the potential of this team. Multiple players expressed the abundance of talent on their team and spoke with high regards for their teammates.
“When we’re playing six-on-six, we have the best two teams in the country,” senior setter Hannah Sedwick said.
“This is probably the most talented team I’ve been on,” junior middle blocker Kara McGhee said.
“When the first team in your head looks good, then the group right behind them looks just as good,” McGuyre said.
Even with the addition of new players, the team is very close and has meshed well together. Sedwick said it was a “breath of fresh air” not having to get her temperature checked every time she walked through the doors. McGuyre believes with COVID-19 restrictions lifted, the already close team will benefit more, especially with the upcoming stretch of road matches.
“It’s a huge difference,” McGuyre said. “The COVID rules in general are just detrimental to team unity and bonding.”
A big addition is transfer senior Avery Skinner. Transferring from the University of Kentucky, Skinner was part of UK’s National Championship squad and brings that experience with her. Skinner is a solid outside hitter who is tied for Kentucky’s record of at least four games with more than 20 kills.
Four-time All-American Yossiana Pressley is returning for her fifth season. Last season she led the nation in kills with 488 while passing former Lady Bear Katie Staiger in career kills, finishing with 1,942 kills. Pressley, along with Skinner, was unanimously named to this season’s All-Big 12 preseason team.
“I approach every season the same,” Pressley said, “If we play for each other and the Lord, everything should go as planned.”
The Lady Bears begin their quest for a championship 8:30 p.m. Friday when they take on No. 7 Minnesota at Wisconsin Field House in Madison, Wis.