The most crucial position for the Sooners in 2003 is in the middle where OU head coach Mahi currently has just three players penciled in.
"The big question will be if we have injuries at middle blocker, which player, from which position, will we pull from if we have to compensate," said Mahi.
Sophomores Jennifer Adams and Jennifer Mosso are Big 12 tested but have been bitten by the injury bug numerous times.
"Jennifer's improvement during spring was a highlight," said Mahi. "She improved her blocking technique and corrected her arm swing. I give her a lot of credit because she had to adjust the natural way she had always hit."
Mosso, who was the leading blocker on the 2002 team, reinjured her ankle during the summer and hopes a quick rehab is in store.
Much of the spotlight will fall on incoming freshman Laura Tomes' shoulders. Tomes is the most highly touted recruit of the Mahi tenure and could step into a starting role at middle hitter immediately. Her 6-2 frame and exceptional leaping ability - she can slam dunk a volleyball - should ease the expectations.
"Laura has a lot of club and high school experience and we hope she'll make a good transition to the college game," said Mahi. "We know she has exceptional size, speed and jumping ability."
Plan 'B' for the coaching staff is to slide junior-transfer Keri Coats over from the left side to the middle where she played extensively during her junior college career.