Oct. 24, 2000
Oklahoma Takes On Conference Foes For The Second Time
Oklahoma will begin making its way through the Big 12 Conference schedule for the second time this season. OU faces Colorado first on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. at the OU Field House in Norman. The Buffaloes won the initial meeting in three games, 15-8, 15-12 and 15-5, in Boulder, Colo., to open the Sooners' conference schedule in September. The match will be the second contest between Oklahoma Head Coach Kalani Mahi and Colorado Head Coach Pi'i Aiu, former teammates at Kamehameha High School in Honolulu, Hawaii. In honor of the two Hawaiian natives, Wednesday night's match has been designated as Hawaiian night and Sooner fans in attendance will receive Hawaiian lais and Hawaiian Punch giveaways.
Oklahoma then travels to College Station, Texas, on Friday, Oct. 27, to battle No. 25 Texas A&M for the second of the two-match series. The match is slated to begin at 7 p.m. in the G. Rollie White Coliseum. The Aggies, ranked 23rd at the time, swept the Sooners in OU's home opener as six players averaged a .300 hitting percentage or better for the match.
Last Time Out
Looking to snap Kansas' four-match winning streak over the last two years, the Oklahoma volleyball team was unable break the Jayhawks' recent dominance as the Sooners fell 15-8, 15-11 and 15-5, Wednesday night at the Horejsi Family Athletic Center in Lawrence, Kan. OU senior middle blocker Holly McMillan recorded her fourth double-double performance of the season by landing a team-high 11 kills and hustling for 13 digs, another team-high.
OU produced its best offensive and defensive performances of the match in the second game. Oklahoma nearly matched Kansas kill for kill (22 versus 24, respectively) and recorded their highest attack percentage of the match with a .254 average. The Sooner defense also recorded four of its six team blocks in the second game alone.
A Closer Look At OU
The Sooners opened the 2000 season with five-straight wins, a first in program history, and a tournament title. OU rattled off its first four victories, dropping only three games over that span, to win the Lamar Cardinal Classic and earn senior middle blocker Cathy Cook tournament Most Valuable Player honors.
OU has lost its last six matches after finishing one of the toughest stretches of their schedule in which the Sooners faced three of the Big 12's top five teams, including two Top-25 squads. Cook continues to lead the offense with a team-best 4.51 kills per game and .329 hitting percentage. As of Oct. 16, Cook stood in fifth place in the league in kills per game and 11th in hitting percentage. As a team, Oklahoma ranked second in the league in service aces per game with a 1.80 average, with three players ranked among the conference's top 15 individuals in the category.
Colorado is currently 4-3 over their last seven contests, picking up a 3-0 win in its most recent match versus Kansas. The Buffaloes have struggled on the road in the Big 12 Conference, picking up two wins in six tries.
As a team, the Buffaloes are averaging 17.06 kills per game and a .199 hitting percentage. The Buffs rank third in the league as a team in blocks per game with a 2.92 average. Freshman outside hitter Monique Gerlach leads CU with a team-high .343 attack percentage, while averaging 3.12 kills per game. Fellow outside hitter junior Sonja Nielsen owns the team's best kill per game average at 3.55.
Scouting No. 25 Texas A&M
Over its last six matches, 25th-ranked Texas A&M is 5-1, including a sweep over No. 24 Missouri in its latest contest. The win over the Tigers at home pushed the Aggies home winning streak to 27, including a perfect 7-0 this season.
Texas A&M ranks first in the Big 12 Conference and among the nation's best in three categories: kills (18.31), digs (19.34) and assists (16.55) per game. Junior outside hitter Erin Gibson leads the team in kills per game with a 4.07 average. Gibson also owns the league's best digs per game average at 4.25.
Colorado has won the last seven meetings against Oklahoma, including an 21-5 game margin. The last time the Sooners pulled off a win against the Buffaloes was on November 2, 1996, when OU defeated CU, 3-2, in Norman. Colorado holds a 10-4 edge on Oklahoma's home court.
OU will be looking to snap the Aggies' 15-match win streak against the Sooners. The only time Oklahoma pulled a victory out of Texas A&M was a 2-0 win in 1979. TAMU has claimed 21 of 22 in the all-time series.
A Dominating Presence
Senior middle blocker Cathy Cook has been the Sooners' go-to attacker throughout the season. Already this year, Cook has led the team in kills 15 times, nearly doubling her 1999 total of nine. The Irvine, Calif., native has also produced 15 double-digit kill performances, including the last nine of 12 contests.
A pre-season All-Big 12 selection, Cook is currently ranked fifth in the Big 12 Conference in kills per game (4.59) and 11th in hitting percentage (.337).
Among the League Leaders
As of October 23, several Sooners continue to remain among the Big 12 Conference's individual leaders in several categories.
Hitting Percentage - 15th (.329)
Kills - Fifth (4.51)
Assists - Ninth (11.54) Service Aces - Tied-fifth (0.37)
Service Aces - Tied-fifth (0.37)
Service Aces - Second (0.48)
Serving Up A Storm
The 2000 squad has kept up the excellence in the serving game that has come to be expected out of the Oklahoma volleyball team. After ending the 1999 season ranked third overall in the Big 12 Conference and second in the league standings in service aces per game, this year's team is in second place, as of Oct. 23, averaging 1.80 aces per game. The Sooners trail first place Texas Tech by only .18 aces per game.
Individually, Oklahoma has three players ranked among the conference's top five individuals in aces per game, led by sophomore Jessica Barney (second - 0.48), senior Carolyn Kittell (tied-fifth - 0.37) and senior Holly McMillan (tied-fifth - 0.37). Barney leads all Sooners with eight multiple-ace performances, including tying a career-high five aces against Iowa State.
Doubling Up On Double-Doubles
Senior middle blocker Holly McMillan registered her fourth double-double performance of the season against Kansas last Wednesday. The Livermore, Calif., native landed a season-high 11 kills and a career-high 13 digs. McMillan scored her other three double-double efforts against Iowa State, Lamar and New Mexico State at the beginning of the year. McMillan leads the team in the category.
By accomplishing her fourth double-double of the season, McMillan has surpassed her career double-double total of four.
*The Sooners enjoyed their largest home crowd in two years when 1,815 screaming fans watched the Sooners defeat Iowa State. It was the largest crowd at the OU Field House for a volleyball match since the 1998 season when 1,362 fans gathered to watch Oklahoma battle then-No. 12 Colorado.
*The squad jumped out to the first 5-0 start in school history to begin the season.
*Senior middle blocker Cathy Cook has led the Sooners in kills in 15 of the 18 matches.
*Freshman Christina Barlow is the first Oklahoma native to play at the outside hitter position since 1994.
Cook Selected As Preseason All-Big 12
University of Oklahoma senior Cathy Cook was named to the 2000 preseason All-Big 12 Conference volleyball team after being named the 1999 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. The Irvine, Calif., native is the team's top returning hitter and middle blocker. She ended last season ranked 29th in the nation and third in the league in hitting efficiency with a .358.
Cook also was selected to the 1999 All-Big 12 honorable mention team. The last time a Sooner volleyball member was selected to the All-Big 12 team in consecutive years was in 1997 when Patrice Arrington was selected to the league's first team for the second-straight year and the third year that the All-American was honored as an All-Big 12 selection.
Head Coach Kalani Mahi
Kalani Mahi embarks on his first year at the helm of the Oklahoma volleyball program this season. Already this season, Mahi has led the Sooners to a tournament title at the Lamar Cardinal Classic and OU's first 5-0 start in the program's 27-year history.
Prior to arriving in Norman, Mahi, a native of Kaneohe, Hawaii, served as the top assistant coach at Illinois State, where he assisted the Redbirds to two-consecutive second place finishes in the Missouri Valley Conference and an NCAA at-large bid in 1998.
Before assisting at Illinois State, Mahi served as the head coach at Bradley University from 1995-1997, guiding the Braves to three consecutive Missouri Valley Conference Championship Tournament appearances, a first in school history. He joined the Braves' coaching staff as an assistant in 1992, and was elevated to the head position in 1995.