Greeley, Colo. – The University of Oklahoma volleyball team dropped its first contest of the season when it fell to Northern Colorado 2-3 in five sets (18-25, 25-23, 20-25, 25-19, 13-15) at the Butler Hancock Sports Pavilion, to stand 4-1 on the season.
The loss puts Oklahoma with an even 1-1 record heading into the final day of competition of the Hampton Inn & Suites Northern Colorado Classic.
The Sooners were led by sophomore Tara Dunn, who made her 2012 season debut recording sixteen kills and 17.0 points to help the Sooners in their efforts Friday evening.
The outside hitter was followed with strong performances by junior middle blocker Sallie McLaurin who registered 10 kills for a .333 hitting percentage, while also adding one solo block and five block assists. Senior Morgan Reynolds, who has been a contributor on the front line in the first five matches of the season, logged fourteen kills.
Senior libero Maria Fernanda, who inked her name in the Big 12 record book earlier today, put forth the second 20-plus, dig performance of the season with 21 on the night. The veteran defensive specialist was followed with two fourteen-dig performances from juniors Mindy Gowen and Keila Rodriguez in the backcourt.
Freshman standout Julia Doyle also added a career-performance with 45 assists for the second 40-or-more assist turnout of her young Sooner career.
The Sooners began the first set in a back-and-forth trade that saw each team put points on the board until the Bears grabbed an overwhelming lead at the 3-4 marker that they didn’t release for the rest of the set. It wasn’t until back-to-back kills by Reynolds and freshman Kierra Holst that Oklahoma could gather some of the slack and collect momentum in the first stanza, to give them the smallest deficit at 14-19. Northern Colorado maintained a six-point lead until they hit set point and closed out the opening set at 25-18.
In a tough-fought second set, Oklahoma pulled away with the win to even the match at 1-1 and force a fourth set. Oklahoma turned around a couple of small scoring runs to eventually collect an 18-12, six-point lead that it held onto to even-out the contest. The Bears, rallied in the final few points to put the match in jeopardy at 23-22, until a kill by Reynolds, and a ball handling error from Northern Colorado’s Allie Hutcheson secured the set for the Sooners.
The third set saw two ties at the 8-8 and 12-12 point marker, in which Oklahoma collected enough points to equal the playing field. While the Sooners were able to tighten the gap, Northern Colorado pulled away after the second tie to secure the third set at 25-19.
Oklahoma carried the lead all but four times in the fourth set to clinch the fifth and final stanza of the match. After a 12-12 tie in the middle of the set, the Bears pulled away with three points – their highest margin throughout the final full set – until Dunn registered three consecutive kills to hand the Sooners a lead that would forth the fifth, and deciding set.
The fifth set, was a back-and-forth battle to the end, which saw the Bears prevail with the win. Despite leading most of the set, the Sooners began to trail after a kill by UNC’s Tamre Haddock gave the Bears a one-point advantage at 9-10. In an impressive sequence, which saw Northern Colorado tally two attack errors and an added kill by Dunn, OU tied the set at 13-13. Even with their hard-fought efforts, OU was unable to secure the win as back-to-back kills from Haddock and Kelley Arnold gave UNC the match point at 13-15 for the victory.
Oklahoma will close out the Hampton Inn & Suites Northern Colorado Classic tomorrow morning against North Dakota State. First serve is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT.
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