Sooner Volleyball Travels To Kansas

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
OCTOBER 16, 2000

Oct. 16, 2000

Sooners Travel To Kansas
Oklahoma (6-11, 1-8 Big 12) will look to capitalize on its promising performance following the Missouri match when they travel to Lawrence, Kan., to take on the Kansas Jayhawks (11-7, 2-7 Big 12) this week. The match is slated to begin at 7 p.m. in the Horejsi Family Athletics Center on Wednesday, Oct. 18.

The Sooners will then enjoy a rare weekend off as no matches are scheduled for the remainder of the week.

The volleyball team lost a close fought battle, 15-11, 15-8 and 15-12, to 24th-ranked Missouri Saturday night at the OU Field House. The Tigers (16-2, 7-2 Big 12) largest lead of the match was only seven as the Sooners (6-11, 1-8 Big 12) hung tight with the Big 12 Conference's second place team. Seniors Cathy Cook and Maria Holmgren paced OU offensively landing 14 and 13 kills, respectively.

The Sooners posed threats to the Tigers from the beginning of the match. After sophomore Elizabeth Newman served three-consecutive points for Oklahoma to tie game one at three all, OU took a brief lead at 4-3 when Missouri middle blocker Ashlee Johns was charged with an attack error. The Sooners forced two more ties in the game, at 4-4 and 8-8, before the Tigers pulled away with four-straight points late in the game. Missouri did not hold a lead of more than four in game one as they went on to win 15-11. Cook and freshman outside hitter Logan Pierce led the Sooners in the game with four kills a piece as OU hit for a team match-best .382 attack percentage.

OU once again caused problems for Missouri in game two as the teams battled through four more ties. Cook again led the team in kills for the game landing six in nine attempts without an error. Two-straight kills by Cook tied the game at seven before the Tigers went on another late 4-0 spurt to put the game away.

Down 7-4 in the final game, Oklahoma climbed back into the game on a kill by Holmgren and two block assists by senior Holly McMillan and sophomore Lindsay Hoyt. From the 7-7 tie, both teams fought back and forth through four more ties. With the Tigers clinging to a 14-11 advantage, the Sooners fought off four match points by Missouri before the Tigers finally closed out the match at 15-12.

Defensively for the Sooners, Newman led the club with a match-high 12 digs and McMillan assisted in a match-high four blocks. Seven of nine Oklahoma players notched kills in the match.

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 11 of its last 12 contests. Cook continues to lead the offense with a team-best 4.59 kills per game and .337 hitting percentage. As of Oct. 13, Oklahoma ranked third in the league in service aces per game with a 1.79 average, with three players ranked among the conference's top 15 individuals in the category.

Scouting Kansas
The Jayhawks have been encountering recent troubles of their own. KU is currently struggling through a five-match losing streak, inlcuding a recent 3-1 loss at Missouri last week. Despite the losses, Kansas has forced a fifth game in three of the five contests.

The Jayhawks sport one of the Big 12 Conference's top hitting teams and one of the league's best attackers. As of Oct. 13, Kansas ranked third in the conference in hitting percentage and fourth in kills per game. Leading the way for the Jayhawks is the league's second best attacker in senior outside hitter Amy Myatt who is averaging 4.91 kills per game.

The Series
Oklahoma owns a 36-15 all-time edge over Kansas, however, the Jayhawks are winners of four-straight over the last two years. Prior to the streak, the Sooners had won 11 of the last 15 contests. In 1999, KU swept the season series with a 3-1 win in Norman and a 3-2 victory in Lawrence.

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 11 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 16, several Sooners continue to remain among the Big 12 Conference's individual leaders in several categories.

Cathy Cook
Hitting Percentage - 11th (.337)
Kills - Fifth (4.59)

Carolyn Kittell
Assists - Ninth (11.62)
Service Aces - 12th (0.32)

Holly McMillan
Service Aces - Fifth (0.39)

Jessica Barney
Service Aces - Second (0.51)

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. 16, averaging 1.80 aces per game. The Sooners trail first place Texas Tech by only .17 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 - 0.51), senior Carolyn Kittell (12th - 0.32) and senior Holly McMillan (fifth - 0.39). Barney leads all Sooners with eight multiple-ace performances, including tying a career-high five aces against Iowa State.

Quickie Notes
*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 17 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.



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