Sept. 18, 2000
Sooners Open Home Schedule, Face Top-Ranked Opponents
After playing their first nine games of the 2000 season on the road, the Sooners (5-4, 0-1 Big 12) are ready to open their home schedule against the 19th-ranked Texas A&M Aggies (5-3, 1-1 Big 12). The match is slated for Wednesday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. in the OU Field House. Oklahoma will then travel to Lincoln, Neb., on Saturday to face their second-straight top 25 opponent when they take on No. 1 Nebraska (9-0, 2-0 Big 12). The Sooners and the Huskers square off at 7 p.m. in Nebraska Coliseum. Oklahoma is scheduled to face four current top 25 teams over the next three weeks, including three of their next five opponents. In addition to Texas A&M and Nebraska, OU will play at No. 24 Baylor on Saturday, Sept. 30, and host No. 22 Kansas State on Saturday, October 7.
Last Time Out
Oklahoma's offensive attack struggled to score against Colorado as the volleyball team fell, 3-0 (15-8, 15-12 and 15-5), in their Big 12 Conference opener Saturday night at the Coors Events/Conference Center in Boulder, Colo. The Buffaloes' 12 team blocks aided in limiting the Sooners to a .163 hitting percentage and 28 errors throughout the contest. Senior outside hitter Maria Holmgren and senior middle blocker Cathy Cook both posted double-digit kill performances for OU with 12 and 11, respectively. Oklahoma senior middle blocker Holly McMillan registered the team's leading hitting percentage at .385 after landing seven kills in 13 attempts with only two errors. Senior setter Carolyn Kittell tied a season-high with seven kills, while sophomore outside hitter Lindsay Hoyt added nine kills. Earlier in the week, the Sooners were unable to score a victory against Arkansas losing 3-0 to the Lady Razorbacks at Barnhill Arena on Tuesday. The two teams played to extra points in the first game before Arkansas went on to win 16-14, 15-9 and 15-11. Cook paced the Sooners with a season-high 25 kills, while the Lady 'Backs' middle attack hurt OU with four players scoring double-digit kills. Arkansas controlled the ball most of the second game and capitalized on nine Oklahoma errors. Hoyt recorded four kills in six attempts during game two to help supply the offensive effort for the Sooners. OU and UA battled through five ties during game three before Arkansas pulled away by capturing five of the final six points to claim the game and win the match. Both teams struggled offensively during the final game as Oklahoma posted a .154 hitting percentage and Arkansas averaged .194.
Scouting Texas A&M
The 19th-ranked Aggies (5-3, 1-1 Big 12) are coming off their first Big 12 Conference win of the season. Texas A&M defeated Kansas in three games (15-8, 15-13 and 15-9) over the weekend after being upset 3-0 (15-12, 15-8 and 15-8) at Missouri. Senior middle blocker Heather Marshall provides the offensive threat for the Aggies by leading the team in total kills (97), kills per game (3.59) and hitting percentage (.374). Marshall also leads the squad defensively with 1.41 blocks per game.
The No. 1 Cornhuskers (9-0, 2-0 Big 12) travel to Lawrence, Kan., on Wednesday to take on the Kansas Jayhawks in search of their 10th-straight victory before hosting the Sooners. Four of Nebraska's nine wins have come against top 25 opponents (Colorado State - No. 13, Notre Dame - No. 22, Michigan State - No. 16 and UCLA - No. 3). The Huskers' have dropped only three games over the nine-match stretch. The Huskers' boast eight players that are hitting for a .300 attack percentage or better, topped by freshman outside hitter/middle blocker Laura Pilakowski who is averaging 4.14 kills per game and a .381 hitting percentage.
The Sooners have encountered problems against both the Aggies and the Huskers over the years. Oklahoma has won only once (in 1979) in 21 matches all-time against Texas A&M, while Nebraska owns a commanding 51-6 lead on the Sooners. OU's last win against NU was a three-game sweep of the Huskers in Norman in 1997. The Sooners have won only once on the Huskers' home court back in 1987 when OU emerged with a 3-1 win.
Sooners In Home Openers
Oklahoma is 13-9 over the last 22 years in home openers, including a win last year in OU's first match of the adidas Sooner Invitational against Arkansas-Little Rock in the Field House. Dating back to 1982, the Sooners hold a 11-7 record in conference home openers, however, OU has only one Big 12 Conference win in four opportunities. Oklahoma's lone Big 12 home opener win came against Kansas (3-0) in 1997.
What A Difference A Year Makes
Senior middle blocker Holly McMillan has significantly improved her game over the last year. In comparison of the first nine games of the 2000 and 1999 seasons, McMillan is averaging over a full kill per game and 82 points higher in hitting percentage this season. The Livermore, Calif., native has also received 71 more attempts this season. McMillan has already registered five matches in which she has posted a hitting percentage of .300 or better, including equalling her career-best .500 attack percentage against Colgate.
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.