Below is the second release in a 10 part series previewing the 2003 Oklahoma volleyball team. This release highlights the four transfers that joined the program with the beginning of training camp on Aug. 8. Check SoonerSports.com on Tuesday for a release featuring the highly touted freshman class.
The 2003 Oklahoma volleyball team is full of new faces, 10 to be exact. OU head coach Kalani Mahi put together a mix of prep standouts and experienced transfers, for what is not only the biggest newcomer class of his Oklahoma career, but the most talented.
With six of the newcomers fresh out of high school, Mahi and the volleyball staff knew some experienced transfers would be vital to soften the learning curve facing the rookies.
The first commitment came during the late signing period when 6-4, outside hitter Keri Coats joined the Sooner fold. Coats spent her first two collegiate seasons at the College of Southern Idaho, where the Golden Eagles have won seven of the last nine junior college national championships. Southern Idaho compiled a 79-8 (91 percent) record during her time on the outside for the juco powerhouse. She'll begin her Oklahoma career as a left side hitter, where she will provide a big block and powerful arm against the best in the Big 12.
Keri may be the most physical and intimidating player I've had at Oklahoma, said Mahi. She'll provide a huge obstacle to everyone in the Big 12.
Mahi has long stressed the importance of recruiting within Oklahoma and getting the best native athletes to play collegiate ball at OU. In the case of Daphne Leach, it took a year but she is now a Sooner. Leach played at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith last season and helped the Lady Lions to a 54-5 record. She was third on the team with 289 kills and tops in blocks with 89.
Sooner fans will love this home grown athlete who can flat out pound the ball, said Mahi.
Stephanie Tengram didn't have to look far when deciding on where to continue her collegiate career after two years at Kansas' Pittsburg State. Tengram, who will compete for the starting spot at libero, led the Gorillas with 3.57 digs per game, an average that would have ranked third in the Big 12 in 2002.
Heading into spring practices the setting position was still a major question mark for 2003. Mahi knew that highly touted, freshman recruit Anna Monsen could run the offense but she needed a mentor to ease the transition. The staff's concerns were alleviated when Kelly McCarter decided to finish her collegiate career at OU after four seasons (one redshirt) at the University of Arkansas. McCarter was a Fab 40 setter out of high school and adds veteran experience that she fine-tuned in the rugged Southeastern Conference.
Kelly is one our best decision makers, said Mahi. She has the ideal height (6-0), skills and leadership qualities to excel in the Big 12.