By Gio Gennero | Sports Writer
No. 5 Baylor volleyball swept through the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament to advance to the Sweet 16 after a 3-0 win over Washington State University Friday night at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor is now 22-5 this season, including nine straight wins and six consecutive sweeps over opponents.
Baylor’s one-two punch of senior outside hitters Avery Skinner and Yossiana Pressley once again led the way for the Bears. Skinner finished with 17 kills while Pressley finished with 16. Senior setter Hannah Sedwick finished with 45 assists, six digs and four blocks. Head coach Ryan McGuyre said it’s a great gift to have the duo of Pressley and Skinner playing together.
“It’s awesome, I’m just trying not to mess it up,” McGuyre said. “Phenomenal athletes. Avery carried so much of the passing tonight too … her ability to pass then hit is really significant. You know, she’s really good at it for one. That separates her from other outsides [hitters] to be able to gather herself and have great footwork and connection with Hannah in order to do that.”
Pressley credited her performance to McGuyre and Sedwick for leading the team so well and putting them into positions to succeed.
“Kudos to Hannah just for setting up a great offense and getting me some one on one looks,” Pressley said. “Also to coach McGuyre, for talking to me whenever I was hitting outside. He gave me feedback and I was like, ‘Oh, thanks, that was easy.’ It shows how great they are and how well they see the board.”
The Cougars came out strong, taking a 4-1 lead over the Bears to start the match. However, Baylor put together a 5-1 run capped off by an emphatic kill by Pressley to take their first set lead at 6-5. Baylor’s offense clicked quickly as five different players had kills early on in the set. The Cougars were able to keep themselves in it, capitalizing on multiple Baylor errors to eventually retake the lead at 17-16. The Bears quickly got back in front as strong efforts gained them a two-point advantage, forcing a Cougar timeout at 20-18. Washington came out swinging after the timeout and hit set-point over Baylor at 24-22. The Bears were not going to be upset though as another 5-1 run allowed Baylor to win the set 27-25.
The Bears started the second set hot. After an attack error, Skinner responded immediately with a hard-hitting kill to help give Baylor a 6-2 lead. Washington battled back and tied the set at seven after an ace. The set was tightly contested, remaining tied until 11-11 where the Bears’ quick 4-1 run gave them a three-point edge at 15-12. Skinner came alive with a kill quickly followed by an ace to help Baylor jump out to a 19-16 lead. Skinner continued to be a spark as play continued, her block and multiple kills down the stretch propelled the Bears to set point at 24-20, where she delivered again as she terminated the ball to give Baylor a 2-0 set lead.
The third set began as a tug of war. Neither squad was able to pull ahead more than one point until consecutive aces from the Bears gave them their largest set-lead at 11-9. The Cougars countered with a 5-1 run to take their first two-point lead at 14-12. Pressley got hot towards the end of the set, connecting on five straight kill attempts including three in a row to help Baylor go up 21-17. Pressley finished with eight kills in the third set alone. Skinner also came up big with back-to-back kills to put the Bears at set point and give them momentum to complete the sweep with a 25-20 set win.
“Yossi jumps high and hits hard,” McGuyre said. “It’s really fun and there were moments where I got to relive great moments in my playing days through her tonight. Watching her do some great, great things. I’m very proud of our whole team.”
Baylor will play the winner of the match between No. 12 Minnesota and Stanford in the next round.