The Weekly Slate
Iowa State Cyclones
Wednesday, Oct. 8
Howard McCasland Field House L, 3-1
Saturday, Oct. 11
Howard McCasland Field House 7 p.m.
The Oklahoma volleyball team continues conference action with Kansas on Saturday night. First serve with the Kansas Jayhawks is set for 7 p.m. at the Howard McCasland Field House. Kansas, who is fresh off a near upset of No. 7 Nebraska, is 11-6 overall and 3-3 in conference play.
Kansas is 12-5 on the season and 3-3 in the Big 12. The Jayhawks claimed their first conference road victory of the season with a 3-1 victory at Texas Tech on Oct. 4. OU leads the all-time series with Kansas 37-19 but has only defeated the Jayhawks once in the last 10 meetings.
Kansas was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 preseason poll and has defeated Colorado (3-0) and Baylor (3-2) at home. Kansas was swept in three at Kansas State, same as OU, while also losing in five at Missouri.
Kansas is led by a pair of Brazilians. Sophomore and 2002 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year Josie Lima is one of the most offensively dominant middles in the conference. Lima averages 2.56 kills per game and is hitting .310 on the season. Janaina Correa is the star in the making on the outside. The freshman leads KU with 3.88 kills per game and 2.64 digs per game.
In their Wednesday match with Nebraska, KU had four attackers in double-figures. Leading the way was Correa and Sarah Rome, who each registered 14 put aways. Lima and Ashley Michaels turned in 13 and 12 kills, respectively. Setter Andi Rozum approached a triple-double with 55 assists, seven kills and nine digs.
As For The Sooners
The Sooners were upset by Iowa State on Wednesday night and suffered a couple significant losses. OU dominated the first game against the Cyclones and won 30-22 only to drop the final three games by score of 30-20, 30-19, 30-23. The loss snaps OU's three match winning streak against the Cyclones and dropped OU to 1-5 in conference.
Freshman Joanna Schmitt led the Sooners offense on Wednesday with 22 kills, one away from an OU rally scoring record, and 10 digs. After registering four errors in the first game, Schmitt settled down and only recorded six errors in the final three games. Fellow frosh Rachel Jackson turned in her seventh double-double (44 assists, 13 digs) of the season, which ranks second on the OU squad behind Schmitt (8).
In OU's first five conference matches, the Sooners faced the top four picks in the Big 12 preseason poll. After their three game loss to No. 7 Nebraska on Saturday, the Sooners look forward to matches with four squads picked in the bottom half of the conference preseason poll. OU's homestand continues with Iowa State (preseason No. 11) and Kansas (No. 6) on Oct. 8 and Oct. 11, respectively. A home match with Texas A&M (No. 4) is sandwhiched by road visits to Colorado (No. 7) and Texas Tech (No. 9).
The most accurate predictor of OU's success is the number of attacks right side hitter Keri Coats gets. When OU's ball control is sound, Coats gets the ball and OU's hitting efficiency jumps. Coats, known for her consistency, had the first off night of her Sooner career. Coats recorded six kills, which were offset by eight errors and a negative hitting percentage. Coats' role on the squad will become even more vital if the knee injury to Laura Tomes keeps her out of the lineup for an extended period of time.
OU head coach Kalani Mahi has moved senior Christina Maynes back to outside hitter, after playing 11 matches at defensive specialist. Maynes teamed with Schmitt to shut down Baylor in the final two games on Oct. 1. Maynes recorded seven kills and seven digs against Nebraska.
Senior Kelly McCarter, who was one of the few bright spots against Kansas State, has been held out of the last three matches due to a nagging back injury.
Junior-transfer Stephanie Tengram turned in the best match of her Sooner career against the Cyclone. Tengram, who has taken over at defensive specialist in the last three matches, had 11 digs, topping her previous-high of six recorded at Baylor.
Before going down with a knee injury, Tomes was on pace for one of her trademark high hitting percentage matches. She had eight kills, one error and was hitting .368.
Assaulting the Record Book
Joanna Schmitt leads OU offensively with 4.27 KPG and is the team's best passer at 2.67 DPG. In 18 career matches she has led OU in total attacks 17 times, kills 15 times and digs five times. She is on pace to break a number of records. She is just 60 kills away from the OU rally scoring kills record of 342 held by Logan Pierce (2001). Schmitt is on pace to record 501 kills this season, a mark that would be the sixth best single-season total in OU volleyball history, regardless of scoring system. The favorite target of OU's setters is on pace to take 1,379 swing this year, a mark that would rank fifth in OU history. At her current pace Schmitt will easily record 400 plus kills and will narrowly top 300 digs. Only six players in OU history have turned in 400 kills and 300 digs in a single season. Her projected digs total of 312 is another OU rally scoring record and would place her just outside the top 10 on OU all-time list. Schmitt is only seven kills away from surpassing 2002 leader Megan O'Connell (289) and already ranks fifth on the OU career rally scoring kills list.
- With 14 matches remaining the Sooners have 167 total blocks, which is 10 away from the 177 total blocks they posted last season. At their current pace, OU would record 296 total blocks this season.
- OU has won three consecutive matches against Baylor for the first time since 1996-97, when they swept both season series. The Sooners lead the all-time series 18-11.
- OU had won three consecutive matches against Iowa State before losing on Wednesday night. OU still leads the all-time series 38-13, which includes victories in 17 of the last 21 meetings.
- OU's three match win streak against Baylor is its longest current streak against any Big 12 opponent.
- OU hit above. 200 eight times last season. The Sooners have hit above .200 nine times this season and in nine of the last 15 contests, including against Baylor when they hit .218. The performance at Baylor was OU's highest percentage in a conference match since facing Kansas on Oct. 22 last season. OU is 7-2 in those contests this season.
The biggest surprise of the season for OU is the emergence of walk-on freshman Rachel Jackson. She leads OU with 8.69 assists per game and has broken the five game assists record three times. Jackson broke the record for the third time with 56 at Baylor, Oct. 1. The freshman from Texas set the previous marks against East Carolina (52) and Morehead State (54). 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.
Rookie Of The Year
The Big 12 schedule is just a six matches old but the season is past the half way point and freshman outside hitter Joanna Schmitt is an early favorite for Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Schmitt leads all freshman in kills per game (4.27) and digs per game (2.67). The freshman from Wisconsin's main competition would be Janaina Correa of Kansas. Correa, like sophomore Josie Lima last season, is only egilble for the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year award do to international transfer rules. Correa is hitting .254 with averages of 3.88 kills and 2.64 digs per game. The match up between the two left side rookies will be the main attraction at Saturday night's tilt inside the McCasland Field House.
Tomes Out With Knee Injury
In what is a crushing blow to OU's frontline, freshman middle hitter Laura Tomes is out indefinetely with an undisclosed knee injury. Tomes, who was a Fab 50 prepster, leads OU with a .291 hitting percentage and is third on the squad with a kills per game average of 2.39.
The Sooners continue to be one of the best in the Big 12 in blocking. OU averages 2.49 blocks per game and has four individuals averaging 0.75 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 (1.21) is sixth in the Big 12 in blocks per game, while freshman Laura Tomes is seventh (1.15). Keri Coats and Kelly McCarter average 0.79 and 0.78 blocks per game, respectively. Adams, Tomes and Coats are all in line to break the single season OU rally scoring block assist mark of 78 held by Candice Woods.
Many Signs Of Improvement
OU is projected to easily top all of its numbers from last season. OU's 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 13.46. At their current pace, the Sooners would record 430 more kills this year than last (1603 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 career rally scoring block assists record. Adams has 131 career block assists (78 this season) and is 15 away from the career record of Candice Woods (146).
In The O Zone
Sooner fans can catch eight of the ten home matches this season on SoonerSports.com's O Zone. Fans can also see live video when the Sooners travel to Colorado and Nebraska this season.
Maynes Tops Career Lists
OU senior Christina Maynes moved into first place on the OU career rally scoring digs list with 15 digs in a double-double effort at Baylor. She passed 2002 graduate Denise Griffin who had 461 and stands alone at the top with 480. Maynes took over sole possession on the OU career rally scoring kills list after recording 15 kills during Cougar Challenge play. She stands in first place on the kills list with 481.
Get Her The Ball
Freshman aren't supposed to be consistent, Laura Tomes is. Prior to the match at Baylor when she hit .190 on 21 swings, Tomes was hitting .337 (88-27-181) when she got set 21 times. 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 .291 hitting percentage. Despite her efficient numbers, Tomes is fourth on the OU squad with 364 total attacks. Tomes was averaging just 16.3 attempts per match prior to the match at Baylor, when she had 12 swings. 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
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 18 matches this season and has at least five block assists in nine matches. In 44 games last season Adams had four solo blocks and 53 block assists. She surpassed her 2002 block assists total during the non-conference season and leads the Sooners with 78 helpers. Her blocks per game average, now at 1.21, improved in each of the preconference tournaments and has her ranked at No. 6 in the Big 12. When Tomes and Adams collect at least five blocks assists apiece, the Sooners are undefeated this season (5-0).
Tough Out Of The Gates
The Sooners completed the toughest portion of their conference scedule with a 1-4 record. The mark is less than stellar but the competition won't get any tougher. OU faced Big 12 preseason No. 1 Nebraska, No. 2 Texas, No. 3 Kansas State and No. 4 Missouri during its first five matches.