Miami volleyball’s 10th ever appearance in the NCAA tournament ended before it really got started.
The Mid-American Conference champion ‘Hawks (23-9,13-3) were defeated by twelfth-seeded Baylor (24-6,13-3) in three sets Friday on the Bears’ home court.
“We just competed against a really fine team tonight,” Miami head coach Carolyn Condit said. “It was a great experience for us and we need to see that type of play more often to play at the level that we know we can play at if we did. Overall, it was a great match and a great learning experience for us and I liked how we kept digging in and kept going after them.”
In the first set, Baylor jumped out to a quick 8-3 lead. After the two teams traded the next several points, the Bears went on a 4-0 run to take a commanding 15-6 lead.
Baylor extended its lead to 23-13, but Miami attempted a comeback. The RedHawks went on a 5-0 run to cut the Bears’ lead to 23-18. However, Baylor finished the set strong, winning 25-19.
Miami took a 4-3 lead — its first lead of the contest — on a service ace by freshman setter Morgan Seaman to start the second set. Baylor then recaptured the lead and went on a 12-5 run to make the score 15-9.
A kill by Redshirt junior setter Mackenzie Zielinski resulted in Miami scoring four of the next five to make it 16-13, but Baylor would pull away and win the set 25-16.
Undeterred, MU began the third set with a 3-0 run. Baylor responded with a point, but kills by senior outside hitter Olivia Rusek and senior middle hitter Meredith Stutz gave the RedHawks a 5-1 lead.
Coming out of a timeout, BU scored four in a row to knot the set at five apiece. Baylor took a 8-6 lead, before two Rusek kills and a block put Miami on top again 9-8. Spurred by a 10-3 run, the Bears took a 18-12 lead. Miami eventually pulled within two at 22-20, but it wasn’t enough as Baylor went on to take the set 25-21 and the match 3-0.
Baylor freshman outside hitter Yossiana Pressley — Big 12 conference Freshman of the Year — dominated the ‘Hawks and finished with 17 kills, nine digs and one block.
“She’s pretty powerful,” Stutz said about Pressley. “All you can do is put up a strong block, tighten your core and hope you stop a couple.”
Sophomore outside hitter Taylor Daignault led Miami with six kills, while senior libero Maeve McDonald had a team-high 16 digs. Seaman added 12 assists and Stutz finished with three blocks.
The game brought the RedHawks’ season to a close, and served as the final collegiate game for Rusek, Stutz, McDonald, Zielinski, Katie Tomasic, Courtney Bemis and Katie Coverdale.
“It very much is a gratifying season,” Condit said. “We’ve had a lot of adversity that most don’t even know about — with broken fingers, and concussions and kids out for a certain amount of time that are usually in the starting lineup — we were still able to pull it off. I’m very pleased with what we did this year. There’s a lot to be proud of.”