Huskers Await Sooner Spikers

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
OCTOBER 31, 2003

The Weekly Slate

Wednesday, Oct. 29 
Howard McCasland Field House       W, 3-2

At Nebraska
Saturday, Nov. 1
Nebraska Coliseum, Lincoln, Neb. 7 p.m.

The Lowdown
With momentum in hand the Oklahoma volleyball team travels to Lincoln, Neb., for a Saturday match against No. 11 Nebraska.  First serve is set for 7 p.m. at the Nebraska Coliseum.  OU fans with access to the O-Zone on can watch the match live.

Since the Sooners last faced Nebraska on Oct. 4 (3-0 loss), the Huskers have had a couple of the nation’s most impressive streaks snapped.  NU had won 77 consecutive Big 12 matches before falling in five sets at home against Kansas State.  The Huskers dropped back-to-back home matches for the first time since 1997, when they fell to Missouri the next time out. 

Since the two match skid the Huskers have picked on teams in the bottom half of the Big 12 standings.  NU enters the weekend match with three consecutive wins over Iowa State, Baylor and Texas Tech.

On Wednesday night it took Nebraska four games to dispense Texas Tech in Lubbock.  Tech had not taken a game from the Huskers since 2000, a feat the Sooners have not accomplished since 1997, which was also the last time OU defeated NU.

Nebraska is led on both ends of the court by Jennifer Saleaumua, who leads the team in kills (3.04) and digs (3.86).  Saleaumua is second in the Big 12 in digs per game. Fellow sophomore Melissa Elmer leads the Big 12 in blocks per game with a 1.61 average, which is the fourth best average in the NCAA.
As for the Sooners
It feels good to win but the Sooner don’t have much time to enjoy the fruits of their success with the daunting task of playing No. 11 Nebraska at home up next.  OU picked up its fourth consecutive win against Baylor after going the distance with the Bears for the second straight time Wednesday night.

The offense was led by sophomore Sheena Werling, who tallied 19 kills while hitting .405.  Werling turned in an exceptional all-around performance with two aces, eight digs and a career-best five block assists.  Werling continues to excel out of position, as she fills in at right side hitter for the depleted Sooners.

Senior Christina Maynes notched her second double-double of the season with an 18 kill, 16 dig performance.  Fellow left sider Joanna Schmitt turned in her 10th double-double of the season with 24 kills and 13 digs.

Keri Coats continue her smooth transition to middle blocker with nine kills, two aces, four digs and four block assists.  Coats hit at a .350 clip and had just two errors on the night.

Setters Rachel Jackson and Kelly McCarter led OU to a rally scoring team record 69 assists.  Jackson turned in 45 assists, while McCarter had 19 helpers.

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 since switching positions to middle blocker.  Coats is averaging 2.14 kills per game while hitting .300 and collecting 1.14 blocks per game since the change (four matches).  All of Coats’ stats since the switch are near or better than Laura Tomes’ season averages.

Sophomore Sheena Werling has hit the ground running since replacing Coats at right side hitter.  Werling is averaging 3.21 kills per game and hitting .330 since the move.  The three match hot streak has upped her season hitting percentage from .173 to .199. 

Coach Mahi has moved senior Christina Maynes back to outside hitter, after playing 11 matches at defensive specialist.  In eight contests since returning to the outside, Maynes has averaged 11.3 kills per match.

The team numbers haven’t fallen off drastically since the lineup change either.  Below is a comparison of the season numbers before Adams and Tomes went down and the team totals since:

                      Before           After
KPG              13.49              14.36
Hitting %    .188                 .207
APG             1.59                 1.43
DPG             13.53                11.43
BPG             2.49                   2.36

Schmitt Breaks Kills Record
If her freshman year is any indication, Joanna Schmitt will leave her mark all over the Oklahoma record books before she’s done.  Early in the second game against Baylor, Schmitt notched her eighth kill of the match and broke the rally scoring  single season record of 342 kills held by Logan Pierce.   Schmitt has 360 kills on the season and is on pace to record 501 kills this season.

Adams Nearing Return
Sophomore Jennifer Adams, sidelined since Oct. 11, is making significant strides in her rehab from a sprained ankle.  Adams could return to OU lineup in the next two weeks.

Quick Hits
-  With 10 matches remaining the Sooners have  207 total blocks, which already tops the 180 posted by the Sooners in 2002.  At their current pace, OU would record 288 total blocks this season.
-   OU has won four consecutive matches against Baylor for the first time since 1996-97, when they swept both season series.  The Sooners lead the all-time series 19-11.

-    OU’s four 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, 12 times this season and in 12 of the last 20 contests, including both matches with Baylor.  OU has hit above .200 four times since the beginning of conference play. OU is 8-4 when it hits above .200 and 2-2 when they reach the mark in conference this season.
Walk-On Starter
The biggest surprise of the season for OU is the emergence of walk-on freshman Rachel Jackson.  She leads OU with 8.57 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.

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 ranked in the top-10 for the week and was the 46th best turnout in the NCAA this season.



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