Aug. 30, 2000

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Sooners Open at Cardinal Classic The volleyball team will begin the 2000 season with nine-straight road matches beginning with the Cardinal Classic in Beaumont, Texas, this weekend. The tournament field includes host school Lamar, Louisiana-Lafayette, New Mexico State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. OU opens tournament play with two matches on Friday, Sept. 1. The Sooners will face the New Mexico State Aggies in the opening match of the tournament at 11:30 a.m. and will follow later in the day with a 4:30 p.m. match-up against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns. The squad will close out tournament play on Saturday against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 11:30 a.m. and Lamar at 7 p.m.

Mahi Debut Friday's season-opening match against New Mexico State will mark the Oklahoma coaching debut of head coach Kalani Mahi. Mahi took control of the program in February after former head coach Miles Pabst retired after 22 years of service at the helm of Sooner volleyball. The position serves as the second head coaching stint for Mahi who was the head coach at Bradley University from 1995-1997. The Kaneohe, Hawaii, native guided the Braves to three consecutive Missouri Valley Conference Tournament appearances while at Bradley, a feat that had not been accomplished in school history. Mahi most recently filled the role of first assistant for the last two years under the highly regarded head coach Julie Morgan at Illinois State. Joining Mahi in his OU debut will be newly hired assistant coaches Joel McCartney, Christy Mahi and Andrea McCartney.

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.

PROJECTED STARTERS

Pos.No.NameHt.Cl.1999 Stats
S23Carolyn Kittell5-8Sr.1249 assists, 11.46 apg, 2.17 dpg
OH4Lindsay Hoyt5-11So.Transfered from Illinois State.
OH12Logan Pierce6-1Fr.Did not compete.
MB3Maria Holmgren6-1Sr.164 kills, 2.08 kpg, 0.65 dpg
MB13Cathy Cook6-2Sr.311 kills, 2.85 kpg, .358 pct.
MB9Holly McMillan6-2Sr.101 kills, 1.42 kpg, 1.20 dpg
Reserves
S1Jessica Barney5-8So.Transfered from Arkansas State.
OH6Karli Maughan5-11Fr.Did not compete.
OH7Christina Barlow5-10Fr.Did not compete.
MB8 Alexia McWhinney5-10Fr.Did not compete.
DS11Elizabeth Newman5-8So.113 digs, 1.23 dpg
DS5Maxine Zubiaga5-9Sr.165 digs, 1.57 dpg

More Conference Preseason Pub As a team, the Sooners are picked to finish 10th, while Nebraska is the preseason favorite to win the league title. Nebraska received nine of the possible 11 first-place votes. The polling was based on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 system with a first-place vote receiving 10 points. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team. Texas A&M setter Jenna Moscovic and Nebraska setter Greichaly Cepero are the preseason co-Players of the Year. Selected as co-Newcomers of the Year are Colorado's Sara Frederickson and Texas' Katia Lara and Nebraska's Anna Schrad is the preseason pick for Freshman of the Year in a vote by league head coaches.

Looking For 500 Heading into this weekend's matches at the Cardinal Classic in Beaumont, Texas, the Sooners will be looking to reach another milestone in program history. Sitting on an all-time record of 499-463-7, OU's next win will mark the 500th win in Oklahoma volleyball history.

Senior Leadership OU opens the 2000 season with a strong group of five seniors, headlined by 1999 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and 2000 Preseason All-Big 12 candidate Cathy Cook. All five seniors, including three returning starters, are expected to play integral roles in this season's success as each of the five contribute ample experience after each participated in over 65 percent of the games played last year. Carolyn Kittell is one of the more veteran seniors after controlling the offense the last two years as the team's starting setter. Holly McMillan is the team's only four-year letterwinner, while Maria Holgren and Maxine Zubiaga have served in valuable support roles the last two years.

2000 Recruits After being hired back in February, head coach Kalani Mahi wasted no time in acquiring a talented group of young players to comprise his first recruiting class at Oklahoma. Mahi signed four high school players to national letters of intent back in May and later completed the class with the addition of two Division I transfers. The class' four prep players each enjoyed successful high school careers. Christina Barlow was a three-time all-conference and two-time All-State selection at Christian Heritage Academy in Choctaw, Okla. Karli Maughan was named to the All-State first team in Colorado following her senior campaign at Eaglecrest High School in Aurora, Colo. Logan Pierce, a native of Durango, Colo., became the state of Colorado's first female to ever be named to three-consecutive All-State first teams (1997-2000). Alexia McWhinney left Katy, Texas' Cypress Springs High School as the school's all-time kills and block solo record holder. Over the summer, Coach Mahi finished off the OU roster with the additions of Jessica Barney from Arkansas State and Lindsay Hoyt from Illinois State. Barney earned Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year honors after dishing out 1,457 assists and averaging 12.14 assists per game as the starting setter for ASU last year. Hoyt played under Mahi at Illinois State in 1999 and saw limited action in her first season of collegiate volleyball.

Assessing the Lamar Tournament Field

Lamar: Lamar opens the new millennium hosting the Cardinal Classic. The Lady Cardinals appear in good shape to secure their fifth-straight winning season as the squad returns four starters. The team finished 17-15 overall in 1999 and placed sixth in the Southland Conference with a 11-9 league record. Included among the notable returners is outside hitter Natalie Sarver who led the Lady Cardinals in kills and digs last year as a freshman. Sarver garnered third team All-Southland Conference honors for her efforts.

Louisiana-Lafayette: In 1999, ULL head coach Chris Campbell led the Ragin' Cajuns to a 15-18 overall record and sixth place finish in the Sun Belt Conference during his first season. After beginning the year 6-12, the Cajuns came on strong winning nine of their last 16 matches to close out the season. ULL returns five letterwinners, four of them starters, on which to build this season. The team's top returning starter is junior outside hitter Janaina Gomes who finished her 1999 campaign second on the team in total kills and kills per game.

New Mexico State: The Aggies open the 2000 season, and the tournament, against the Sooners in the first match of the tournament. New Mexico State returns three starters, each of whom averaged over a kill per game last season, from a team that went 15-15 overall and 6-10 in the Big West Conference. Junior outside hitter Angela Lobendahn headlines the trio as she averaged 2.25 kpg and 1.28 dpg in 1999.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: The Islander athletic department opens a new chapter in history as the volleyball program kicks off it's inaugural year at the Cardinal Classic. The squad includes a breakdown of one senior, four juniors, two sophomores, seven freshmen and a combined nine years of collegiate or junior college playing experience.

The Series Although both New Mexico State and Lamar own significant edges over Oklahoma in the series' history, OU has not competed against either school in the last 15 years. OU dropped its only two matches to NMSU in 1979, losing 1-2 in the first match and 0-3 in a second match of the Texas Tech Tournament in Lubbock, Texas. Lamar holds a 4-1 series lead on OU, winning its last match 3-2 over the Sooners in OU's opening match of the Southwest Missouri State Tournament in Springfield, Mo., in 1985. The Sooners will take on Louisiana-Lafayette and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for the first time in program history.

A Closer Look at the Returners

#3 Maria Holmgren (6-1, Sr., OH, Trelleborg, Sweden) - Expected to start at one of the outside hitter positions ... Finished 1999 ranked fifth on the team in total kills and kills per game ... Has great range as an attacker ... One of five seniors on the team.

#5 Maxine Zubiaga (5-9, Sr., DS, Carrollton, Texas) - Will serve as the starting defensive specialist in certain rotations ... Served as the starting defensive specialist in 1999 ... Ranked second on the team in digs last season ... Primarily a ball-control player ... Will have the opportunity to compete and challenge at the outside hitter positions ... One of five seniors on the team.

#9 Holly McMillan (6-2, Sr., MB, Livermore, Calif.) - Expected to start at one of the middle blocker positions ... Led the team in blocks seven times last year ... A dynamic and explosive attacker ... One of five seniors on the team.

#11 Elizabeth Newman (5-8, So., DS, Tulsa, Okla.) - Saw limited action as a freshman as a setter and defensive specialist ... A very solid player in defense, serving and passing ... Expected to play a more vital role on the team in her second season.

#13 Cathy Cook (6-2, Sr., MB, Irvine, Calif.) - Named as the 1999 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year after an outstanding junior campaign ... Also selected to the All-Big 12 honorable mention team ... Ranked 29th in the country and third in the conference in hitting percentage ... The team's top returning hitter ... One of five seniors on the team.

#23 Carolyn Kittell (5-7, Sr., S, Laguna Beach, Calif.) - Will serve as the team's starting setter for the third-consecutive year ... Finished 1999 eighth overall and Big 12 Conference matches in assists per game ... Holds sole posession of fourth place on the school's career assists list ... One of five seniors on the team.