Last Updated 9:28 PM, August 28, 2021

Wisconsin volleyball beats Baylor 3-1 in top-10 match

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Top women's volleyball offensive players returning for 2021
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12:35 am, August 29, 2021

No. 2 Wisconsin takes down No. 10 Baylor 3-1

Wisconsin responded tonight and really made a big statement. This looked like a national championship caliber team — and only two matches into the 2021 season. The Badgers played at such a high level in all aspects of the game against a really strong Baylor team. If you can take anything away from this weekend, it is that this Wisconsin team is going to be one to reckon with. 

The Badgers took the fourth set by a score of 25-15 and put on a show at the UW Field House. They ultimately outhit the Bears .333 to .164 after dominating the first two sets and then withstanding a good challenge from the Bears to win it in four. Julia Orzol debuted as a Badger on Friday and showed up on Saturday as well with 13 kills, clearly going to be a big-time contributor for this Badger team. The middles, Dana Rettke and Danielle Hart had an outstanding performance with a combined 28 kills on .583 hitting with no errors. That is all credit to Sydney Hilley and the passers who were in rhythm all night. What we saw Saturday was a special performance, you could almost see the energy radiating off the TV screen. 

Yossiana Pressley posted 15 kills for the Bears followed by 13 from Lauren Harrison and seven for Avery Skinner. Despite an impressive performance for the Badgers, do not count out this Baylor team. This is still clearly a strong team that will go through an adjustment period early in the season. 

The fourth set started out looking a little bit more like the match we were expecting to see. A competitive, high intensity matchup between these two powerful teams. The Bears continued to make adjustments and Pressley was often the answer, whether out of the front or back row. But the Badgers showed they were not going to let them take another. They put that third set behind them and went blazing ahead with their home crowd behind them. 

Wisconsin shined the most when they were having fun, moving quickly and efficiently and getting their middles involved. Hilley did a phenomenal job at distributing the ball to all of their weapons, and it was just too much for the Bears to handle. The Badgers served aggressively the entire match. It resulted in eight service errors, but also seven service aces, exactly what they wanted to happen tonight. 

12:23 am, August 29, 2021

The Bears respond in the third set, 25-16

What a response for the Bears. Baylor took the third set 25-16 in a big turn of events. The Bears outhit the Badgers this time .643 to .194. Here is the beauty of sports, Wisconsin absolutely dominated in the first two sets, but the Bears were on fire in the third set. There is nothing a little momentum cant do. Despite the first two sets, no one could deny that this isn't a solid Bears team. The Badgers had them off balance in the first two, but they were able to regroup and respond in the third. 

The Badgers this time were put to the test on their toes as the Bears found their rhythm. Wisconsin was sending a few too many free balls over the net and Baylor annihilated them. Pressley and Harrison are now up to 10 kills apiece after the turnaround third set. Skinner is up to six kills as well. Stay tuned to see if the Bears can keep up the momentum heading into the fourth. 

12:06 am, August 29, 2021

The Bears take first lead in third set

Lauren Harrison and the Bears have turned it on in the third set, taking the first lead of the match over the Badgers. They are currently hitting .667, a BIG change from the first two sets. The Badgers are right there with them though, going point-for-point with them, but it is good to see a competitive set. 

Baylor just went on a 4-0 run to take a 12-8 lead behind one kill apiece from Pressley, Skinner and Sedwick and a big Pressley block. The run forced Wisconsin to take a timeout as this Baylor team shows their ability to adjust and get better. This is a new team this year, and clearly there will be some hiccups early in the season. But now, it'll be up to Wisconsin to keep up the high level play if they want to execute the sweep. 

11:41 pm, August 28, 2021

Wisconsin dominates second set 25-7, leads 2-0

The Badgers take a 2-0 lead after absolutely dominating the second set. The Bears and head coach Ryan McGuyre are left scrambling for answers heading into the third. Wisconsin hit a strong .333 compared to the Bear's -.226 hitting. 

The Badgers started off set two on fire ... again. They went on a 7-1 run to start the set before taking a 13-3 lead with only ONE kill. 13 points... one kill. The rest were service aces, and attacking errors for the Bears, who were struggling against the Wisconsin block. The Badgers defense is predicting everything that Baylor is putting together offensively. 

Wisconsin showed their dominance in the serve and pass game, keeping their unit in system and Baylor on its toes. The Badgers have tallied five aces on the match so far, targeting Skinner and Pressley to get them off the net, and it worked. Sydney Hilley is just dishing the ball out to everyone, including freshmen. They are playing with trust, and having a lot of fun with it. 

In what we thought would be a tight matchup is turning into a Wisconsin domination. 

11:28 pm, August 28, 2021

Wisconsin takes set 1 25-16

Wisconsin volleyball

It was all Badgers in set 1. We are talking defense and offense, clicking in all aspects of the game. This did not look like a team playing just its second matchup of the year. If there is one analysis to make here, it is this: Wisconsin is good. 

The Badgers outhit the Bears .306 to .125 and notched15 kills with only four errors. That is a well-run offense. The combo of Dana Rettke, Devyn Robinson and Julia Orzol is working well together. Robinson seems to be stepping up this season as one of the Badgers big-time contributors this season. She and Rettke led all scoring with four kills apiece in the first set. 
 

Yossiana Pressley led the Bears with five kills, but aside from that, Avery Skinner, Marieke van der Mark and Lauren Harrison each notched just one kill each. 

9:03 pm, August 28, 2021

No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Baylor, first serve 7 p.m. ET

Baylor Volleyball

The highly anticipated matchup between No. 2 Wisconsin and No. 10 Baylor will take place tonight as a part of the Big 12-Big Ten Challenge at 7 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network. 

These two teams have not faced since their 2019 national semifinals matchup, which Wisconsin won to advance to the national championship match vs. Stanford. Now we will see them with new looks and very early in the 2021 season. Baylor is coming off of a big win over Minnesota and now will face the Badgers on the road. Its previous highest-ranked road win was in fact against No. 4 Wisconsin in 2019. If Baylor were to pull off wins against both Minnesota and Wisconsin, it'll be the first time in program history that the Bears have defeated two top-10 programs in the same week.

The Badgers certainly played a lot less points than Baylor did yesterday as well, which is another factor, and they have an experienced offense that is used to playing together and playing on the big stages. The Bears enter the matchup as underdogs, which is a role head coach Ryan McGuyre says they embrace as a team.

8:02 pm, August 28, 2021

Recap of Baylor and Wisconsin's opening matchups

What an opening weekend of college volleyball — and opening day. Both No. 10 Baylor and No. 2 Wisconsin played their first matches of the season on Friday. Both walked away with wins. 

Baylor came out and made a huge statement with its new and improved look this season with a four-set win and upset over No. 7 Minnesota. The Bears looked incredibly balanced offensively in their debut and showed that they have a new strength this season: depth. Yossiana Pressley still led with 19 kills and four blocks and Marieke van der Mark made her debut as a middle blocker this season. Typically, she played opposite. Her versatility shined as she posted 14 kills and nine blocks. We also saw the debut of Avery Skinner in a Bears uniform. Skinner started and notched eight kills, four blocks and two aces. She is clearly already a huge difference maker for this team only one match into the season. Lauren Harrison came off the bench and provided some much needed energy and kills for the Bears that were able to come back in the fourth set and secure the win. 

Baylor head coach Ryan McGuyre was certainly pleased with the Bear's season opener, noting that their depth propelled them past a phenomenal, well-coached Minnesota team. 

For full stats and play-by-play of yesterday's Baylor match, click or tap here. 

Wisconsin took home a win yesterday a little quicker, with a sweep over TCU. The Badgers played in front of a sold out crowd in the UW Field House for the first time in 20 months. A sense of normalcy for volleyball. The biggest takeaway though was the introduction of freshman Julia Orzol, who led the Badgers with 11 kills and three blocks in her debut. Devyn Robinson and Danielle Hart each chipped in eight kills and Dana Rettke was needed for only six kills and three blocks in the sweep. They jumped out to big leads in all three sets and hit .407 on the match as a team. 

For full stats and play-by-play of yesterday's Wisconsin match, click or tap here. 

8:13 pm, August 26, 2021

The top 16 offensive players to watch this season

Every year, we take a look at the top offensive players we can expect to see shining on the big stage for the upcoming DI women's volleyball season. Well, we are doing it again, and this year is even more special, considering we have super seniors returning for their fifth seasons and utilizing that extra year of eligibility. 

We had to narrow it down somehow, so there are no setters included (we will do a separate piece for the quarterbacks) — and we tried to keep it to one player per team. Here are the 16 top offensive players to watch out for in the 2021 season. 

Top women's volleyball offensive players returning for 2021
  • Dana Rettke — Wisconsin
  • Logan Eggleston — Texas
  • Stephanie Samedy — Minnesota
  • Yossiana Pressley and Avery Skinner — Baylor
  • Alli Stumler — Kentucky
  • Samantha Drechsel — Washington
  • Lauren Stivrins — Nebraska
  • T'Ara Ceaser — Florida
  • Emily Londot — Ohio State
  • Grace Cleveland — Purdue
  • Kayla Lund — Pittsburgh
  • Dani Drews — Utah
  • Mac May — UCLA
  • Brooke Nuneviller — Oregon
  • Kylie Deberg — LSU

Honorable Mentions:  Kenzie Koerber at BYU, Nicole Lennon at Rice, Lauren Matthews at WKU 

8:11 pm, August 26, 2021

Preaseason Power 10 rankings

Here is NCAA.com's preseason Power 10 for the season:

College volleyball rankings: Preseason Power 10 for 2021
8:08 pm, August 26, 2021

Preseason AVCA rankings

RANK

TEAM

POINTS

SPRING 2021 RECORD

PREVIOUS

1 Texas (32) 1561 27-2 2
2 Wisconsin (15) 1522 16-1 3
3 Kentucky (17) 1435 24-1 1
4 Washington 1355 20-4 4
5 Nebraska 1346 16-3 6
6 Florida 1275 21-4 4
7 Minnesota 1130 16-3 9
8 Purdue 1096 16-7 7
9 Pittsburgh 1085 18-5 8
10 Baylor 1000 20-7 13
11 Ohio State 981 16-4 10
12 Penn State 902 10-6 12
13 Louisville 806 11-3 11
14 Oregon 776 15-5 14
15 BYU 734 17-2 15
16 Western Kentucky 553 20-1 16
17 UCLA 496 15-6 19
18 Washington State 431 11-5 18
19 Utah 398 13-5 17
20 San Diego 319 13-5 21
21 Stanford 264 2-8 NR
22 Pepperdine 234 15-4 20
23 Rice 223 16-5 23
24 Georgia Tech 193 13-4 22
25 Notre Dame 157 13-4 24
6:06 pm, August 26, 2021

No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 10 Baylor volleyball, previewed

Baylor absolutely loaded up its out-of-conference schedule to start the season. The Bears will have faced another top-notch Big Ten team just the night before, Minnesota. And after Wisconsin, they will face Pittsburgh and Florida. This Baylor team is clearly looking to compete with the best of the best season. The Bears burst onto the scene in 2019, ranked in the top five throughout the majority of the season, earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament and made it as far as the national semifinals. This was largely in part due to Yossiana Pressley, who took home the 2019 National Player of the Year award. The 2019 season felt like a Pressley highlight reel sometimes, just watching week after week how high Pressley could jump. The Bears eventually fell to Wisconsin in the semifinals, led by Dana Rettke and crew. 

Then came last season, the 2020 season played that concluded in the spring of 2021. The Bears lost a few supporting players and fell off a bit. They ultimately finished the season as the No. 13 team in the country, a far cry from their No. 3 final ranking in 2019. The Badgers, though, were back at the national semifinals. The two teams haven't played since the 2019 matchup. 

The Badgers return (almost) the whole lot. Rettke, the 6-foot-8 standout middle blocker, Sydney Hilley, her roommate and All-American setter, and Grace Loberg and Devyn Robinson at the pins. Robinson emerged as a big time player for the Badgers last season in her debut, and it should be exciting to see how she evolves this year. They did lose Molly Haggerty, one key component to their offense over the past four year. 

So if the Bears fell out of the top 10 last season, and the Badgers return pretty much everyone after making it to the semifinals, why are we so excited for this matchup? Well, there is one key component I failed to mention so far. Baylor got a huge boost in the offseason by the transfer of Avery Skinner, the star outside hitter who just played a large part in Kentucky's 2020-21 national championship just a few months ago. So this weekend, and these two huge Baylor matchups, mark the debut of the Pressley, Skinner duo. 

Typically in our previews, we compare some stats, recent wins and losses, etc. Since it is opening weekend, we obviously can't see how they match up statistically. Especially since there is no way of gauging what Baylor's new and improved stats will be with their new look. Instead, I will highlight some top players to watch out for in the matchup: 

Baylor: 

Yossiana Pressley — Pressley is just a phenomenal player. She averaged 4.69 kills per set last season. 
Avery Skinner — Skinner averaged 3.81 kills per set last season on an incredibly balanced, national championship team while hitting .350. 
Hannah Sedwick — Sedwick averaged seven assists per set last season. 

Wisconsin:

Dana Rettke — The four-time AVCA first team All-American and Big Ten Female Athlete of the Year typically leads Wisconsin in scoring as a middle blocker. She is a huge threat at the net as well. Rettke averaged 1.5 blocks per set last season and led her team with 84 blocks.
Sydney Hilley — Hilley averaged a swift 10.88 assists per set last season as the Badgers' QB.
Devyn Robinson — Robinson was a big addition to the Badgers offense last season, contributing 2.71 kills per set on .426, extremely accurate, hitting. 
Grace Loberg — Loberg is another key component to the Badgers offense. When she gets rolling it is a good sign for the Badgers. Loberg averaged 2.75 kills per set last season.

8:07 pm, August 26, 2021

How to watch Wisconsin vs. Baylor volleyball

Baylor vs Wisconsin volleyball

No. 2 Wisconsin will take on No. 10 Baylor in one of our top matchups of the week this Saturday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network. We will also provide live updates during the match here.