Momentum In Hand, Volleyball Heads To Tulsa

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
SEPTEMBER 15, 2003

The Weekly Slate

At Oral Roberts
Tues., Sept. 16 7 p.m.

At Missouri (Big 12 Opener)
Sat., Sept. 20 7 p.m.

The Lowdown
Oklahoma volleyball faces regional-rival Oral Roberts in its final tune-up for the Big 12 season which begins at Missouri Sat., Sept. 20.

Oral Roberts is 4-7 this season after posting a 22-11 record in 2002 and being knocked out of the NCAA Tournament in the first round by Washington State.  The Golden Eagles lost eight letterwinners from last year's squad and only returned two starters this season.  ORU has won the last four meetings with OU dating back to 1995.  The last time OU knocked off ORU was in 1994 and the Sooners trail in the all-time series 26-17.

ORU has fallen prey to a number of mid-major teams under first year head coach Sheera Sirola.  The Golden Eagles have lost to Arkansas-Little Rock, Utah State, Weber State, Wichita State and UC Irvine. 

The Sooners can derive quite a bit of information from ORU's three game loss to Wichita State (Sept. 12), who the Sooners lost to 3-1 in the season-opening Cougar Challenge.  In the match ORU struggled mightily on offense hitting just -.008 with 44 unforced errors.  The Shockers dominated the Golden Eagles, who couldn't muster more than 21 points  in any game.  The Golden Eagles have also been swept by Kansas this season.

Missouri, which was ranked No. 23 in last week's AVCA poll, ran off five consecutive wins to begin the season before dropping two straight against Ohio and Utah.  The Tigers snapped their two match losing steak with sweeps of Bradley and Marquette to close the Marquette Classic.  Mary Lauren Smith and Shen Danru were named to the all-tournament team.

Missouri runs a 5-1 system with sophomore Lindsay Hunter at setter.  Hunter averages 12.07 assist per game and dishes the ball off to Smith (3.76 kpg) and Danru (3.97 kpg).  The Tigers have six freshmen on their squad and rookies Jessica Vander Kooi (OH) and Nicole Wilson (MB) are in the regular rotation.

OU has dropped six consecutive meetings with Mizzou.  In their most recent meeting, OU took one game from the No. 21 ranked Tigers in Norman last season.  OU leads the all-time series 32-20.

The rest of the Big 12 opens the conference season Wednesday, while OU does not begin until their weekend showdown with the Tigers.  Mizzou faces Baylor in Waco, Wednesday at 7 p.m.

As for the Sooners
Prospects are bright for the Sooners with the Big 12 season just around the corner.   OU has won seven of its last eight matches and is 7-4 on the season, the best 11 match total of OU head coach Kalani Mahi's tenure.

The freshman trio of Joanna Schmitt, Laura Tomes and Rachel Jackson are quickly becoming the team leaders.  Schmitt leads OU with 3.95 kills per game and  2.73 digs per game.  Tomes tops the Sooner squad with a .316 hitting percentage and is second with 1.21 blocks per game.  Despite sharing time with senior Kelly McCarter, Jackson is leading the Sooners with 8.87 assist per game, ranking third in digs per game (2.21) and second in hitting percentage (.333).

OU's success this season has come when they are able to get the ball to Tomes and junior-transfer Keri Coats .  Of the regulars, Tomes (.316) and Coats (.248) have the two highest hitting percentages on the squad.  In OU's four losses this season the duo has only taken 29 percent of the team's total attacks.  While Schmitt and sophomore Sheena Werling, the left side attackers, have taken 56 percent of the swings in the losses.  In OU's victories Tomes and Coats have taken 31 percent of the swings and the left side attackers have taken 52 percent.  The numbers aren't drastic, except when consider that OU has lost 12 games and in nine of those the Sooners have lost by five or less points.

The emergence of Jackson as the quarterback of OU's offense continues to produce positive results. The Sooners are 6-2 when the rookie plays the majority of the game.  That is not to say that senior Kelly McCarter's influence hasn't been felt.  When the Sooners run a modified 5-1 system, with Jackson setting from the back and McCarter setting in the front row, the Sooners are undefeated (5-0).

The Sooners continue to be one of the best in the Big 12 in blocking.  OU averages 2.79 blocks per game and has four individuals averaging 0.8 blocks per game or better. Most of OU's opponents in the last two tournaments have been forced out of their offensive system because of OU's dominance at the net. 

Across The Board
The Sooners have show gradual improvement as the nonconference season has progressed.  From the Cougar Challenge to the Chattanooga Invitational the numbers in every major category increased.  After the Liberty University Invitational  the numbers were up in a few key areas. The Sooners improved their hitting percentage and blocks per game last weekend.  Below is a comparison of the three tournaments, bolded categories signify an improvement in each tournament:

Tournament By Tournament Statistics




Kills Per Game




Hitting %




Assists Per Game 




Aces Per Game




Digs Per Game




Blocks Per Game




Quick Hits
-  OU is 6-0 in first time meetings this season.  The Sooners have played ever school remaining on their schedule a minimum of 22 times.

-  OU is 9-8 in preconference tournaments (2-4 last season) the last two seasons.

-  OU hit above. 200 eight times last season.  The Sooner have hit above .200 seven times this season and in seven of the last eight matches.  OU is 6-1 in those contests.
-  OU's six match winning streak, which was snapped by Morehead State, was the longest of the Mahi era and the best since 1996 when the Sooners ran off nine consecutive wins.

-  OU hit .364 in the Liberty University Invitational, which was just the second time OU has hit .300 as a team under the current rally scoring system.

-  With 21 matches remaining the Sooners have 117 total blocks this year, which is 60 away from the 177 total blocks they posted last season.  At their current pace, OU would record 340 total bl

Walk On Starter
The biggest surprise of the season for OU is the emergence of walk-on freshman Rachel Jackson.  She leads OU with 8.87 assists per game and  broke the five game assists record in two consecutive matches last weekend.  Jackson tallied 52 assists in a five game defeat of East Carolina, then turned around and set up 54 assists in a loss to Morehead State.  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.  In her debut Jackson tallied 18 assists off the bench, including 12 in game two against San Francisco (Aug. 30).

Most Valuable Player
Joanna Schmitt's impact on OU volleyball team this season cannot be underestimated.  Schmitt leads OU offensively with 4.95 KPG and is the team's best passer at 2.73 DPG.  In 11 career matches she has led OU in total attacks 10 times, kills eight times and digs five times.  She garnered MVP honors in the Chattanooga Invitational and was all-tournament in the Cougar Challenge.  Joanna Schmitt is on pace to obliterate the OU rally scoring single season kills record of Logan Pierce. 

Get Her The Ball
Freshman aren't supposed to be consistent, Laura Tomes is. When she records at least 21 attacks this season she is hitting .374 (78-20-155), when she gets set 25 plus times she is hitting .369 (55-14-111).  Her consistency has landed her atop the OU squad with a .316 hitting percentage on the season.  Despite her efficient numbers, Tomes is tied for fourth on the OU squad with 234 total attacks.  The ball has been coming her way more lately though. In the season opening Cougar Challenge she averaged 17.6 attacks per match, since she has averaged 25.8.  Tomes owns three of the top six 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.

Smooth Transition
Senior Christina Maynes has made a smooth transition to defensive specialist for OU.  Ironically, it was originally her passing that kept her out of the lineup at outside hitter.  She has averaged 2.59 digs per game since switching positions and is third on the team with a 2.11 season average.

Resurgent Sophomore
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 10 of 11 matches this season and has at least five block assists in eight matches.  In 44 games last season Adams had four solo blocks and 26 block assists.  She surpassed her 2002 block assists total in six matches this season (28) and leads the Sooners with 56 assists this season.  Her blocks per game average, now at 1.40, improved in each of the preconference tournaments.

Maynes Tops Kill List
OU senior Christina Maynes took over sole possession on the OU career rally scoring list after recording 15 digs in the Cougar Challenge.  She stands in first place on the kills list with 441.

Twice The Debut
Joanna Schmitt's double-double (10 kills, 18 digs) was the best debut performance of any Sooner during the Kalani Mahi era.  Schmitt's only competition was from Logan Pierce who put up 12 kills and 11 digs in the 2000 season-opener against New Mexico State.

Sooners In Spikes
The OU volleyball team is packed with athletes who excel at track and field.  Leading the bunch is freshman Anna Monsen who is the first athlete in Wisconsin state history to win the 100 meter dash all four years of high school.  Sophomore Sheena Werling is a member of the Sooner track team and competes in high jump during the indoor season.  Freshman middle hitter Laura Tomes was a two time Iowa state high jump champion and one-time state runner up in the long jump.  Joanna Schmitt qualified for state finals in the long jump, hurdles and sprints.

OU Head Coach Kalani Mahi
Oklahoma Head Coach Kalani Mahi is in his fourth year at the helm of an accomplished Sooner volleyball program and hopes are high for success in the very near future. Mahi returns five starters and adds nine newcomers in 2003. The coaching staff is coming off its best recruiting class and what they think may be the best in OU history

Coach Mahi is assisted by his wife, Christy Mahi and Josh Ivans.  All three have ties to their alma mater, Graceland College, where each got their start in volleyball at the collegiate level. 

No stranger to success on the court, Mahi headed up successful programs at both Bradley (1995-97 as head coach & 92-94 as assistant) and Illinois State (1998-99).  He has also played competitively indoor and outdoor and has been a part of teams that have finished fifth and seventh in the USA Volleyball Open National Indoor Championships.

Record Breaking
A number of OU rally scoring records have been broken this season, below is a listing of the rally scoring records set this season:

Three Games

New Record

Opponent, Date
Hitting Percentage

   .364 (37-9-77)     

vs. Elon 9/12/03*
Four Games


@ Liberty 9/13/03* 
Hitting Percentage

.289 (73-27-159)

@ Liberty 9/13/03
Block Assists


vs. Lipscomb 9/6/03*
Five Games



Hitting Percentage

.256 (63-23-156)

vs. ECU 9/12/02

Block Assists


vs. East Carolina 9/12/03*

Total Blocks 


vs. East Carolina 9/12/03*


vs. Morehead State 9/13/03*

Three Games

Three Games


   New Record       Opponent, Date  



vs. Drake 9/5/03

Hitting Percentage



vs. ULM 9/6/03



vs. ULM 9/6/03
Four Games
Block Assists 



vs. Lipscomb 9/6/03# 
Five Games



vs. Morehead St. 9/13/03 



vs. Morehead St. 9/13/03
Block Assists



vs. Morehead St. 9/13/03

* indicates that the total is a single match best.
# indicates the record is shared.

Oklahoma Season Statistics






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