Loaded Baylor volleyball team earns top-10 ranking to begin 2021
Top national rankings, deep postseason runs, nationally-recognized performers, Big 12 leaders — each has become a staple of the Baylor volleyball program under head coach Ryan McGuyre, and this year’s team is poised to continue that string of excellence with an abundance of returning talent and exciting newcomers as they begin the season Friday.
The Bears will begin the season ranked 10th nationally — their fourth straight year with a preseason top-25 ranking, and second straight year in the top 10. McGuyre says this year’s team is his most talented yet — high praise for a program that won the Big 12 and reached the Final Four in 2019, and went to the Sweet 16 last season.
This year’s team boasts the return of three All-Americans in Yossiana Pressley (the 2019 national player of the year), Hannah Sedwick and Lauren Harrison, and welcomes another in grad transfer Avery Skinner. That last name might sound familiar to longtime Baylor fans; her father, Brian Skinner (BA ’98), is a Baylor Athletics Hall of Famer who played 14 years in the NBA. Avery boasts some hardware, too, including first-team All-America honors and a national championship ring last season at Kentucky. Joining the quartet of All-Americans is Big 12 Libero of the Year Shanel Bramschreiber and multiple other veterans back for another year.
Says McGuyre of this year’s team: “There will be matches where we have all-America-skilled athletes that can’t all be on the court at the same time. (It’s a) great situation to be in.”
They’ll play a schedule that their coach says is the toughest he’s seen at Baylor. Baylor begins the season on Friday and Saturday against Minnesota and Wisconsin, the No. 3 and No. 1 overall seeds, respectively, in last year’s NCAA tournament. In all, they’ll play 13 matches against teams either ranked or receiving votes this year. The Bears were picked by league coaches to finish second in the Big 12 this year, and an always-tough conference slate will give them a chance to surpass rival Texas, picked first to start the year.
Players say the environment on a loaded team adds something to every practice and could prepare them for something special.
“We’re definitely pushing each other in a way we’ve never pushed each other before — emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually,” Pressley says. “We are really trying to be on the same mindset and pushing each other, holding each other accountable and trying to win a national championship.”
Sic ’em, Baylor volleyball!