Volleyball Looks To Rebound Against No. 9 Kansas State

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
SEPTEMBER 25, 2003

The Weekly Slate

Texas (Home Opener)
Wednesday, Sept. 24  
McCasland Field House L, 3-0

at Kansas State
Saturday, Sept. 27

Ahearn Field House 7 p.m.

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The Lowdown
The road weary Oklahoma volleyball team opened the home schedule with a disappointing three game loss to Texas on Wednesday night.  OU led by six points in the first two games and three in final game but couldn't hold off late Texas rallies.  The loss drops the Sooners to 0-2 in the Big 12 and 8-6 overall.  OU looks to rebound against No. 9 Kansas State in Manhattan on Saturday.

OU head coach Kalani Mahi asked his underclasmen to come out aggressive against Texas and they did.  Leading the onslaught was freshman Joanna Schmitt with 15 kills and seven digs.  Schmitt has averaged 5.35 kills per game over last four matches and has stood pat at No. 5 in the Big 12 in kills (4.25).  Junior-transfer Keri Coats tied a Sooner career-high with 12 kills, while swinging at a .375 clip.

Schmitt and Laura Tomes both top conference only statistical categories.  Schmitt is tops in kills per game at 5.33, while Tomes is tops in hitting percentage with a .433 percentage.  The duo are the only players in the conference above five kills per game and .400 hitting percentage.

No. 9 Kansas State was the hottest team in the conference before falling to Baylor in four games Wednesday night.  The Wildcats had won 12 straight matches and 19 consecutive games.  K-State began the season in Hawaii where they dropped back-to-back matches to No. 2 Hawaii and No. 3 Florida.  Since the opening tournament, the Cats had rolled past all 12 of their opponents and only dropped three single games until they came up against Baylor. 

The Wildcats hit .198 against the Bears, just the third time this season they have hit below the mendoza line and the third time a loss has accompanied the low hitting mark.  Kansas State, which is known for its defensive prowess, was outdug by Baylor 82-59.

Powering the Wildcat attack is middle blocker Lauren Goehring who is hitting .454 and averaging 3.54 kills per game.  KSU is hitting .268, which leads the Big 12 and has three players hitting above .300.  Setter Gabby Guerre is averaging 12.04 assists per game and hitting .354.  Junior Lisa Martin is hitting .315, while averaging 2.50 kills per game.

The Wildcats run a defensive system that forces opponents into mistakes.  KSU plays sound defense and doesn't take risks, which is the reason they are second in hitting percentage and fifth in kills per game in the Big 12.

As for the Sooners
The Sooners got off to a disappointing start in the Big 12 with back-to-back losses to Missouri and Texas.

Standout performances were turned in by Joanna Schmitt, Laura Tomes, Sheena Werling and Rachel Jackson at Missouri.  Schmitt had 17 kills, giving her a weekly average of 5.71 kills per game.  On the down side Schmitt's streak of three consecutive double-doubles was snapped at Missouri.

On the other hand, Jackson extended her double-double streak to three matches with a 22 assist and 10 dig performance in Columbia.  Werling hit at a career high .346 clip and hammered home 12 kills, while Tomes tallied 13 kills while hitting .611. 

Tomes now owns four of the top seven hitting percentage outings for OU since the inception of the current scoring system.  Her performance at Missouri jumped her season hitting percentage up from .296 prior to .317 after.  Tomes team leading hitting percentage now rests at .310.

The freshman trio of Schmitt, Tomes and Jackson are quickly becoming the team leaders.  Schmitt leads OU with 4.25 kills and 2.76 digs per game.  Tomes tops the Sooner squad with a .310 hitting percentage and is second with 1.17 blocks per game.  Despite sharing time with senior Kelly McCarter, Jackson is leading the Sooners with 8.50 assist per game, while she's third in digs per game (2.22) and hitting at .357 when she attacks.

OU's success this season has come when they are able to get the ball to Tomes and junior-transfer Keri Coats .  Of the regulars, Tomes (.310) and Coats (.251) have the two highest hitting percentages on the squad.  In OU's five losses this season the duo has only taken 29 percent of the team's total attacks.  While Schmitt and sophomore Sheena Werling, the left side attackers, have taken 56 percent of the swings in the losses.  In OU's victories Tomes and Coats have taken 31 percent of the swings and the left side attackers have taken 53 percent.  The numbers aren't drastic, except when consider that OU has lost 18 games and 13 of those losses have come by five points or less.

The emergence of Jackson as the quarterback of OU's offense continues to produce positive results. The Sooners are 6-3 when the rookie plays the majority of the game.  That is not to say that senior Kelly McCarter's influence hasn't been felt.  When the Sooners run a modified 5-1 system, with Jackson setting from the back and McCarter setting in the front row, the Sooners are 6-2 and were undefeated until the loss at Missouri.

The Sooners continue to be one of the best in the Big 12 in blocking.  OU averages 2.69 blocks per game and has four individuals averaging 0.8 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.

Quick Hits
-  OU was just the fourth team to defeat Oral Roberts at home in the last 95 contests.

-  OU had not defeated Oral Roberts, which has won six consecutive Mid Contiental Conference titles and reached the NCAA tournament each of those years, since 1994, a span of four matches.

- OU has lost seven consecutive matches to Missouri but still owns an all-time series advantage of 32-20.

-  OU hit above. 200 eight times last season.  The Sooners have hit above .200 eight times this season and in eight of last nine matches, including against Missouri when they hit. 273, their highest percentage in a loss all season.  OU is 6-2 in those contests.
-  OU's six match winning streak, which was snapped by Morehead State, was the longest of the Mahi era and the best since 1996 when the Sooners ran off nine consecutive wins.

 - OU has never defeated Texas, who now holds a 23-0 all-time series advantage. 

-  With 20 matches remaining the Sooners have 140 total blocks, which is 37 away from the 177 total blocks they posted last season.  At their current pace, OU would record 332 total blocks 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 8.50 assists per game and  broke the five game assists record twice.   Jackson tallied 52 assists in a five game defeat of East Carolina, then turned around and set up 54 assists in a loss to Morehead State.  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.

Movin' On Up
The Oklahoma volleyball team announced that its match with No. 7 Nebraska on Oct. 4 has been moved up to 2 p.m., from the originally announced time of 7 p.m.

Get Her The Ball
Freshman aren't supposed to be consistent, Laura Tomes is. When she records at least 21 attacks this season she is hitting .337 (88-27-181), 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 .310 hitting percentage.  Despite her efficient numbers, Tomes is fourth on the OU squad with 290 total attacks.  The ball has been coming her way more lately though. 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

Giving It A Werl
Sophomore Sheena Werling has been one of the most talented players on OU's squad during her three years (redshirted as freshman) in Norman. This year the talent is producing results after a summer spent on the sand volleyball court.  Werling has hit above .200 in five of the last  seven matches, including a career-high .346 performance against Missouri.  In 2002 she hit above .200 in four matches, only twice when she saw significant playing time.  Werling is second on the squad with a 3.02 kills per game average and average 3.52 kills a game and 14.8 kills a match going into the Texas 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 14 matches this season and has at least five block assists in nine matches.  In 44 games last season Adams had four solo blocks and 26 block assists.  She surpassed her 2002 block assists total in six matches this season (28) and leads the Sooners with 67 assists this season.  Her blocks per game average, now at 1.35, 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).

Smooth Transition
Senior Christina Maynes has made a smooth transition to defensive specialist for OU.  Maynes, who has spent the majority of the her time at outside hitter during her Sooner career is fifth on OU's squad with 1.91 digs per game.

Most Valuable Player
Joanna Schmitt's impact on the OU volleyball team this season cannot be underestimated.  Schmitt leads OU offensively with 4.25 KPG and is the team's best passer at 2.76 DPG.  In 14 career matches she has led OU in total attacks 13 times, kills 11 times and digs five times.  She garnered MVP honors in the Chattanooga Invitational and was all-tournament in the Cougar Challenge.  Joanna Schmitt (496) is on pace to obliterate the OU rally scoring single season kills record of Logan Pierce (342). Schmitt is only 72 kills away from surpassing 2002 leader Megan O'Connell (289) and already ranks seventh on the OU rally scoring kills list.  Her projected season total is more than the current career kills leader Christina Maynes (441).

Maynes Tops Kills List
OU senior Christina Maynes took over sole possession on the OU career rally scoring list after recording 15 kills in the Cougar Challenge.  She stands in first place on the kills list with 441. Maynes is also in second place on the career digs list with 447 and trails leader Denise Griffin who had 461 in her career.

Upon Further Review
The Oklahoma volleyball team was awarded the Liberty University Invitational Championship on Thursday, Sept. 18, after it was announced upon the tournaments conclusion that Morehead State had won the title.  The tourney title was the second of the season for OU and the third during Mahi's tenure.

Tough Out Of The Gates
The Sooners have perhaps their most difficult stretch of the season at the begining of the Big 12 schedule.  OU lost to Missouri which was picked fourth in the Big 12 preseason poll in their conference opener and faces the top three picks in the next four matches.  OU opens the home season with preseason No. 2 Texas, then travels to preseason No. 3 Kansas State before facing No. 8 Baylor in Waco and finally hosting three-time defending Big 12 Champion Nebraska.

Sooners In Spikes
The OU volleyball team is packed with athletes who excel at track and field.  Leading the bunch is freshman Anna Monsen who is the first athlete in Wisconsin state history to win the 100 meter dash all four years of high school.  Sophomore Sheena Werling is a member of the Sooner track team and competes in high jump during the indoor season.  Freshman middle hitter Laura Tomes was a two time Iowa state high jump champion and one-time state runner up in the long jump.  Joanna Schmitt qualified for state finals in the long jump, hurdles and sprints.





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