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Check out the top NCAA volleyball storylines from the last week and get a glimpse at what you can look forward to this weekend.
Yossiana Pressley, Baylor Chop Down Ranked Opponents
If you didn’t know the name Yossiana Pressley before this week, you do now. The Baylor junior has led the Bears to a 5-0 start to the season, including upsets of then-No. 4 Wisconsin and No. 11 Marquette, results which rocketed Baylor to a program-best No. 5 ranking in this week’s AVCA top-25 poll.
Pressley earned AVCA National Player of the Week honors after blasting 31 kills versus Wisconsin and 20 against Marquette, making zero errors on 45 swings for an impressive .444 hitting percentage. With her statistical total from the past three matches, Pressley officially surpassed 1,000 career kills, and at 6.25 kills per set so far this season, she ranked No. 2 in the country.
Freshman middle blocker Kara McGhee was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for her 14 blocks in the last three matches.
In an interview with the Baylor Bear Insider ahead of the season, Baylor head coach Ryan McGuyre highlighted the depth of his 2019 roster.
“It helps in how we train because of how good they are on the roster," McGuyre said. “It’s not just fillers, but it is a great group of women that get to battle. So it makes the quality of our reps really good in practice, because we’re really competitive with each other without maybe the same people jumping 100,000 times.”
Sure, it takes at least seven players to win a match, and that group for Baylor includes setter Hannah Lockin, middle Shelly Stafford, outside Gia Milana, opposite Marieke Van der Mark, and libero Tara Wulf, but Pressley, who has taken more than twice as many swings as anyone else on the team so far this season, is far and away the star.
Texas Takes Season’s First Sets From Stanford
The Longhorns couldn’t manage an upset of No. 1-ranked Stanford, but they did push the Cardinal to five sets, becoming the first team to even take a set off the reigning national champions this season.
Senior outside hitter Kathryn Plummer set a new career high with 34 kills against Texas to help her team extend its winning streak to 36 matches in a row, earning her the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week honor.
Texas’ outsides Logan Eggleston and Micaya White each had 19 kills (a new career high for sophomore Eggleston) and hit above .300, while freshman middle blocker Molly Phillips contributed 11 kills, hitting .450, along with seven block assists. Phillips was subsequently named Big 12 Rookie of the Week.
All Eyes on Happy Valley This Weekend
Speaking of Stanford, the Cardinal will travel to State College, Pennsylvania, this weekend for the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge featuring No. 4 Penn State, No. 8 Minnesota, No. 10 Oregon, and No. 1 Stanford.
This preseason tournament features certainly the top matches of the weekend, and perhaps even the biggest matches of the non-conference portion of the season.
Taking on Stanford Friday and Oregon Saturday will be the first big tests of the season for Penn State, which has yet to face a ranked opponent, but has swept all five of its matches so far. A quartet of sophomores—Kaitlyn Hord, Serena Gray, Jonni Parker, and Allyson Cathey—leads the Lions offensively, while their classmate Gabi Blossom quarterbacks the offense and senior Kendall White holds down the libero position and redshirt senior middle Tori Gorrell rounds out the starting lineup.
Minnesota enters Week 3 of the season with a 2-2 record, having lost to Florida State (in a massive upset in the first week of action) and to Texas in a sweep and defeating North Carolina and Florida, both in straight sets.
Oregon has played just three matches in 2019, entering the weekend with a 2-1 record following a four-set loss at No. 6 Pitt on Wednesday night. A pair of freshmen are among the players to watch for Oregon: setter Kylie Robinson, who was named Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after opening weekend, and libero Georgia Murphy. Last year’s starting libero Brooke Nuneviller is now hitting outside and ranks third on the team with 27 kills.
This weekend's NCAA Volleyball matches live on FloVolleyball:
Thursday, Sept. 12
Friday, Sept. 13
Saturday, Sept. 14
Sunday, Sept. 15