Senior Morgan Reynolds led the way for the Sooners with 17 kills, while senior Maria Fernanda led all players with 17 digs as Oklahoma moved to 7-2 under head coach Santiago Restrepo in lid-lifters. The Sooners, hosting the Nike Invitational, move to 18-21 all-time in openers and notch their seventh home-opening match in nine years.
Three freshmen in setter Julia Doyle, middle blocker Kierra Holst and outside hitter Madison Ward inked their first career starts in the Crimson and Cream, as they were joined by veterans Sallie McLaurin, Morgan Reynolds, Keila Rodriguez and Maria Fernanda.
"We beat a very good team tonight - they make it into the NCAA Tournament almost every year," explained OU head coach Santiago Restrepo.
The Sooners came out strong in the latter half of the first set with a swift 25-19 tally. The team found itself in an early 9-3 hole, but battled back with five straight points off of serves from senior defensive specialist Maria Fernanda (Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico).
Missouri State claimed the second set down to the last bit with a 26-24 battle that saw Reynolds tally eight kills.
The final two sets led Oklahoma home to the win. After another slow start that found the team down 7-5, the Sooners embarked on an 8-2 run to grab a lead they wouldn't relinquish, capitalized by a final kill from Reynolds.
Similar to the same match just a year ago where Missouri State took Oklahoma to another four-set match, Friday night's nail-biting fourth set saw neither team lead by more than four points. OU was able to claim the victory, though off of a Rodriguez kill.
"I think this was a work in progress," remarked Restrepo. "I think for all the years that I have been here, to start at this high of a level and be hitting almost .300 (.292) as a team is pretty incredible."
In earlier action at the Nike Invitational, Tulsa defeated Western Michigan, 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-21).
The tournament resumes Saturday at McCasland Field house beginning at 10 a.m. CT with Tulsa squaring-off against Missouri State. The Sooners face Western Michigan at noon, Missouri State takes on Western Michigan at 5 p.m. CT, while Oklahoma and Tulsa close out the two-day invitational at 7 p.m. CT. GameTracker for all matches is available via the schedule page on SoonerSports.com.
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