GREELEY, Colo. -- The University of Oklahoma volleyball team opened the 2012 Hampton Inn & Suites Northern Colorado Classic with a 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-13) sweep of Air Force Friday afternoon at the Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion to remain perfect on the year and start the season with a 4-0 record for the third consecutive year.
In a three-set matchup that saw OU tally four separate scoring rallies of five or more points, Senior libero Maria Fernanda surpassed her own eighth-place standing in the Big 12 record book after she recorded a team-high 16 digs against Air Force to claim 1,719 digs to her name.
The total bumps her to seventh all-time in the Big 12, as she remains the lone active player in the conference to rank in the top-10 of Big 12 career leaders in eight separate categories. Fernanda needs just 36 more digs, a feasible number for the school record-holder, throughout the rest of the tournament to take sole possession of the sixth-place spot in the conference.
The performance marked the 74th time in 99 matches played that Fernanda has led the Sooners in digs, including each match on the season.
Junior outside hitter Keila Rodriguez led all hitters with 10 kills, hitting .233 and attributed a team-high 14.0 points and two service aces to lead the Sooners past the Falcons in three. Julia Doyle, who has led Oklahoma in assists each match on the year, hit a remarkable .800 with kills from four of her five attempts, while also contributing eight digs and 34 of OU's 39 assists.
Oklahoma hit .296 on the afternoon, a season-best performance, thanks to Doyle's setting throughout the opening match.
The Sooners registered 15 kills in the opening set to hit .396 with four errors on 34 swings. Senior outside hitter Morgan Reynolds contributed five kills, while Rodriguez added four. Fernanda went on a long service run in the opening stanza which saw the Sooners collect its first-of-four five-plus scoring runs, and a 7-2 advantage it wouldn't relinquish until the Sooners claimed the first set victory, 25-17.
Another early scoring run in set two helped Oklahoma jump out with the lead, as junior defensive specialist Eden Williams rattled off four straight serves - which led to OU points - to help put her team up 7-2. The Sooners continued to roll with a comfortable lead until late in the second stanza when a pair of kills by the Falcons' Felicia Clement nudged Air Force within two points of Oklahoma at 24-22. An attack error by Rodirguez put the Sooners' second set at risk at 24-23, until Doyle registered her third kill of the afternoon for set point to send Oklahoma into the third set unscathed at 2-0.
Once again, OU began the set with a scoring run that saw them grab a 5-1 lead they would keep until the halfway marker when Air Force totaled 10 points to OU's 11. Despite the narrow lead, the Sooners bounced back with five straight points, once again behind Williams' serves, to give them the 15-10 advantage to close out the final stanza. With the help of defensive specialist Mindy Gowen behind the line for the serve, and three kills from Rodriguez, OU closed-out the match at 25-13 off a 7-0 scoring run.
Oklahoma returns to action tonight, as they'll face host, Northern Colorado (2-1), in their home-opening contest at Butler-Hancock Sports Pavilion. First serve is set for 8 p.m. CT. Sooner fans can stream the match online here, or access live-game stats by following this link.
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