Pair of Wins Seal Undefeated Weekend
DEKALB, Ill. — The Oklahoma volleyball team clinched a pair of wins on Saturday to complete an undefeated weekend and earn the NIU Invitational title. The Sooners swept DePaul 3-0 in the morning before taking down Northern Illinois 3-1 in the nightcap.
Senior outside hitter Alyssa Enneking was named the Tournament MVP, finishing the weekend with a .267 hitting percentage and averaging 4.70 kills per set. She posted two double-doubles at the event, including one against the Huskies on Saturday night.
Joining Enneking on the All-Tournament Team were sophomore outside hitter Sarah Maras and sophomore setter Kylee McLaughlin. Maras hit .231 with a 3.00 kills per set average and tallied six service aces throughout the weekend. McLaughlin posted two double-doubles at the tournament, both on Saturday, and averaged 12.1 assists per set and 2.80 digs per set.
“It’s a long day,” OU head coach Lindsey Gray-Walton said of the Sooners' performance Saturday. “From the time we got up this morning to tonight, it becomes a mental battle. I like how our team responded. That’s why we play five – you’re going to lose some sets sometimes – and I really have to applaud their effort tonight because we had to make adjustments, and they were on it.
“3-0 on a weekend is something we can build off of,” she continued. “We can still work on things when we get back, and I’m just excited for next weekend.”
The Sooners opened the day with a 25-13, 25-15, 25-12 sweep of DePaul.
McLaughlin earned her first double-double as a Sooner with 34 assists and 10 digs.
Enneking totaled a match-high 14 kills, her second straight performance with double-digit kills. Junior middle blocker Brianna Kadiku hit .625 in the match, collecting six kills. Sophomore defensive specialist Keyton Kinley led both teams with 13 digs.
Overall, the Sooners hit .404 against the Blue Demons – including a .531 performance in the second set – while holding their opponent to a .085 showing. OU almost doubled DePaul’s kill total by a 44-23 mark.
The Sooners got off to a hot start thanks to three straight services aces from McLaughlin to open the first set. After an attack error put the Blue Demons on the board, OU went on a six-point run to force a Blue Demon timeout.
OU claimed five of the next seven points, causing DePaul to use another timeout. The Sooners kept rolling and went on a three-point run to clinch the set victory, sealed by a block assist from Kadiku and Enneking.
Set two started closer with DePaul taking a narrow 7-8 lead early. However, the Sooners responded with a five-point run – bookended by kills from Sarah Sanders and Maras – to force another DePaul timeout. OU’s run continued out of the break as Enneking and Maras both tallied kills.
Oklahoma carried its momentum, holding at least a four-point lead for the remainder of the second set. The Sooners closed the frame on a 6-1 run, clinching the set victory on a kill from Morgan Miller.
In the final set, the Sooners established an early 4-2 lead and held the advantage for the remainder of the frame. Taking a 15-10 lead into the media timeout, OU scored three more out of the break to grow its advantage to eight.
After the Blue Demons scored twice, the Sooners closed the third set on a 7-0 run. Enneking tallied three kills in that span, Miller and Kadiku each added one and Kinley registered a service ace.
In the nightcap, OU clinched the 3-1 victory over host school Northern Illinois by scores of 25-19, 17-25, 25-15 and 25-20.
Enneking and McLaughlin both posted double-doubles in the win. Enneking tallied 14 kills and 15 digs while McLaughlin registered 45 assists and 11 digs.
Also totaling double-digit kills were Kadiku and Maras, who both had 11 on the night. Kadiku added seven blocks and three service aces.
The Sooners took an early lead in set one, building a 7-2 advantage. Although the Huskies made a run and got within a point, OU kept its composure and went on a 5-1 run to enter the media timeout with a 15-10 lead.
The Huskies used their first timeout while trailing 17-12, after which the Sooners went on a 3-1 run to grow their advantage to seven points. NIU brought the game to 21-17, but the Sooners scored three straight to earn set point. After two NIU points, a huge kill from Sanders sealed the Sooners’ set win.
The two teams opened the second set trading points before the Huskies used a four-point run to take a 12-10 lead. After a Sooner timeout, the Huskies scored three more to build their lead to five. They carried the advantage throughout the remainder of the frame to eventually clinch the set.
The third frame also saw a competitive start, opening with a 5-5 tie. The Sooners went on a four-point run – aided by two aces and a kill from Kadiku – to build a 9-5 lead.
OU took a 15-11 advantage into the media timeout thanks to a pair of consecutive kills by Enneking. The Sooners came out of the timeout strong, scoring three more to extend their advantage to six points.
Oklahoma won seven of the last 10 points in the third frame, including the last three, to earn the set victory.
The Sooners jumped out to an early 6-2 lead in the fourth, forcing an NIU timeout after a pair of kills from Enneking and Sanders. Out of the break, OU outscored the Huskies 6-3 to cause NIU to take another timeout.
OU carried its advantage to build a 22-14 lead before NIU went on a quick three-point run. However, an attack error by the Huskies and a kill from Kadiku gave the Sooners match point. Kadiku and Maras combined for a block assist to seal the Sooner victory.
“We’ve just got to build on it,” Gray-Walton said of the undefeated weekend. “We can’t feel like 3-0 can finish a championship season for us. Next week, we’ve got an even tougher slate ahead, so I think this prepared us. I like our chemistry right now and what we’re building as a team, the identity we’re creating.
“I think this team is going to be a fun one for people to follow and watch,” she concluded. “In the highs and lows, we’re going to persevere. It’s going to be fun.”
Up next, the Sooners continue their season-opening road swing as they travel to Orange, N.J., Aug. 31-Sept 1 for the Seton Hall Tournament. OU will face Pittsburgh on Friday at 3:30 p.m. CT and VCU and Seton Hall on Saturday at 12 p.m. CT and 6 p.m. CT, respectively.