Aug. 8, 2011

2011 Oklahoma Volleyball

View the 2011 team information, including the roster, schedule and stats.

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Season and single-game tickets are available for purchase online. View complete details on attending a game at McCasland Field House:

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The University of Oklahoma volleyball team reported to campus Monday to begin preseason practice. Practice gets underway Tuesday morning and the team opens the season on Friday, August 26 against SMU at 7 p.m.

In preparation for the upcoming campaign, SoonerSports.com recently sat down with Head Coach Santiago Restrepo for a two-part series to learn more about a team that advanced to the Sweet 16 just last season and returns five starters and its libero.

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On his 2011 senior class...
"I am very grateful to [Barker, Boulavsky, Cowan and Higgins] for all they've done. They've meant a lot to this program. They've contributed to this program on and off the court. They have been with me through very tough personal times in my life. They've held the team together, and I'm very grateful for that."

On the makeup of this year's team...
"They're all very hard workers. They're all extremely gifted. They get along very well including the freshmen. It's going to be a good mesh. It's going to be great to see our seniors become good role models for our younger players. They're a fun group, too. Nothing is the same every day. You're always going to find something that is unique.  They're just a good group of kids. They're intense when they need to be but they're also fun when they need to be. When it comes time to work, we get down to business. When it's time to have fun, we have fun."

On how last year's success affects this season...
"It's great to be the underdog when people don't expect much out of you. It's also great to be the team everyone wants to beat because of their previous success. That's why you play the match. That's where you want to be. You know every day people are going to give you their best performance and you have to respond. I don't shy away from anything. We weren't intimated by Penn State's tradition and we went in there thinking we could win. You look at the scores of those sets, and it was close in the first two. We took something away from that and that's the important thing. It's recognizing how close you were to pulling off a huge upset. Our motto is why not us? We go in with mentality that we're going to bring it. Bring your best game every match and let's win. You want the other team to bring their best so you can beat the best."

On improvements the team can make...
"Every day you have to get better. Last year we put an emphasis on strong serving so we could give ourselves an advantage because we are great defenders. If we can take at least one of their offensive threats out we're going to be able to defend better. We have to be able to hit the ball smarter. We're not necessarily the tallest team out there but we can be very efficient on hitting around the block and setting up different shots. We have to be better blockers. We just have to deflect the ball in bounds. We did that last year, but we need to do a lot more of that this year."

On the non-conference schedule...
"We have 19 matches before we start conference which is probably the most we've played since I've been here. They're going to be difficult. We're bringing in teams that have beaten in the past and a team like SMU that's beaten us in the spring. Missouri State has been tough. Oral Roberts has international players that are good. Those players are very knowledgeable and have good fundamentals. It's tough to play teams like that. After that opening weekend, we turnaround and play Colorado State who has annually been one of the best teams in the country. We are throwing them in the fire the first four days of the season. We go to Miami, a team that was selected to win the ACC. Auburn is an upcoming team from the SEC that got in the tournament last year. Florida A&M also has a lot of international players. Cincinnati is another team on our schedule that's tough. They've finished in the top three of the BIG EAST. We scheduled those teams to have a strong non-conference schedule."

On the Big 12...
"The Big 12 is a wide open race. It's a tough league but one win could turn the tide for a team. You have to bring it every night because you never know. The pressure is on every single team. We have to play our best to win every night. We're not a team that can afford to take a break. We have to come out on all cylinders and play our best."