Sooners Wrap Up Road Swing in Colorado
Sept. 7-8 | Boulder, Colo. | CU Events Center
NORMAN — The Oklahoma volleyball team concludes its season-opening road swing this weekend as it travels to Boulder, Colo., for the Buffs Invitational. The Sooners kick off the event with a 4 p.m. CT matchup against North Carolina on Friday. On Saturday, OU will face Georgia at 1 p.m. CT before taking on host school No. 24 Colorado at 8 p.m. CT.
Saturday night’s contest against the Buffaloes will be streamed via the Pac-12 Colorado Live Stream. Additionally, live stats for all three of OU’s matches will be available on CUBuffs.com, and fans can follow along on Twitter (@OU_Volleyball) for live updates.
Last Time Out
Oklahoma moved to 4-2 on the season after posting a 1-2 record at the Seton Hall Classic last weekend in Orange, N.J. After suffering their first losses of the year to No. 14 Pittsburgh and VCU 3-1, the Sooners bounced back to sweep Seton Hall on its home court.
Facing their first ranked opponent of the season, the Sooners took the first set against Pitt 25-16 before dropping three close sets of 25-19, 25-21 and 25-22. Sophomore middle blocker Paige Anderson registered a career-high 11 total blocks in the contest. Additionally, classmate Kylee McLaughlin earned her third straight double-double with 37 assists and 13 digs. Junior middle blocker Brianna Kadiku led the Sooners with 13 kills, registering a match-high .579 hitting percentage.
The Sooners then dropped a hard-fought contest with VCU in the afternoon, winning the second set (25-18) but falling in sets one, three and four (25-22, 27-25, 25-20). Senior outside hitter Alyssa Enneking finished the match with 27 kills, breaking her own program record for kills in a four-set match. She added 10 digs to earn her third double-double of the season. McLaughlin also registered a double-double in the contest, posting a season-high 47 assists to go with 13 digs to mark her fourth straight double-double. Classmate Keyton Kinley matched a career high with 22 digs against the Rams.
In Saturday’s nightcap, the Sooners bounced back with a straight-set victory over host Seton Hall, 25-22, 25-10, 25-30. The Pirates’ 10 points in the second frame are the fewest the Sooners have allowed in a set, excluding fifth sets, since allowing 10 against Arkansas Pine-Bluff in 2016.
Enneking led the Seton Hall match with 14 kills and added 13 digs for her second double-double of the day. Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Sanders also reached double-digit kills, setting a career high with 12. McLaughlin paced all players with 37 assists and Kinley led the Sooners with 22 digs.
Four Sooners combined for five all-tournament selections in OU’s first two tournaments of the season. Senior outside hitter Alyssa Enneking has represented the Sooners on both the NIU Invitational and the Seton Hall Classic tournament teams and was named the MVP at the NIU Invitational.
A trio of sophomores have earned OU’s other tournament accolades this season. Outside hitter Sarah Maras and setter Kylee McLaughlin were both placed on the All-Tournament Team at the NIU Invitational, and outside hitter Sarah Sanders was named to the Seton Hall Classic All-Tournament Team.
New Faces, Early Impact
Seven of the 16 members of OU’s roster are wearing the Crimson and Cream for the first time this season. The Sooners welcome four transfers this season in Brianna Kadiku (middle blocker, Memphis), Keyton Kinley (defensive specialist, Tennessee), Kylee McLaughlin (setter, Oregon State) and Haley Sanchez (defensive specialist, Bakersfield College). Additionally, OU signed three freshmen for the 2018 campaign: defensive specialist Aysia Harty (McKinney, Texas) and outside hitters Sabrina Simms (Argyle, Texas) and Olga Zampati (Athens, Greece).
Kadiku, Kinley and McLaughlin have started in all six of OU’s matches so far in 2018. Harty has played in each of the Sooners’ 21 sets, earning her first start against Pittsburgh.
Previewing North Carolina
The Tarheels are 2-3 so far in 2018, most recently going 2-1 at the Carolina Classic. North Carolina swept UNCG and Maryland Eastern Shore before falling 1-3 to Michigan State. UNC’s season opened at the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, where it dropped matches to No. 9 Wisconsin 3-0 and No. 4 Minnesota 3-1.
UNC’s offense is led by Destiny Cox and Skylar Wine, who pace the team with 3.75 and 3.31 kills per set, respectively, with the majority of the Tarheel’s assists coming from setter Hunter Atherton (148 assists). Libero Mia Fradenburg leads the defense with 68 digs (4.00/set) this season while Katherine Esterley holds a team-high 18 total blocks (1.20/set).
Undefeated through six matches this season, Georgia enters the Buffs Invitational after three 3-0 sweeps at the UC Irvine/Adidas Invitational against Texas Tech, UC Irvine and CSU Bakersfield. Overall, the Bulldogs have only dropped three sets in 2018, going to five sets with Coastal Carolina and four with Illinois State.
T’ara Ceasar leads the Bulldogs with 4.70 kills/set, hitting .310 on the season. UGA’s offense is run by setter Meghan Donovan, who is averaging 11.19 assists per set this year. Libero Kendal Glover is averaging 4.62 digs per set, and Majesti Bass, Donovan and Anna Kate Karstens lead the team with 14, 12 and 11 blocks, respectively, in 2018.
Buffs Invitational host Colorado enters its home tournament with a No. 24 ranking by the AVCA Coaches Poll. Currently 3-2, the Buffaloes are coming off a split weekend at the Pac-12/Big Ten Challenge. After being swept by No. 11 Illinois, Colorado defeated Iowa 3-1. CU’s other loss this season came in five sets at Wyoming.
Outside hitters Alexa Smith and Justine Spann lead Colorado with 3.74 and 3.37 kills per set, respectively, while Brynna Deluzio has totaled a team-high 137 assists (7.21/set). Libero Rachel Whipple is currently averaging 3.26 dig per set, and middle blocker Danielle Price has tallied 1.42 blocks per set.
Up Next: Home Slate Begins
After opening the season with three straight road tournaments, the Sooners open their 2018 home slate on Sept. 14-15 as they host Northwestern State and Texas A&M in the OU Nike Invitational at McCasland Field House in Norman. On Friday, OU will face Northwestern State at 11 a.m. CT and Texas A&M at 7 p.m. CT. After a neutral-site match Saturday morning, the Sooners will have a rematch with the Aggies at 5 p.m. CT.