The Weekly Slate
At Texas Tech
Wednesday, Oct. 22
United Spirit Arena, Lubbock, Texas 7 p.m.
The Oklahoma volleyball team continues Big 12 play with a match at Texas Tech, Wednesday. First serve is set for 7 p.m., from the United Spirit Arena on the Tech campus. Tech (8-10 overall) is the only team without a win in conference (0-9) and has lost 10 consecutive matches since beginning the season with eight straight wins.
Tech is led by Big 12 kills leader Kelly Johnson, who averages well over five kills per game (5.63). Johnson has tallied 366 kills this season, which is second in the Big 12 behind Baylor’s Tisha Schwartz. Johnson and her rubber arm have taken twice as many swings (919) as anyone else on the Lady Raider roster.
Oklahoma has not had much success against the Lady Raiders in recent history. Tech has come out on the winning side in 10 consecutive meetings with OU and has not surrendered a single game to the Sooners during that stretch. Tech leads the all-time series 31-11.
OU has the weekend off with its second conference bye of the season. The Sooners return to friendly territory and the Howard McCasland Field House on Oct. 29 for a match with Baylor. OU defeated Baylor in five games for its lone conference victory this season.
As For The Sooners
OU head coach Kalani Mahi acknowledged that his team had been mentally battling the loss of starters Laura Tomes and Jennifer Adams. Mahi was encouraged to see his team fight against No. 22 Texas A&M and be on the verge of a major upset.
It appears that the reshuffled Sooner lineup is finding some continuity on the court. The results showed against A&M. Keri Coats, who has moved to middle blocker had six kills and just one error in her second match at the position. Senior co-captain Kelly McCarter was stellar in her return to the lineup with four kills on six swings and 17 assists. McCarter and Coats, were two of three Sooners (Christina Maynes was the third) that hit above .200 on the match. OU hit above .200 for the third time in conference and the 11th time this season.
Left siders Joanna Schmitt and Maynes teamed up to record 31 kills, 15 digs and three aces against the Aggies. Schmitt recorded her team-leading ninth double-double of the season and collected 15 plus kills for the 15th time this season.
Filling In, Stepping Up
OU head coach Kalani Mahi acknowledged at the beginning of the season that this team was the deepest he’d ever had at OU. Mahi did point to middle blocker as one area the Sooners could not afford any major injuries.
With the loss of Tomes for the season and Adams for an extended period of time, OU has shifted Coats and sophomore Jennifer Mosso into the middle.
Coats, who hasn’t played middle since high school, has been exceptional in the last two matches. Coats is averaging 2.5 kills per game while hitting .393 and collecting 0.83 blocks per game since the change. Coats’ offensive numbers at middle blocker top Tomes’ season averages.
Mosso’s numbers haven’t surpassed the output of Adams who she replaced at ME, but they’ve been solid. She is averaging 0.66 kills and blocks per game.
Sophomore Sheena Werling has hit the ground running since replacing Coats at right side hitter. Werling is averaging 2.66 kills per game and hitting .250 since the move.
Coach Mahi has moved senior Christina Maynes back to outside hitter, after playing 11 matches at defensive specialist. In six contests since returning to the outside, Maynes has averaged 10.7 kills per match.
Record Turn Out
The Oklahoma volleyball team enjoyed a crowd of 3,162 for their match against No. 22 Texas A&M. The crowd spurned the Sooners on as they battled the Aggies tooth and nail. OU has never had a crowd larger than 2,000 turn out for a match. The crowd is guaranteed to be one of the top 10 crowd in the NCAA for the last week.
Adams Out For A Month
Sophomore Jennifer Adams, No. 3 in the Big 12 in blocks per game, is expected to be sidelined at least a month with a severely sprained right ankle. The good news is that Adams did not break any bones and has already begun rehab. Adams rolled her ankle early in the second game against Kansas on Oct. 11.
Rookie Of The Year
The Big 12 schedule is just eight matches old but the season is past the half way point and freshman outside hitter Joanna Schmitt is a favorite for Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Schmitt leads all freshman in kills per game (4.29) and digs per game (2.61). She is ranked No. 4 in the Big 12 in kills per game and is second since the beginning of conference play.
- With 11 matches remaining the Sooners have 187 total blocks, which is seven more than OU recorded in 2002. At their current pace, OU would record 284 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 Oct. 8. 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, 11 times this season and in 11 of the last 18 contests, including against Kansas (.205) and No. 22 Texas A&M (.214). OU has hit above .200 three times since the beginning of conference play. OU is 7-4 when it hits above .200 and 1-2 when they reach the mark in conference this season.
The biggest surprise of the season for OU is the emergence of walk-on freshman Rachel Jackson. She leads OU with 8.59 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.
Assaulting The Record Book
Joanna Schmitt leads OU offensively with 4.29 KPG and is the team’s best passer at 2.61 DPG. In 21 career matches she has led OU in total attacks 20 times, kills 18 times and digs seven times. She is on pace to break a number of records. She is just 20 kills away from the OU rally scoring kills record of 342 held by Logan Pierce (2001). Schmitt is on pace to record 490 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 1,356 swings this year, a mark that would rank fifth in OU history. At her current pace Schmitt will easily top 400 kills and will approach 300 digs. Only six players in OU history have turned in 400 kills and 300 digs in a single season, while only five Sooners have ever recorded a 500-300 season. Her projected digs total of 298 is another OU rally scoring record and would place her just outside the top 10 on OU’s all-time list. Schmitt only needed 19 matches to pass 2002 kills leader Megan O’Connell (289) and is already fourth on the OU rally scoring career kills list.
Maynes Hits 500-500 Mark
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 (10/1). She passed 2002 graduate Denise Griffin who had 461 and stands alone at the top with 507. Maynes took over sole possession on the OU career rally scoring kills list after recording 15 kills during Cougar Challenge play. With 15 kills against Texas A&M (10/17) she upped her rally scoring career total to 512. She is the only Sooner to in rally scoring history (since 2001) to reach 500 either category.
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 13.51. At their current pace, the Sooners would record 397 more kills this year than last year (1564 to 1167).
Tomes Out With Knee Injury
In what is a crushing blow to OU’s frontline, freshman middle hitter Laura Tomes is out for the season with a torn ACL in her right knee. Tomes, who was a Fab 50 prepster, led OU with a .291 hitting percentage and is third on the squad with a kills per game average of 2.39. She also ranked No. 6 in the Big 12 with 1.15 blocks per game before sustaining the injury. Tomes tore the ACL in her right knee in high school.