Part five in the 10-part series previewing the 2003 Oklahoma volleyball team focuses on the outside hitters. Check back to SoonerSports.com in the coming days for previews of the middle hitter and libero positions.
With all the attention focused on the newcomers, senior and two-year starter Christina Maynes (formerly Barlow) has been in the background. Maynes is a certainty for OU and will be at outside hitter attacking the Big 12 like she's done for three years in Norman. Maynes had a productive spring, which included a marriage to Sooner wrestling standout Bo Maynes, and will be looked upon for leadership on and off the court in 2003.
All 6-4 of Keri Coats and her vast reach will be positioned on the right side, where her main goal will be shutting down the Big 12's best hitters.
"Coats is similar to (2002 senior) Megan O'Connell," said Mahi. "Both are physical and intimidating. Coats will puts up a bigger block and is physically stronger on offense than Megan was."
The competition between Sheena Werling, Joanna Schmitt and Daphne Leach figures to last through camp as the trio battles for the majority of time remaining on the outside. Leading the pack with fall workouts around the corner is Werling, who is coming off a good freshman campaign and better spring.
"Sheena stood out during spring workouts," said Mahi. "Sheena's biggest difficulty last season was consistency. We broke down her approach and she made some significant improvements."
Schmitt was a recruit OU snuck under the radar during the fall signing period. She is no longer an unknown after a spring club season that created a buzz around the Big 12.
Mahi summed up Leach, an Owasso native, best.
"Oklahoma fans will love this home grown athlete who can flat out pound the ball," said OU's head coach.
Freshmen Kelli Albers and Connie Davis will provide depth to a position OU is not accustomed to having numerous options. Both are talented, but may need some transition time before hitting the collegiate court.