With the No. 1-ranked Baylor Bears coming to Ames on Wednesday at 8 p.m., Iowa State will have to deal with one of the best offensive attacks against Baylor and perhaps the best offensive player in the nation — Yossiana Pressley.
Pressley leads the nation in kills per set and against the Cyclones in Ames last season, she set a career high for kills in a game. Baylor has numerous other weapons on the attack, but stopping Pressley will be vital for the Cyclones.
Coach Christy Johnson-Lynch said what makes Pressley such a good hitter is her athleticism, ability to hit from both the front and back row and her ability to hit different kinds of shots.
Last season in Ames, Pressley recorded 39 killls, a career high, and had a hitting percentage of .390.
Avery Rhodes, a middle blocker for the Cyclones, was had been injured prior to the game said it was hard watching Pressley set a career high.
This time around though, Rhodes will be one of the players tasked with slowing down Pressley at the net.
Rhodes played against Pressley during club play and has a good idea of how to knock Pressley off of her usual game.
“Blocking her is hard because she is such a good player," Rhodes said. "But the more you can touch it, the more she starts thinking and the more she starts thinking she’ll mess up and that’s when you can get into a really good outside set is when you are constantly touching it.”
With Pressley and several other scoring options on the attack, Johnson-Lynch said the Cyclone’s block will have their hands full with Baylor’s quick setting and numerous offensive options.
“That’s what good teams do,” Johnson-Lynch said. “They don’t just have one or two options they have four or five and I think that’s what makes [Baylor] good.”
Outside of Pressley, Johnson-Lynch said Baylor’s middle blockers are playing well and mentioned Gia Milana, who is averaging 2.23 kills a set and has a hitting percentage of .244, specifically.
Compared to Milana, Pressley is averaging 5.92 kills a set, which leads the nation, and has .340 hitting percentage.
Outside of the block, the Cyclones need to have their back row keep the team in the game by keeping the ball alive.
Michal Schuler — the Cyclone’s starting libero — said the back row has been focusing on ball control and making scrappy plays against Baylor.
“I think good defense can be frustrating,” Johnson-Lynch said. “We know it from the other side when it feels like that the other sides always touching the ball on the block or jusr somehow, you just have to work so hard to get a kill. That’s super frustrating.”
Schuler has been averaging 2.57 digs a set, which is second on the team behind Izzy Enna.
Rather than playing farther back, Schuler will be playing closer to the net since Pressley tends to hit her shots straight down. Schuler will have less ground to cover in front of her, but the Bears’ shot attempts will be coming fast.
When evaluating Pressley, Schuler said she has had experience playing against that type of shot with her brothers, who play volleyball.
“She kind of hits like a guy and I’ve played against my brothers a lot, and so if I just change my mindset to digging my brothers, that could help me in the backrow,” Schuler said.
Regardless of how well the Cyclones gameplan against the rest of Baylor, it will be the player in the No. 22 jersey — Pressley — which will be the Cyclones’ biggest challenge on Wednesday.