Norman, Okla. -- Senior libero Maria Fernanda surpassed a career milestone as the University of Oklahoma Volleyball team defeated Baylor in three sets (25-20, 25-20, 17-25), Friday evening at McCasland Field House.
“It was a good bounce-back match for us,” explained head coach Santiago Restrepo. “We played extremely consistent – we passed the ball well and we served the ball well. We did whatever we needed to do to get this win tonight.”
With the win, the Sooners improve to 15-6 on the year and 4-2 in Big 12 action, while Baylor drops to 14-7 overall and 1-5 in conference play.
The sweep was the 10th of the season for the Crimson and Cream, and the third in conference play.
“We played very well as a team,” said Restrepo. “The girls were calm out there tonight, which was good to see. We didn’t put too much pressure on ourselves – we just went out there and performed – which was good for me to see.”
Fernanda totaled a team-high 18 digs to break into the top-five of the Big 12 record books and surpass the 2,000 career-digs marker with 2,006 to her name. She becomes the first player in Oklahoma’s 38-year history to record 2,000 or more digs and remains the only active Big 12 player to rank in the top-10 of Big 12 career leaders in eight separate categories.
“It means a lot for Oklahoma to have a player like Maria, and for her to reach this point in her career,” said Restrepo. “She’s a kid that doesn’t get a ton of recognition. I think that is a player that a lot of people should look to.”
“Maria is the total package – she doesn’t just dig, she does so many other things when she’s out on the court,” explained Restrepo. “She’s a very good passer; she’s a very good leader out there on the court. She has such a high level of patience with everybody.”
“She is always so calm and collected,” which is always amazing to see.
With one block solo on the night, junior middle blocker Sallie McLaurin continued to make her way through the Oklahoma record books alongside her teammate and now owns 69 block solos to her name throughout her three-year career in the Crimson and Cream. The total ties her for sixth overall alongside Cindy Reigstad, who stuffed 69 balls away from 1986-89.
On the opposite side of McLaurin was senior outside hitter Morgan Reynolds who had a career night against the Bears as she struck down a team-high 18 of 34 attempts with just four errors to hit .412 on the night. The total marks a new career high for the Blue Springs, Mo., native who previously set a personal-best earlier this year with 17 kills against Missouri State on Aug. 24.
In addition to her 18 kills, Reynolds matched a career-high two service aces for the fourth time since donning the Sooner uniform.
For the second consecutive match, and second time in as many matches, sophomore Grace Whitley led OU with four total blocks, thanks to one block solo and three block assists.
The Sooners jumped ahead with a 4-0 lead to begin the first set, with kills from four separate players. Baylor attempted to make a comeback, tying up the match three times until the Sooners put together a 3-0 run to jump ahead, 11-8. Oklahoma maintained a dominant offensive presence until Baylor strung together four-straight points late in the set in an attempt to close the gap, but it wasn’t enough as OU took the first, 25-20.
Oklahoma was again on the board first to begin the second set thanks to a Reynolds kill. It was a back-and-forth set in the opening minutes as there were five ties until the Sooners broke away with four-straight, unanswered points to take a 14-10 lead. Oklahoma never looked back and eventually took the second set, 25-20.
It was a different story in the third set, as Baylor put the first point on the board after a service error from Julia Doyle. The Bears held their largest lead of the match – two points – at 3-1 in the opening minutes. Both teams traded points with seven score ties until Oklahoma finally took the lead at the 12-10 marker. Another 4-0 run put Oklahoma ahead and gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish at 16-11. The Sooners all-around presence on the court could not be matched as they took the victory with a 25-17 third set.
Before an October bye, Oklahoma hits the road for two matches. The Sooners will begin their trip when they travel south to Lubbock, Texas, to take on Texas Tech on Wednesday, Oct. 17 then head north to Ames, Iowa, to face Iowa State on Saturday, Oct. 20. First serve is set for 7 p.m. in each match.
For up-to-the-minute updates, follow Oklahoma volleyball on Twitter at @SoonersVB (https://twitter.com/SoonersVB).
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