No. 5 Baylor volleyball heads into sixth consecutive NCAA tournament

Senior outside hitter Avery Skinner rises for a kill against Iowa State University on Nov. 19 in the Ferrell Center. Audrey La | Photographer

By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer

No. 5 Baylor volleyball is gearing up for its sixth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament and is looking to once again make a deep postseason run.

The Bears finished the regular season 20-5 while going 14-2 in conference, and have wins over multiple ranked teams, including their standout 3-1 victory over No. 2 University of Texas. Baylor begins its postseason at home in the Ferrell Center against Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Head coach Ryan McGuyre said he is happy to be on their home court to start the tournament.

“It’s fun, it’s special, it’s not an easy achievement. You got to be top 16 to be able to get the first couple of rounds [at home] out of 333, 334 teams to do that,” McGuyre said. “That’s something we’ve become accustomed to, but it’s also something I’m very grateful for — that we can do here at Baylor and we can do it with our fans. We talk about multiplying the joy all the time. We want our Baylor family to experience it, they help us. Sometimes they’re detrimental to the opponents being at their best. Home court advantage is a real thing here at Baylor.”

Senior outside hitter Yossiana Pressley is entering her final tournament, this time as Baylor’s all-time leader in kills, following her selection to first team All-Big 12. Pressley said she hasn’t yet wrapped her mind around it being her last postseason because she knows they have plenty of season left, and she has her eyes on the national championship.

“We still have so much more to this season, and even though it is single elimination, we’re ready to make it to the national championship and just bring a trophy home,” Pressley said. “So I haven’t wrapped my head around it yet because it’s not time.”

Recently crowned Big 12 Setter of the Year senior Hannah Sedwick said she is also confident in the team as they shape up for the big dance. She said she believes the team has the caliber to make it all the way to the Final Four.

“Yes, I believe that we are playing at that level,” Sedwick said. “We are more than good enough to get there, especially when we are all playing our best, which we strive to do that all the time. I feel like we’re unstoppable pin-to-pin, in the back row, our defense is great, our offense is great, we’re good all the way around. So yes, I definitely think that we’re ready for another Final Four and championship run.”

McGuyre said the team has a good mix of veterans and newcomers, making it “the best of both worlds.” There are a few players who were there in 2019 when the Bears got as close as ever to making a championship appearance, losing to the University of Wisconsin 3-1 in the semifinals, as well as a good amount of players who are entering their first postseason and are hungry to win it all.

“I think it’s important because they know the road to get there is not easy,” McGuyre said. “But also, this is 2021, we got a lot of players that were not a part of that. This team this year has its own identity that’s different and unique from 2019. So, while 2019 was special, we want to make 2021 even more special. That includes all 23 girls on this roster … I think you got a whole team that’s hungry to get there because no one got to the championship game. We got some that are in their first time in the postseason and we got these two [Pressley and Sedwick] and Avery [Skinner] that won it and have experience to know what it takes. It’s the best of both worlds.”

Catch Baylor’s first round match against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 7 p.m. on Thursday in the Ferrell Center.