NORMAN, Okla. – The University of Oklahoma volleyball team dropped a hard fought 3-2 match to 10th-ranked Nebraska Wednesday evening. In front of a crowd of 2,046, the second largest ever to watch a match in McCasland Field House, the Sooners (10-4, 3-2 Big 12) took the opening set 25-17. Nebraska (10-4, 3-2 Big 12) answered winning the second 26-24 and third 25-15 before OU took the fourth 27-25. The Huskers won the fifth set 15-10.
“It was a great performance by our team,” said Oklahoma head coach Santiago Restrepo. “There was a great crowd. We worked hard to prepare for this match and played extremely tough. Things just didn’t bounce our way in the fifth set.”
Sophomore setter Brianne Barker led OU with her 10th double-double this season, recording 42 assists and a career-high 25 digs. Barker added six kills, hitting .500 on the night. Sophomore Suzy Boulavsky registered 14 kills, one shy of her career high. Sophomore Caitlin Higgins also added 14 kills and recorded a season-high two service aces. Higgins also added nine digs.
Junior Sarah Freudenrich hit .421 with 10 kills, her seventh match with 10 or more kills on the year. Freudenrich also contributed four blocks, including Oklahoma’s only block solo on the evening. Junior Francie Ekwerekwu led OU in the front row with five block assists. She added seven kills. Senior Bridget Laplante had 19 digs, while freshman Maria Fernanda continued her strong defensive play tallying 22 digs. Fernanda also added four assists.
The Sooners and Huskers tied in total team blocks with nine each. Nebraska committed 14 service errors.
Oklahoma took an early 5-1 lead in the first set before Nebraska rallied to cut the OU lead to 9-8. Oklahoma stretched the lead out to 17-10 and never looked back. Nebraska responded by going ahead 10-5 in the second set. The Sooners then fought to tie the set at 11-11 and the two teams traded points throughout the remainder of the set. With seven ties and two lead changes, the Sooners forced a tie at 24-all before two OU miscues gave the Huskers the set, 26-24.
Nebraska controlled the third set from the beginning, leaping to a 15-9 advantage and taking the set, 25-15. In the fourth, Oklahoma turned the tables, leading 15-9 before the Huskers crawled back to one at 17-16. Nebraska was never able to take a lead but forcing a tie at 25-25 pushed the set to extra points. After giving up two errors to end the second set, Oklahoma got help from a Nebraska miscue and a kill from Freudenrich to force a deciding set, 27-25.
In the fifth, the squads held close before Nebraska took a 6-5 advantage and never relinquished the lead again. Despite Oklahoma downing points, the Huskers took the set 15-10 to win the match.
Oklahoma returns home Saturday afternoon to take on Texas Tech in a 3 p.m. CT contest. A free kids’ clinic will take place following the match and the first 250 kids in attendance receive a snap bracelet.