Oct. 9, 2000
Sooners Battle Red River Rival, Host Surging Tigers
Oklahoma (6-9, 1-6 Big 12) and Texas (4-10, 3-4 Big 12) will square off in volleyball's version of the Red River Rivalry on Wednesday, Oct. 11, in Austin, Texas. The match is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in Gregory Coliseum.
The Sooners will then host a surging Missouri Tigers (14-2, 5-2 Big 12) team on Saturday, Oct. 14, at 7 p.m. in the OU Field House.
Last Time Out
The University of Oklahoma volleyball team ran into another formidable Big 12 Conference opponent on Saturday as they were swept, 15-4, 15-9 and 15-7, by Kansas State at the OU Field House. Despite battling with the Wildcats early in each game, the Sooners were unable to stop KSU's offensive attack as the team combined for a .315 hitting percentage in the match and three players registered double-digits in kills. Senior middle blocker Cathy Cook led the team with 11 kills.
The team found it hard to mount a threatening offensive attack against the Texas Tech defense as Oklahoma was swept by game scores of 15-9, 15-6 and 15-7, Wednesday night at the United Spirit Arena in Lubbock, Texas. TTU caused problems for OU at the net as the Sooners were unable to score around 15 Red Raider blocks. Cook led the team in kills with eight, followed by senior outside hitter Maria Holmgren with six. OU established its own presence at the net with a total of eight blocks, including 10 block assists. Cook also led the team in blocks with four. The Oklahoma defense also held Texas Tech, who is averaging a .260 attack percentage coming into the match, to a .195 hitting percentage.
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.
Since the Sooners' torrid start, OU has dropped nine of its last 10 contests. Cook continues to lead the offense with a team-best 4.60 kills per game and .342 hitting percentage. As of Oct. 2, Oklahoma ranked second in the league in service aces per game with a 1.98 average, with three players ranked among the conference's top 10 individuals in the category.
The Texas Longhorns are struggling this season to reclaim the national dominance they have possessed in seasons past. After finishing third in the Big 12 Conference last year and beginning the season as a favorite to win the conference, the Longhorns have mustered only four wins. UT recently snapped a five-match losing streak as they rebounded with a 3-2 win at Kansas last weekend.
The Longhorns' troubles extend to poor hitting. On the season, Texas is only averaging a .193 attack percentage and 15.11 kills per game. Junior outside hitter Kathy Tilson leads all hitters with a 3.68 kills per game average, while freshman middle blocker Kathy Hahn has established a team-best .274 attack percentage.
With a new head coach to start the 2000 season, the Missouri Tigers have begun to turn their program around. The Tigers jumped out to a 10-0 start before suffering its first loss of the year. For their efforts, Missouri received recognition in the USA Today/AVCA Poll last week with 70 points, just missing a top 25 ranking. The Tigers' only two losses came at the hands of top 25 conference opponents Nebraska, 3-0, and Texas Tech, 3-2. MU is currently riding a two-match winning streak with a recent 3-0 win at Texas.
The Tigers' recent dominance has been aided by strong offensive and defensive play. Missouri trails only No. 1 Nebraska in the Big 12 Conference team leader categories in both hitting percentage (.295) and blocks (3.37/game). They are averaging a .295 attack percentage and 3.37 blocks per game. Sophomore outside hitter Lisa Morris is the team's leading hitter with 3.88 kills per game, while junior middle blocker Krista Johnson owns a team-best .377 hitting clip.
Texas has dominated Oklahoma 16-0 in the all-time series. The closest the Sooners have come to upsetting the Longhorns was last year in Austin when OU forced a fifth game before losing, 15-3, 7-15, 15-11, 7-15 and 13-15.
The Sooners own a 32-14 all-time edge over the Tigers, but the series has been closer in recent years. The two teams have split the season series the last two years. Both years, the teams have claimed sweeps on their home courts and battled to five games on the opponent's floor.
When OU and UT meet on Wednesday, high school teammates Jessica Barney (Oklahoma) and Whitney Garvens (Texas) will square off for the first time as collegians. Barney and Garvens, both New Braunfels, Texas, natives, played with each other at New Braunfels High School.
The Missouri match will feature a rarity among the collegiate volleyball circuit. Both teams have husband and wife coaching combinations. Oklahoma has two husband and wife coaching combinations in Head Coach Kalani Mahi and his wife, Assistant Coach Christy Mahi, and assistant coaches Joel and Andrea McCartney. Missouri is led by Head Coach Susan Kreklow, who is assisted by her husband Wayne Kreklow.
Among the League Leaders
As of October 9, several Sooners continue to remain among the Big 12 Conference's individual leaders in several categories.
Hitting Percentage - 11th (.342)
Kills - Fifth (4.60)
Assists - Ninth (11.66)
Service Aces - 11th (0.32)
Service Aces - Fourth (0.40)
Service Aces - Second (0.55)
Doubling Up On Double-Doubles
Senior middle blocker Holly McMillan registered her third double-double performance of the season in the Sooners' 3-2 victory over Iowa State. The Livermore, Calif., native landed a season-high 20 kills and 11 digs. McMillan scored her other two double-double efforts against Lamar and New Mexico State at the beginning of the year.
This season, McMillan has the opportunity to surpass her career double-double total of four, including three during the 1999 season and one in 1998.
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. 9, averaging 1.84 aces per game. The Sooners trail first place Texas Tech by only .22 aces per game.
Individually, Oklahoma has three players ranked among the conference's top 11 individuals in aces per game, led by sophomore Jessica Barney (second - 0.55), senior Carolyn Kittell (11th - 0.32) and senior Holly McMillan (fourth - 0.40). Barney leads all Sooners with eight multiple-ace performances, including tying a career-high five aces against Iowa State.
*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 12 of the 14 matches.
*Middle blocker Holly McMillan recorded her team-leading third double-double performance of the year against Iowa State. The senior landed a season-high 20 kills and 11 digs in the contest.
*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.