Sooner Volleyball Heads Into Final Two Weeks Of The Season

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
NOVEMBER 13, 2000

Nov. 13, 2000

Sooners Battle Wildcats and Longhorns
Coming off two-consecutive home losses, Oklahoma looks to rebound this week against Kansas State and Texas. The Sooners (7-17, 2-14 Big 12) hit the road to face the Wildcats (18-6, 12-4 Big 12) on Wednesday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. and then return home to host the Longhorns at the OU Field House on Saturday, Nov. 18, for a 7 p.m. first serve.

Saturday night's match against Red River rival Texas has been designated as Alumni/Vegas Trip Night. Former OU volleyball players have been invited back and one lucky fan will win a free trip for two to Las Vegas.

Last Time Out

The Oklahoma volleyball team was stifled by a hot-hitting Texas Texas offense, 15-4, 15-1 and 15-1, Saturday night at the OU Field House in Norman, Okla. The Sooners struggled with a season-low 19 kills and registered a .033 hitting percentage, while the Red Raiders hit for a .462 average after controlling the ball for the majority of the match. OU senior middle blocker Holly McMillan and senior setter Carolyn Kittell both posted a team-best four kills for the match.

In all three games, Texas Tech jumped out to large leads from which Oklahoma was unable to recover. The Red Raiders claimed a 12-3 lead in game one, 11-0 lead in game two and a 14-0 lead in game three. When OU did receive the ball, attack errors hurt the team as they committed 16 for the contest and posted low hitting percentages in all three games.

A Closer Look At OU

The Sooners opened the 2000 season with five-straight wins, a first in program history, and a tournament title. OU rattled off its first four victories, dropping only three games over that span, to win the Lamar Cardinal Classic and earn senior middle blocker Cathy Cook tournament Most Valuable Player honors.

Oklahoma ended its nine-match losing streak a week ago against Iowa State, completing a season sweep of the Cyclones. Since that time, the Sooners have dropped two-straight home matches. Last week against Baylor, the team was on the verge of victory after winning game one and battling the Bears in game three before falling in the end, 3-1. Cook, who leads the team in kills per game (4.41) and hitting percentage (.338), recorded one of her best performances of the season against Baylor, landing 22 kills and committing only one error. On the defensive end, fellow senior middle blocker Holly McMillan leads the team in blocks, averaging 0.86 blocks per game, and senior setter Carolyn Kittell is the team leader in digs with a 2.49 average. As a team, Oklahoma ranks third in the Big 12 in service aces per game with a 1.69 average.

Scouting Kansas State
Kansas State recently swept in-state rival Kansas for its fourth-consecutive victory. With the win, KSU claimed sole possession of second place in the Big 12 Conference. Against the Sooners, the Wildcats will be defending a 14-match home winning streak on Wednesday.

As a team, the Wildcats are recording 17.70 kills per game, a .254 hitting percentage, 15.77 digs per game and 2.18 blocks per game. KSU is one of the top offensive teams in the conference.The 'Cats kills per game average ranks second in the league. The team also sports two of the top hitters in the league in freshman middle blocker Lauren Goehring, who owns the team's best hitting percentage at .391 (second in the Big 12), and senior middle blocker Kelle Branting, whose .377 attack percentage is good for third in the conference. Junior outside hitter Liz Wegner leads Kansas State and is second in the conference in kills per game with a 5.00 average. Defensively, Branting leads the team in blocks per game at 1.01 and junior outside hitter Lisa Mimick leads the squad and ranks second in the Big 12 in digs per game with a 4.07 average.

Scouting Texas

Texas' early season troubles have continued throughout the season. Since sweeping OU early in October, UT has compiled a 3-6 record. The Longhorns are coming off of a three-game defeat to No. 23 Missouri on Saturday, suffering their first season sweep to the Tigers in school history. Texas hosts Kansas on Wednesday before heading to Norman.

Junior outside hitter Kathy Tilson and freshman middle blocker Kathy Hahn are the Longhorns' top two offensive threats. Tilson leads the team in kills per game with a 3.64 average and Hahn owns the squad's best attack percentage at .337. Hahn is also one of the team's best blockers as she averages 1.08 per game. The 'Horns also have six players averaging better than 2.35 digs per game, led by junior outside hitter Katia Lara.

The Series

Oklahoma holds a dominating 40-12-1 edge over Kansas State. During the series, OU has compiled winning streaks of 15 and 10 games over the last 24 years. KSU holds a slim 4-3 edge since the Big 12 Conference formed after winning the last three contests. The Wildcats claimed a 3-0 (15-4, 15-9 and 15-7) victory over the Sooners in the first matchup this season at the OU Field House in Norman.

Texas has dominated Oklahoma 17-0 in the all-time series. The closest the Sooners have come to upsetting the Longhorns was last year in Austin when OU forced a fifth game before losing, 15-3, 7-15, 15-11, 7-15 and 13-15. Earlier this season, UT captured its ninth sweep of OU during the series with a 15-6, 15-7 and 15-1, win in Austin, Texas.

Among the League Leaders

As of November 6, several Sooners continue to remain among the Big 12 Conference's individual leaders in several categories.

Cathy Cook
Hitting Percentage - Eighth (.338)
Kills - Sixth (4.41)

Carolyn Kittell
Assists - 10th (11.23)
Service Aces - Tied -Fifth (0.33)

Holly McMillan
Service Aces - Tied-10th (0.31)

Jessica Barney
Service Aces - Second (0.49)

Second Half Improvement

As Oklahoma makes its way through the Big 12 Conference opponents for the second time this season, the team has shown some marked improvements in several areas. The team has increased its hitting percentage by 29 points by decreasing its amount of errors, hustled for 1.30 more digs per game and blocked .64 more per game.

Individually, senior middle blocker Cathy Cook has shown the most dramatic improvement on the team by increasing her attack percentage 142 points and averaging .67 blocks more per game.

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 in third place averaging 1.76 aces per game. The Sooners trail first place Texas Tech by only .08 aces per game.

Individually, Oklahoma has three players ranked among the conference's top five individuals in aces per game, led by sophomore Jessica Barney (second - 0.49), senior Carolyn Kittell (tied-fifth - 0.33) and senior Holly McMillan (tied-10th - 0.31). Barney leads all Sooners with nine multiple-ace performances, including tying a career-high five aces against Iowa State.

Doubling Up On Double-Doubles

Senior middle blocker Holly McMillan registered her fourth double-double performance of the season against Kansas. The Livermore, Calif., native landed a season-high 11 kills and a career-high 13 digs in the match. McMillan scored her other three double-double efforts against Iowa State, Lamar and New Mexico State at the beginning of the year. McMillan leads the team in the category.

By accomplishing her fourth double-double of the season, McMillan has equalled her career double-double total of four.

Quickie Notes

*Senior middle blocker Cathy Cook is averaging less than two errors per match over the last five contests.
*Senior middle blocker Cathy Cook has led the Sooners in kills in 19 of 24 matches.
*The Sooners enjoyed their largest home crowd in two years when 1,815 screaming fans watched the Sooners defeat Iowa State. It was the largest crowd at the OU Field House for a volleyball match since the 1998 season when 1,362 fans gathered to watch Oklahoma battle then-No. 12 Colorado. *The squad jumped out to the first 5-0 start in school history to begin the season.

Cook Selected As Preseason All-Big 12

Senior Cathy Cook was named to the 2000 preseason All-Big 12 Conference volleyball team after being named the 1999 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. The Irvine, Calif., native was the team's top returning hitter and middle blocker. She ended last season ranked 29th in the nation and third in the league in hitting efficiency with a .358.

Cook also was selected to the 1999 All-Big 12 honorable mention team. The last time a Sooner volleyball member was selected to the All-Big 12 team in consecutive years was in 1997 when Patrice Arrington was selected to the league's first team for the second-straight year and the third year that the All-American was honored as an All-Big 12 selection.

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.



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