By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Led by explosive freshman outside hitter Yossiana Pressley, 12th-seeded Baylor cruised to a 3-0 sweep of the Miami (Ohio) Redhawks, 25-19, 25-16, 25-21, Friday night in the first-ever NCAA Championship volleyball match at the Ferrell Center.
Pressley had 17 kills - the most in program history for a three-set NCAA tournament match - and added nine digs, one block and an ace to help the Bears (24-6) advance to the second round for the second straight year.
"Yossi really stepped up. Hitting her in the back row, I think, is going to be a force for us through the tournament," coach Ryan McGuyre said.
Miami coach Carolyn Condit said she understands how Pressley was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year after watching her up close and personal.
"It was something else to see how well they hit around a block with such strong wrists," said Condit, whose team finished the year at 22-9. "I don't even know if they needed their arms."
Sophomore middle blocker Shelly Fanning, who added 11 kills and a match-high four blocks, said she's just grateful to have Pressley on the same side of the net, "because honestly I could not block her if I was on the other side."
"They both know how to build each other up," McGuyre said of Pressley and Fanning, "but when they're on opposite sides, they both know how to kind of rile each other up, too."
"We talk trash, but it's fine, though," Pressley said with a smile.
Baylor jumped on the Red Hawks early in the first set, going up 8-3 on a Fanning kill and taking a double-digit lead at 22-12 on a kill by Aniah Philo after Fanning's ace. The Bears had four attack errors and a service error in a 5-1 Miami run before a Pressley kill closed out the first set, 25-19.
"We didn't end that first set too well, with some of the low attacks we made," McGuyre said. "Our effort's going to take us places, but we've got to play better tomorrow."
There were six ties at the start of a back-and-forth second set before Baylor created some breathing room with an 8-2 run that included kills from five different players. Pressley had seven kills and hit .467 in the second frame.
"She's pretty powerful," Miami senior Meredith Stutz said of Pressley, who has averaged 5.4 kills per set since switching to outside hitter halfway through Big 12 play. "All you can do is put up a strong block, tighten your core and hope you get a couple."
Miami got out to a hot start in the third set, going up 5-1 with three kills by Stutz. But, the Bears fought back and took the lead for good at 10-9 on an attack error by Stela Kukoc, the daughter of former Chicago Bulls guard Toni Kukoc.
The Red Hawks rallied from a six-point deficit to get back within two twice late in the third set before Baylor closed it out on a Pressley kill and Olivia Rusek's attack error on match point.
Philo added eight kills and 13 digs, while senior libero Jana Brusek had 19 digs for the most in program history in a three-set NCAA tournament match.
"It was a battle, for sure," McGuyre said. "I'm not sure it was our sharpest or cleanest match, but the effort was there. For us, it always starts with great effort, and then we've got to be a little bit more technical with some of the things we're doing. Our defense, Jana, 19 digs, awesome, awesome job. She's just been passing lights-out. So, it opened the door for us to continue to do some great things."
Baylor, which tied a program for most home-court wins with 13, advances to face Colorado (23-9) at 8 p.m. Saturday for a spot in the Sweet 16. The former Big 12-rival Buffaloes swept James Madison, 25-21, 25-14, 25-12, behind a 12-kill effort from Frankie Shebby.
"They're kind of a similar version of Texas (with) two strong outside hitters, one physical middle, another middle that's good and an opposite that can put up a big block at times and brings the heat," McGuyre said.
Tickets for Saturday's match are $10 for adults, $5 for youth (ages 2-17) and free for Baylor students with a valid Baylor ID.
WACO, Texas -- 12th-seeded Baylor volleyball (24-6) earned its first postseason victory in front of its home crowd with a 3-0 sweep of Miami of Ohio (22-9) in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Championship First Round Friday night at the Ferrell Center, 25-19, 25-16, 25-21.
In addition to matching their most home wins in program history (13-3), the Bears had 1,610 fans in attendance Friday night which is 10th-best for Ferrell Center volleyball crowds.
Big 12 Freshman of the Year Yossiana Pressley had the best three-set match in postseason history with 17 kills on a .361 hitting effort. Her kill count was 11 more than the Redhawk's leading attacker, Taylor Daignault (6).
Anchoring the back row, Jana Brusek had a program-best 19 digs in a postseason three-set match. Aniah Philo nearly had a double-double with eight kills and 13 dig while Shelly Fanning added 11 kills from the middle.
The Bears came out swinging in set one and jumped out to a 14-6 lead behind key defensive plays by Brusek and Philo, forcing a Redhawk timeout. BU led by as many as 10 before the Redhawks used a 6-1 run to pull within five. Pressley's fifth kill of the set gave Baylor the early advantage, 25-19.
The second set saw six ties and two lead changes early, but a Camryn Freiberg kill helped BU jump in front by three and force a timeout at 11-7. The Baylor defense held Miami of Ohio to seven kills on a .049 attack clip en route to taking the set, 25-16.
BU came out slow in the third and fell behind 5-1 to force an early timeout. Fueled by a 4-0 run with Braya Hunt at the service line, the Bears drew even and eventually took the lead after a service ace from Pressley. The Bears went on a 3-0 run after an emphatic kill from Tola Itiola to extend its lead and close it out in straight sets.
BU matched its most wins at home in program history (13). Baylor's 1999 squad finished 13-1 at home.
Yossiana Pressley's 17 kills were a program-best in a postseason three-set match.
Jana Brusek's 19 digs is the most digs in a three-set match in postseason history.
Shelly Fanning was the second Bear in double-digit kills with 11.
Baylor had four different players record a service ace against the Redhawks (Fanning, Philo, Pressley and Brusek).
In her debut postseason match, Hannah Lockin recorded 36 assists.
BU has advanced to the NCAA Second Round for the second consecutive year until McGuyre.
BU is now 1-0 in postseason matches at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor is now 2-0 all-time against Miami of Ohio.
STAT OF THE MATCH
17 -- the program-best postseason kill count by Yossiana Pressley in three sets.
"It was a battle, for sure. I'm not sure it was our sharpest or cleanest match, but the effort was there. For us, it always starts with great effort, and then we've got to be a little bit more technical with some of the things we're doing. On defense, Jana, 19 digs, awesome, awesome job. She's just been passing lights-out. So, it opened the door for us to continue to do some great things. Yossi really stepped up. Hitting her in the back row, I think, is going to be a force for us through the tournament. And then both of our middles did a good job, either killing the ball or being disruptive." -head coach Ryan McGuyre
Baylor faces Colorado (23-9) in the NCAA Second Round Saturday at 8 p.m. CT in Waco for a spot in the NCAA Sweet 16 next week. Tickets are priced at $10 for adults and $5 for youth (ages 2-17) and can be purchased at www.BaylorBears.com or through the Baylor Athletics Ticket Office at 254-710-1000.