First Practice of 2018 Ushers in New Era
NORMAN — A new era of Oklahoma volleyball began Wednesday as the team opened its 2018 preseason with its first practices under head coach Lindsey Gray-Walton.
Gray-Walton – joined on the sidelines by first-year assistant coaches Jake Barreau and Megan Pendergast and volunteer assistant Kyle Walton – led her squad in a pair of training sessions at the newly-renovated McCasland Field House to kick off her inaugural season at the helm.
“My overall thoughts are we have great energy — really great energy, good passion, excitement to be in the gym again,” Gray-Walton said. “We took four months off from April to now, so I think everyone’s been really hungry.”
The Sooners return nine student-athletes from the 2017 season, including five starters. A wealth of experience comes from the 2018 senior class in Audrey Alford (setter; Norman, Okla.), Madison Drescher (outside hitter; Southlake, Texas), Alyssa Enneking (outside hitter; League City, Texas) and Morgan Miller (outside hitter; Magnolia, Texas), who combined for 92 starts last season.
OU also brings back sophomores Paige Anderson (outside hitter; McKinney, Texas), Hali’a Hogan (middle blocker; Kaneohe, Hawaii), Sarah Maras (outside hitter; Tulsa, Okla.), Kira Morikawa (defensive specialist; Honolulu, Hawaii) and Sarah Sanders (outside hitter; Plano, Texas).
Oklahoma also welcomes a large group of newcomers this season, including transfers Brianna Kadiku (middle blocker; Cedar Hill, Texas), Keyton Kinley (defensive specialist; Lexington, Ky.) and Kylee McLaughlin (setter; Carrollton, Texas) and freshmen Aysia Harty (defensive specialist; McKinney, Texas), Sabrina Simms (outside hitter; Argyle, Texas) and Olga Zampati (outsider hitter; Athens, Greece).
Fans will have their first chance to preview the Sooners in an exhibition match on Aug. 18 at 3 p.m. CT against Arkansas at McCasland. Admission to the match is free. OU Athletics will introduce a clear bag policy and walk-through metal detectors at all home events this season; more information can be found here.
The Sooners open their 2018 campaign Aug. 24-25 in Dekalb, Ill., at the Northern Illinois Invitational, the first of three road tournaments for OU. Oklahoma then returns home Sept. 14-15 to host Northwestern State and Texas A&M in the OU Nike Invitational. Season and single-match tickets are on sale now.