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#5 Nebraska Volleyball Takes on #12 Baylor in the Regional Semifinals of the NCAA Tournament

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Huskers balanced attack vs Baylor’s one player dominated attack

Maddie Washburn

During a regular season game on April 1st, Texas State beat Baylor. Then in the tournament on April 15th Nebraska beat Texas State. Stands to reason then that tomorrow, April 18th, Nebraska will beat Baylor. That is how a math equation would go, but sports are more complicated than math, everybody knows that!!

The match between the Huskers and the Bears will be a clash of two of the great powerhouses of volleyball. Both teams have four all-regional players. Both teams have regularly been deep in the tournament before and won’t likely have nerves for long in the match. Both teams have older players on the court that won’t make “freshmen” mistakes. These factors lead to big time hits, even bigger blocks (it always comes back faster) and dazzling defense.

There are many facets to any volleyball match. Nebraska will prepare and focus on what they need to do on their side of the court but there is a phenomenal attacker on the other side of the net, Yossiana Pressley, 6’0’’ senior outside hitter and Nebraska will have to pay particular attention to her. She is a special player, and you don’t see those everyday.

She jumps out of the gym, she attacks from everywhere and she will get kills. Coach Cook talked about Baylor and his outlook was that Pressley will get her kills but he wants to keep other Baylor attackers from doing any damage. The Huskers will try to contain Pressley and shut down the rest of the offense.

Over 13 of the Baylor attacks come through Pressley, so playing the odds, Nebraska knows where the ball is going to be set. The challenge is stopping some percentage of the attacks from Pressley while defending the other four attackers too.

Baylor has shuffled their lineup in the last few matches but the most likely the four other attackers are: Lauren Harrison, Andressa Parise, Cassie Davis and Kara McGhee. Marieke Van der Mark is reported as injured; that is a big offensive weapon lost for Baylor if she can’t go tomorrow.

Harrison is the other outside hitter. She is a 6’0’’ sophomore transfer from North Carolina. She was first team ACC last year and first team all Big 12 this year. She averages 3.22 kills per set which looks small next to Pressley’s 4.68 kills per set but 3 kills is nothing to laugh at. For reference, Lexi Sun averages 3.75 and Madi Kubik 2.78.

This individual attack differential is a major difference between these two teams. Simply put, Nebraska will try to spread the offense and keep blockers guessing. Baylor will set Pressley more than anyone and she will just beat your set defense with her own skill and ability.

Part of the reason each of the hitters are successful on a spread or balance offense is because the defense is not sure where the set will go. Once they see where the set goes they move as fast as they can to set their defense (both the block and four diggers behind the block) but most of the time there is a break in the defense and the attacker takes advantage.

In the middle for Baylor we will see McGhee and most likely Parise. McGhee is first team all Big 12 this year and was on the second team last year. She also spent time playing with the collegiate national team last year.

She is a 6’4’’ sophomore that blocks very well. She blocks well because of her quick lateral movement. She isn’t as big of a threat on offense with just 1.71 kills per set but she is a person Coach Cook and team will look to make sure doesn’t do any damage in the kills and score department.

Parise played more recently after it looks like she has recovered from an injury. She is a 6’3’’ senior from Brazil that transferred from junior college last year. She was a junior college All American. She hasn’t received many sets in five matches she has played but she has made a dent with blocks.

Interesting to see the highly talented attacking middles from Nebraska matched up against the strong blocking middles from Baylor. I expect some early blocks for Baylor before Nebraska adjusts and gets creative with the attacks in the middle.

Nebraska will also look to serve Baylor tough. They are not known for great serve receive passing. Pressley will be a target because she makes mistakes and it will increase her responsibilities in the match. NU will try to stress her. The Huskers should serve anyone BUT the Baylor libero, Shanel Bramschreiber. She is a solid passer.

I predict a four set match with Nebraska on the winning end.


We talk volleyball on the Five Hearts Podcast Episode 223 (my mic sucks so sorry for that)

I got some right and I got some wrong in the The NCAA Volleyball Bracket Analysis but there are still some predictions in there for the next round.


#5 Nebraska (14-2) volleyball and #12 Baylor (20-6) will play at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday in the NCAA Regional Semifinal round. The match will be televised on ESPNU, streamed at WatchESPN.com and heard on the Husker Sports Network.