Sept. 25, 2000
Oklahoma Seeks First Conference Victory
The Sooner volleyball team (5-6, 0-3 Big 12) will look to rebound this week after two-consecutive losses to No. 23 Texas A&M and No. 1 Nebraska last week. The squad returns home for its second home match of the 2000 season when it takes on Iowa State (2-9, 0-4 Big 12) on Wednesday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m. Both teams will be in search of their first conference victory of the year.
Oklahoma then hits the road again for a conference match at Baylor. The Bears (7-5, 1-3 Big 12) host the Sooners on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 7 p.m. at the Ferrell Center.
Last Time Out
Facing their second top 25 team in as many matches, the Oklahoma volleyball program suffered it's sixth-straight loss to top-ranked Nebraska Saturday night. The Huskers defeated the Sooners in a three-game sweep, 15-5, 15-4, 15-3, in front of 4,175 at the Nebraska Coliseum. Despite having six of 10 players landing kills in the match, the Sooners as a team registered their lowest hitting percentage of the season at -.011. The Cornhuskers used a balanced scoring attack during the match as seven players recorded kills, led by senior outside hitter Kim Behrends with seven. Outside hitters Lindsay Hoyt and Maria Holmgren were the most consistent attackers for the Oklahoma offense throughout the match. Holmgren posted a .222 hitting percentage to lead the team and recorded a match-high eight kills, while Hoyt turned in a .111 attack percentage.
The team struggled to contain No. 23 Texas A&M's explosive hitting attack Wednesday night as the Sooners lost, 3-0 (15-4, 15-7 and 15-9), to the Aggies in their Big 12 Conference home opener at the OU Field House. Six Aggies registered above a .300 attack percentage for the match, while Oklahoma averaged a .115 hitting percentage. Individually, Cathy Cook and Holmgren landed double-digit kills with 18 and 10, respectively, to lead the Sooners. The two seniors combined to post over half of the team's kill total. Oklahoma held brief leads in games two and three before Texas A&M responded with several late spurts to put the Sooners away. Sophomore Jessica Barney continued her hot serving performance during the match with three aces, giving her seven multiple-ace performances on the year. Fellow sophomore Elizabeth Newman equalled a season-high with 11 digs to pace OU defensively.
Scouting Iowa State
The Iowa State Cyclones (2-9, 0-4 Big 12) have suffered four-consecutive losses. ISU's last win came against Wichita State on September 9, in a five-game thriller. All of the Cyclones' conference losses have been 3-0 decisions. The team lost 15-7, 15-6 and 15-11 to Kansas in it's most recent match last weekend.
As a team, ISU is averaging 10.44 kills per game and .107 in hitting percentage. The squad's top player is senior middle blocker Stacy Nicks who is leading the team in total kills (97), hitting percentage (.211) and blocks per game (1.28).
Losers of their last three matches, Baylor will look to end their losing streak on Wednesday night against Kansas before facing Oklahoma. After falling in five games at No. 23 Texas A&M, the Bears lost their second-consecutive five game loss to Missouri on Saturday in Columbia, Mo. The three-straight losses marks the first time since the 1998 season that the Bears have suffered such a feat.
The Bears are averaging 18.12 kills per game and a .270 hitting percentage. Two freshmen are leading the way for Baylor statistically. Middle blocker Amy Wallace leads the squard with a .340 attack percentage and 0.90 blocks per game average, while outside hitter Stevie Nicholas is leading the team, and the Big 12 Conference, in kills per game with 5.83.
Oklahoma holds a 33-11 series lead over Iowa State, including a solid 7-1 margin since both teams joined the Big 12 Conference. The Sooners are winners of four-straight in Ames, dating back to 1996. OU swept ISU in three games (15-3, 15-5 and 15-12) in Norman a year ago.
However, the series between Oklahoma and Baylor is much closer. Although the Sooners own a 15-7 all-time edge, the Bears have begun to narrow the margin in recent years. Baylor has won three of the last four contests against OU, including both match ups in 1999. The last time Oklahoma won in Waco was in 1997 when the Sooners stole a 3-1 victory on the Bears' home court.
Serving Up A Storm
The 2000 squad has kept up the excellence in the serving game that has come to be expected out of the Oklahoma volleyball team. After ending the 1999 season ranked third overall in the Big 12 Conference and second in the league standings in service aces per game, this year's team is currently in second place overall with a 2.00 aces per game average. The Sooners trail first place Texas Tech by only .33 aces per game.
Individually, Oklahoma has three players ranked among the conference's top 10 individuals in the category, led by sophomore Jessica Barney (second - 0.58), senior Carolyn Kittell (seventh - 0.42) and senior Holly McMillan (ninth - 0.36). Barney leads all Sooners with seven multiple-ace performances, including registering four aces in a game twice.
Head Coach Kalani Mahi
Kalani Mahi embarks on his first year at the helm of the Oklahoma volleyball program this season. Already this season, Mahi has led the Sooners to a tournament title at the Lamar Cardinal Classic and OU's first 5-0 start in the program's 27-year history.
Prior to arriving in Norman, Mahi, a native of Kaneohe, Hawaii, served as the top assistant coach at Illinois State, where he assisted the Redbirds to two-consecutive second place finishes in the Missouri Valley Conference and an NCAA at-large bid in 1998. Before assisting at Illinois State, Mahi served as the head coach at Bradley University from 1995-1997, guiding the Braves to three consecutive Missouri Valley Conference Championship Tournament appearances, a first in school history. He joined the Braves' coaching staff as an assistant in 1992, and was elevated to the head position in 1995.