The Weekly Slate
Wednesday, Oct. 1
Ferrell Center, 7 p.m.
Click here for LIVE STATS from Baylor.
No. 7 Nebraska
Saturday, Oct. 4
Howard McCasland Field House, 2 p.m.
Oklahoma and Baylor tangle on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in the Ferrell Center on the Waco, Texas campus. Baylor is coming off a five game defeat to Kansas on Saturday night, while OU lost in three to No. 9 Kansas State.
Baylor has been a tough team to figure out since the start of the Big 12. The Bears entered the conference season at 6-5, with a pair of losses to Wyoming and a four-game defeat against Wichita State during the nonconference season. The Bears went four games in a loss to Big 12 preseason No. 4 Missouri and four games in a win against preseason No. 12 Iowa State. BU rebounded by defeated AVCA No. 9 Kansas State in four games before dropping a five game match against Kansas.
Baylor had 80 digs in its four-game defeat of Kansas State last Wednesday and just 68 digs in its five game loss at Kansas. Baylor's ups and downs illustrate that its success has been key by consistent ball control, much like OU.
Both OU and Baylor lost in four games to Wichita State and the numbers by each squad were strikingly similar. OU hit at a higher clip than Baylor (.122 to .079) but both squads were equal or close in kills (45 for both), assists (43 to 44), digs (44 to 39) and total blocks (12.5 to 12). Once again both teams had problems with ball control, which led to their defeat.
OU has won two consecutive matches against Baylor and leads the all-time series 18-10. Baylro is 4-2 at home this season with losses to Wyoming and Missouri at the Ferrell Center. The Bears are led by Tisha Schwartz, who averages 4.25 kills per game and has taken twice as many swings as any attacker on the Bears squad. Former All-Big 12 First Teamer and outside hitter Stevie Nicolas tore her ACL last season and now plays libero. Nicolas is averaging 3.24 kills per game and is one of only five playees in Baylor history to record 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs.
After the trip to Baylor, the Sooners return to the McCasland Field House for their second home match of the season against No. 7 Nebraska. OU has not defeated Nebraska, who has won five consecutive Big 12 titles, since 1997.
As for the Sooners
For the first time since the season opening Cougar Challenge, OU has lost three consecutive matches. OU responded positively after the three match losing streak in the beginnning of the season by running of wins in eight of their next nine contests.
The Sooners inconsistency in ball control has hampered the effectiveness of freshman middle hitter Laura Tomes. Tomes who gets better as she takes more swings has only averaged 16.3 attacks over the last three matches, while she was averaging 25.3 attacks during the stretch when OU won eight of nine.
Despite getting just 12 swings, Tomes hit .611 at Missouri and now owns four of the top seven hitting percentage outings for OU since the inception of the current scoring system. Her performance at Missouri jumped her season hitting percentage up from .296 prior to .317 after. Tomes team leading hitting percentage now rests at .298.
OU head coach Kalani Mahi has moved senior Christina Maynes back to outside hitter, after playing the last 11 matches at defensive specialist. Maynes turned in a six kills and a team-high 13 digs against Kansas State Saturday night. Sheena Werling will still see time on the outside but will not likely replace Maynes in the back row.
Senior Kelly McCarter was one of the few bright spots against No. 9 Kansas State last weekend. McCarter came off the bench in the first game and immediately teamed with Jennifer Adams for a block - she would record two block assists on the match. McCarter also recorded 10 assists and one kill (on two attempts) in limited action at setter.
The freshman trio of Schmitt, Tomes and Jackson are quickly becoming the team leaders. Schmitt leads OU with 4.17 kills and 2.76 digs per game. Tomes tops the Sooner squad with a .298 hitting percentage and is second with 1.16 blocks per game. Despite sharing time with senior Kelly McCarter, Jackson is leading the Sooners with 8.23 assist per game, while she's third in digs per game (2.12) and hitting at a .357 clip.
Rookie Of The Year?
The Big 12 schedule is just a few matches old but the season is nearly half done and at this point freshman outside hitter Joanna Schmitt has to be the favorite for the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Schmitt leads all freshman in kills per game (4.17) and digs per game (2.79). The freshman from Wisconsin's main competition is Janaina Correa of Kansas. Correa is hitting .255 (compared to Schmitt's .163) but has lower averages in kills (3.85) and digs per game (2.68).
Shutting Down Opponents
The Sooners continue to be one of the best in the Big 12 in blocking. OU averages 2.65 blocks per game and has four individuals averaging 0.8 blocks per game or better. OU has recorded 15 or more total blocks on four occasions this season, that mark was never reached in 2002. Sophomore Jennifer Adams (1.33) is third in the Big 12 in blocks per game, while freshman Laura Tomes is sixth (1.16). Keri Coats and Kelly McCarter average 0.84 and 0.80 blocks per game, respectively. Adams, Tomes and Coats are all in line to break the single season OU rally scoring.
- With 17 matches remaining the Sooners have 146 total blocks, which is 31 away from the 177 total blocks they posted last season. At their current pace, OU would record 274 total blocks this season.
- OU took both Big 12 matches from Baylor in 2002, marking the first time they had swept the Bears in conference since 1997.
- Nebraska owns a 56-7 all-time series lead over OU. OU has only defeated Nebraska twice since 1989. The Huskers have won 74 consecutive Big 12 matches and have not lost a conference match since Oct. 24, 1999.
- OU had not defeated Oral Roberts, which has won six consecutive Mid Contiental Conference titles and reached the NCAA tournament each of those years, since 1994, a span of four matches.
- OU hit above. 200 eight times last season. The Sooners have hit above .200 eight times this season and in eight of last nine matches, including against Missouri when they hit. 273, their highest percentage in a loss all season. OU is 6-2 in those contests.
- OU's six match winning streak, which was snapped by Morehead State, was the longest of the Mahi era and the best since 1996 when the Sooners ran off nine consecutive wins.
The biggest surprise of the season for OU is the emergence of walk-on freshman Rachel Jackson. She leads OU with 8.23 assists per game and has broken the five game assists record twice. Jackson tallied 52 assists in a five game defeat of East Carolina, then turned around and set up 54 assists in a loss to Morehead State. She broke on to the scene against Tennessee-Chattanooga when coach Mahi pulled senior Kelly McCarter and put in Jackson who tallied 40 (13.3) assists in three games of action.
Many Signs Of Improvement
OU is projected to easily top all of its numbers from 2002 this season. OU averages are up in every category and the improvement has been significant in every area except digs. The biggest improvement has come in kills, where OU averaged 12.68 in 2002 and is up nearly one kill per game at 13.51. At their current pace, the Sooners would record nearly 400 more kills this year than last (1638 to 1167).
While the block assists aren't coming as quickly as they did during the nonconference season, Jennifer Adams is still piling up blocks and quickly closing in on the OU rally scoring block assists record. Adams has 123 career block assists (73 this season) and is 17 away from the career record of Candice Woods (140).
Movin' On Up
The Oklahoma volleyball team announced that its match with No. 7 Nebraska on Oct. 4 has been moved up to 2 p.m., from the originally announced time of 7 p.m.
Get Her The Ball
Freshman aren't supposed to be consistent, Laura Tomes is. When she records at least 21 attacks this season she is hitting .337 (88-27-181), when she gets set 25 plus times she is hitting .321 (65-21-137). Her consistency has landed her atop the OU squad with a .298 hitting percentage. Despite her efficient numbers, Tomes is fourth on the OU squad with 309 total attacks and the ball has only been coming her way an average of 16. 3 times since the start of the Big 12. Tomes owns four of the top seven hitting percentage single match performances in OU rally scoring history and is tied for the best ever outing thanks to a .619 (15-2-21) performance against Louisiana Monroe. Below is a list of the top seven single match hitting percentage efforts since the rally scoring system was implemented:
.619 Laura Tomes vs. UL- Monroe (9/6/03)*
.619 Megan O'Connell vs. UL-Monroe (9/14/02)*
.611 Laura Tomes at Missouri (9/20/03)*
.588 Candice Woods vs. Texas Tech (10/13/01)*
.562 Laura Tomes vs. Elon (9/12/02)*
.550 Christina Maynes vs. North Texas (8/31/01)#
.538 Laura Tomes at Liberty (9/13/03)#
#- set in four game match
*- set in three game match
Giving It a Werl
Sophomore Sheena Werling has been one of the most talented players on OU's squad during her three years (redshirted as freshman) in Norman. This year the talent is producing results after a summer spent on the sand volleyball court. Werling has hit above .200 in five of the last nine matches, including a career-high .346 performance against Missouri. In 2002 she hit above .200 in four matches, only twice when she saw significant playing time. Werling is second on the squad with a 2.96 kills per game and she averaged 3.52 kills a game and 14.8 kills per outing over a four match span heading into the Texas match.
Sophomore Jennifer Adams figured to be the odd woman out at middle blocker when training camp began. Jennifer Mosso had started at middle blocker during the entire Big 12 season in 2002 and appeared to be a lock at the position. Adams earned the starting nod and won't be relinquishing it anytime soon. The California native has at least five (BS+BA) total blocks in 11 of 14 matches this season and has at least five block assists in nine matches. In 44 games last season Adams had four solo blocks and 26 block assists. She surpassed her 2002 block assists total in six matches this season (28) and leads the Sooners with 67 assists this season. Her blocks per game average, now at 1.35, improved in each of the preconference tournaments and has her ranked at No. 3 in the Big 12. When Tomes and Adams collect at least five blocks assists apiece, the Sooners are undefeated this season (5-0).
Most Valuable Player
Joanna Schmitt's impact on the OU volleyball team this season cannot be underestimated. Schmitt leads OU offensively with 4.17 KPG and is the team's best passer at 2.76 DPG. In 15 career matches she has led OU in total attacks 14 times, kills 12 times and digs five times. She garnered MVP honors in the Chattanooga Invitational and was all-tournament in the Cougar Challenge. Joanna Schmitt (480) is on pace to obliterate the OU rally scoring single season kills record of Logan Pierce (342). Schmitt is only 64 kills away from surpassing 2002 leader Megan O'Connell (289) and already ranks seventh on the OU career rally scoring kills list. Her projected season total is more than the current career kills leader Christina Maynes (447).
Maynes Tops Kill List
OU senior Christina Maynes took over sole possession on the OU career rally scoring list after recording 15 kills in the Cougar Challenge. She stands in first place on the kills list with 447. Maynes is also in second place on the career digs list with 451 and trails leader Denise Griffin who had 461 in her career.
Upon Further Review
The Oklahoma volleyball team was awarded the Liberty University Invitational Championship on Thursday, Sept. 18, after it was announced upon the tournaments conclusion that Morehead State had won the title. The tourney title was the second of the season for OU and the third during Mahi's tenure.
Tough Out Of The Gates
The Sooners have perhaps their most difficult stretch of the season at the begining of the Big 12 schedule. OU lost to Missouri, which was picked fourth in the Big 12 preseason poll in their conference opener and fell to preseason No. 2 Texas and No. 3 Kansas State in three games. OU hopes to rebound against Baylor, picked to finish eighth before they face Nebraska and its 74 match Big 12 winning streak