Volleyball Storm Brewing Wednesday Night

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
OCTOBER 07, 2003

The Weekly Slate

Iowa State Cyclones
Wednesday, Oct. 8  
Howard McCasland Field House 7 p.m.



Kansas Jayhawks
Saturday, Oct. 11 
Howard McCasland Field House 7 p.m.

The Lowdown
The Oklahoma volleyball team continues conference action with a pair of home matches this week.  Up first is Iowa State, who was picked to finish last in the Big 12 in the preseason poll and has gone 3-8 since starting the season 5-0.  The Cyclones and Sooners face off at 7 p.m., Wednesday in the Howard McCasland Field House.   On Saturday, Kansas visits the Field House with first serve slated for 7 p.m.

OU has won three consecutive matches against Iowa State, which is its longest current win streak against a Big 12 opponent.  The Sooners have also won three straight against Baylor.  OU has only lost to Iowa State five times since 1991, a span of 24 games.  OU leads the all-time series 38-12, with only three of those losses coming in Norman.

Outside hitter Brittany Dalager is one of two Cyclones averaging above three kills per game.  Dalager leads the Cyclones with a 3.47 average, fellow left side attacker Ranae Pruess is second with 3.31 kills per game. Senior setter Lindsey Chapman is eighth in the Big 12 in assists per game with an average of 10.63. 

Iowa State finished 2002 as the second best team conference team in digs (16.96) and blocks (2.5) per game.  In 2003 the Cyclones have fallen off slightly and rank  No. 6 in digs (15.19) and No. 8 in blocks (2.23).  Dalager was second in the Big 12 in digs per game last season with a  4.25 average and leads ISU this season with 3.28, which is 10th in the conference.
In ISU's five conference losses they have taken games from Colorado (in Boulder) and Baylor (in Ames).  In the Cyclones victory over Texas Tech (Oct. 1) they outplayed the Lady Raiders in every category.  The Cyclones have won four conference matches during head coach Linda Crum's four year tenure in Ames.

Kansas is 11-5 on the season and 3-2 in the Big 12.  The Jayhawks claimed their first conference road victory of the season with a 3-1 victory at Texas Tech on Saturday (Oct. 4).  OU leads the all-time series with Kansas 37-19 but has only defeated the Jayhawks once in the last 10 meetings. 

Kansas was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 preseason poll and has defeated Colorado (3-0) and Baylor (3-2) at home.  Kansas was swept in three at Kansas State, same as OU, while also losing in five at Missouri.  Kansas has No. 7 Nebraska at home on Wednesday before travelling to Norman.

As For The Sooners
After OU lost three consecutive matches to start the season in the Cougar Challenge, it responded by winning eight of the next nine.  After starting the conference season with three straight losses the Sooners rebound from a 2-1 deficit to defeat Baylor on its home court.  OU head coach Kalani Mahi hopes the trend holds true as the rugged Big 12 schedule lightens a bit.

In OU's first five conference matches, the Sooners faced the top four picks in the Big 12 preseason poll.  After their three game loss to No. 7 Nebraska on Saturday, the Sooners look forward to matches with four squads picked in the bottom half of the conference preseason poll.  OU's homestand continues with Iowa State (preseason No. 11) and Kansas (No. 6) on Oct. 8 and Oct. 11, respectively.  A home match with Texas A&M (No. 4) is sandwhiched by road visits to Colorado (No. 7) and Texas Tech (No. 9).

Three OU rally scoring records tumbled at Baylor, while one was tied.  Freshman Rachel Jackson broke her own five game assists record for the third time this season with 56 assists.  Sophomore Joanna Schmitt broke her five game and match kills records by posting 26.  Schmitt's previous best was 23, which she set against Morehead State.  Laura Tomes tied Jennifer Adams mark for block assists in a five game match with eight. Adams set the mark against East Carolina on Sept. 12.

The most accurate predictor of OU's success is the number of attacks right side hitter Keri Coats gets.  When OU's ball control is sound, Coats gets the ball and OU's hitting efficiency jumps. Coats is second on the team with a .235 hitting percentage and turned in the best performance of her Sooner career at Baylor.  She tallied career highs in kills (15), aces (4), block assists (7) and most importantly total attacks (41).  Against Nebraska, Coats had seven kills on 15 swings.

OU head coach Kalani Mahi has moved senior Christina Maynes back to outside hitter, after playing 11 matches at defensive specialist.  Maynes teamed with Schmitt to shut down Baylor in the final two games on Oct. 1.  Maynes recorded seven kills and seven digs against Nebraska.

Senior Kelly McCarter, who was one of the few bright spots against Kansas State, has been held out of the last two matches due to a nagging back injury. 

Rookie Of The Year
The Big 12 schedule is just a five matches old but the season is past the half way point and freshman outside hitter Joanna Schmitt is an early favorite for Big 12 Freshman of the Year.  Schmitt leads all freshman in  kills per game (4.19) and is tied for the lead in digs per game at 2.69.  The freshman from Wisconsin's main competition is  Janaina Correa of Kansas.  Correa is hitting .262 (compared to Schmitt's .152) and is tied with Schmitt for the digs lead (2.69), while Correa has a lower average in kills (3.90).

Quick Hits

-  With 17 matches remaining the Sooners have 160 total blocks, which is 17 away from the 177 total blocks they posted last season.  At their current pace, OU would record 301 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.

-  Nebraska owns a 57-7 all-time series lead over OU.  OU has only defeated Nebraska twice since 1989.  The Huskers have won 76 consecutive Big 12 matches and have not lost a conference match since Oct. 24, 1999.

-  OU's three match win streak against Baylor ties its longest current steak against any conference opponent. OU has also won three straight against Iowa State, who they face Wednesday.

-  OU hit above. 200 eight times last season.  The Sooners have hit above .200 nine times this season and in nine of the last 14 contests, including against Baylor when they hit .218.  The performance at Baylor was OU's highest percentage  in a conference match since facing Kansas on Oct. 22 last season.  OU is 7-2 in those contests 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 8.51 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.

Block Party
The Sooners continue to be one of the best in the Big 12 in blocking.  OU averages 2.54 blocks per game and has three individuals averaging 0.75 blocks per game or better. OU has recorded 15 or more total blocks on four occasions this season, that mark was never reached in 2002.  Sophomore Jennifer Adams (1.22) is third in the Big 12 in blocks per game, while freshman Laura Tomes is seventh (1.17).  Keri Coats and Kelly McCarter average 0.84 and 0.78 blocks per game, respectively.  Adams, Tomes and Coats are all in line to break the single season OU rally scoring block assist mark of 78 held by Candice Woods.

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 13.44.  At their current pace, the Sooners would record 430 more kills this year than last (1597 to 1167).

Chart Climber
While the block assists aren't coming as quickly as they did during the nonconference season, Jennifer Adams is still piling up blocks and quickly closing in on the OU career rally scoring block assists record.  Adams has 127 career block assists (74 this season) and is 13 away from the career record of Candice Woods (140).

In The O Zone
Sooner fans can catch eight of the ten home matches this season on SoonerSports.com's O Zone.  Fans can also see live video when the Sooners travel to Colorado and Nebraska this season.

Below is a complete schedule:
 Sept. 24-  Texas
 Oct. 4-  Nebraska
 Oct. 8-  Iowa State
 Oct. 11-  Kansas
 Oct. 29-  Baylor
 Nov. 5-  Texas Tech
 Nov. 19-   Kansas State
 Nov. 28-   Colorado

Most Valuable Player
Joanna Schmitt's impact on the OU volleyball team this season cannot be underestimated.  Schmitt leads OU offensively with 4.19 KPG and is the team's best passer at 2.68 DPG.  In 16 career matches she has led OU in total attacks 16 times, kills 14 times and digs five times.  She garnered MVP honors in the Chattanooga Invitational and was all-tournament in the Cougar Challenge.  Joanna Schmitt (489) is on pace to obliterate the OU rally scoring single season kills record of Logan Pierce (342). Schmitt (260) is only 29 kills away from surpassing 2002 leader Megan O'Connell (289) and already ranks seventh on the OU career rally scoring kills list.  Her projected season total is more than the current career kills leader Christina Maynes (473).

Maynes Top Career Lists
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. She passed 2002 graduate Denise Griffin who had 461 and stands alone at the top with 472.  Maynes  took over sole possession on the OU career rally scoring kills list after recording 15 kills during Cougar Challenge play.  She stands in first place on the kills list with 473.

Get Her The Ball
Freshman aren't supposed to be consistent, Laura Tomes is. Prior to the match at Baylor when she hit .190 on 21 swings, Tomes was hitting .337 (88-27-181) when she got set 21 times.   When she gets set 25 plus times she is hitting .321 (65-21-137).  Her consistency has landed her atop the OU squad with a .287 hitting percentage.  Despite her efficient numbers, Tomes is fourth on the OU squad with 330 total attacks.  Tomes was  averaging just 16.3 attempts per  match prior to the match at Baylor, when she had 12 swings.  Tomes owns four of the top seven hitting percentage single match performances in OU rally scoring history and is tied for the best ever outing thanks to a .619 (15-2-21) performance against Louisiana Monroe. Below is a list of the top seven single match hitting percentage efforts since the rally scoring system was implemented:

.619 Laura Tomes vs. UL- Monroe (9/6/03)*
.619  Megan O'Connell vs. UL-Monroe (9/14/02)*
.611  Laura Tomes at Missouri (9/20/03)*
.588  Candice Woods vs. Texas Tech (10/13/01)*
.562  Laura Tomes vs. Elon (9/12/02)*
.550  Christina Maynes vs. North Texas (8/31/01)#
.538  Laura Tomes at Liberty (9/13/03)#
#- set in four game match
*- set in three game match

Resurgent Sophomore
Sophomore Jennifer Adams figured to be the odd woman out at middle blocker when training camp began.  Jennifer Mosso had started at middle blocker during the entire Big 12 season in 2002 and appeared to be a lock at the position.  Adams earned the starting nod and won't be relinquishing it anytime soon.  The California native has at least five (BS+BA)  total blocks in 11 of 17 matches this season and has at least five block assists in nine matches.  In 44 games last season Adams had four solo blocks and 53 block assists.  She surpassed her 2002 block assists total during the non-conference season and leads the Sooners  with 74 helpers.  Her blocks per game average, now at 1.22, improved in each of the preconference tournaments and has her ranked at No. 3 in the Big 12.  When Tomes and Adams collect at least five blocks assists apiece, the Sooners are undefeated this season (5-0).

Tough Out Of The Gates
The Sooners completed the toughest portion of their conference scedule with a 1-4 record.  The mark is less than stellar but the competition won't get any tougher.  OU faced Big 12 preseason No. 1 Nebraska, No. 2 Texas, No. 3 Kansas State and No. 4 Missouri during its first five matches. 

The captains for the 2003 Sooner volleyball team are seniors Kelly McCarter and Yvette Villanueva, along with sophomore Sheena Werling.  The coaching staff took input from the team and based their decision upon that information.




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