STANFORD, Calif. – The University of Oklahoma volleyball team advanced to the NCAA Second Round with a 3-1 win over Alabama at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion on Thursday afternoon. The Sooners overcame a first set loss to take the match; 20-25, 25-19, 25-19, 25-23 and improve to 24-7 on the season.
Oklahoma takes on the winner of No. 3 Stanford and Hampton tomorrow at 9:00 pm CST.
The Sooners are now 10-9 all-time in 10 NCAA Tournament appearances. The 24th win of the season is the second highest in the Santiago Restrepo era, passing 23 in 2010; the last time that OU made the Sweet 16.
The Crimson Tide (24-10) hit an impressive .577 to take the first set, but Oklahoma evened the match by hitting .375 in the second and took command in the third with a .455 attack rate.
“We did what we were supposed to,” said Restrepo. “[Alabama] is a very talented team, very good athletes. We put a little more pressure on them with our blocks in the second, third and fourth set. They were hitting at will and very freely in the first set, but we made some good adjustments with our blocking.”
For the match, the Sooners posted a season-high 18 blocks led by sophomore setter Julia Doyle (Plymouth, Minn.) with a career-high 10. It was the first 10-block effort by an OU player since Sallie McLaurin (Midwest City, Okla.) against Tulsa on September 17. Doyle totaled 49 assists for her fifth double-double of the season.
McLaurin led the Oklahoma attack with 19 kills and a .485 hitting percentage. She passed former teammate Suzy Boulavsky for seventh all-time at OU in career kills as she lifted her total to 1,342. McLaurin also added nine blocks to mark the second straight match two or more Sooners have recorded five or more blocks.
“After the first, we finally settled down,” stated Restrepo. “I don’t know if we had jitters, but we finally settled down and played our game.”
Senior outside hitter Keila Rodriguez (Gurabo, Puerto Rico) was second on the team with 14 kills to go with a .310 attack rate and a match-high 13 digs for her team-leading 11th double-double of the season. She reached the 500-kill mark for her career with her seventh of the match.
Sophomore Kierra Holst (Coppell, Texas) and redshirt-freshman Madison Ward (Lawton, Okla.) both reached double figures in kills with 13 and 10, respectively. Holst hit .324, while Ward added five digs.
Krystal Rivers tallied 14 kills and hit .357 to lead the Alabama attack followed by Brittany Thomas with 11 kills and 10 digs. Sierra Wilson dished out a match-high 52 assists. Kryssi Daniels led the Crimson Tide with 12 digs.
For the match, Alabama hit .238 and was held to a .000 attack rate in the second set when the Sooners picked up seven of their 18 blocks.
McLaurin, along with fellow seniors Mindy Gowen (Edmond, Okla.) and Eden Williams (Amarillo, Texas) tied the OU program record for career NCAA games played with their seventh. The record was set by last year’s graduating class of Morgan Reynolds and Maria Fernanda.
The Sooners are now 2-3 in the all-time series against the Crimson Tide, having won the last two. Oklahoma improved to 18-19 all-time against the SEC, 8-4 under Restrepo and have won six in a row dating back to 2010.