NORMAN, Okla.- OU head coach Kalani Mahi's young Sooner volleyball squad went into the Cougar Classic and stole the second game from No. 19 Washington State (1-0) on Friday night before finally succoumbing to the Cougars in four games (30-27, 27-30, 30-25, 30-20). After a disappointing 2002 season, the young Sooners (0-1) showed promise against the Cougars who reached the Elite 8 last year.
"I saw very good signs of brillance tonight," said Mahi. "We weren't as consistent as we'd like to be, but our freshman and Keri Coats were very good."
Oklahoma was led by freshman outside hitter Joanna Schmitt who recorded team highs in kills, 10, and digs, 18. Senior Christina Maynes and junior-transfer Keri Coats collected 8 kills apiece, while Coats added four block assists. The Sooners were solid at the net on defense where they collected a game-high 16 block assists to go along with three solo blocks. Freshman middle hitter Laura Tomes recorded two solo blocks, one block assist and five kills in her collegiate debut.
"Keri had a good match," said Mahi. "She was consistent and played a very sound game. Both freshman, Joanna (Schmitt) and Laura (Tomes), did not play like freshman."
Despite a hitting percentage of .000 (10K-10E-37TA) in the first game, OU led most of the game until WSU went ahead at 23-22. OU returned the favor by winning the second game 30-27 after falling behind 10-2 early. The Sooners couldn't sustain momentum in front of the hostile crowd of 963 and lost the final two sessions (30-25, 30-20).
"We outblocked the No. 19 team in the country," said Mahi. "We knew that the added talent would help us at the net and we were effective in our game plan."
Senior-transfer Kelly McCarter was efficient in her debut, tallying 34 assists and 13 digs. Sophomore middle hitter Jennifer Adams didn't get set much but was effective when the ball came her way. She recorded five kills on ten attempts good for a game-high .400 hitting percentage.
Maynes is now five kills shy of sole possesion of first place on the OU career rally scoring kills list.
Leading the Cougars attack was freshman Jennifer Todd who racked up 12 kills and was only outdone by senior Zanda Bautre who collected 13. Freshman Kristen Carlson was the third WSU player to reach double digits in kills with 10.
"We are very optimistic about our chances tomorrow and all season," said Mahi. "We are playing at a different level than we have the last few seasons."
OU returns to the court for a doubleheader on Saturday with Wichita State at 12 p.m. (CDT) and San Francisco at 7 p.m. (CDT).