Sooners open postseason with big win over Sun Devils.
The OU press release follows.
PROVO, Utah – The University of Oklahoma volleyball team went to five-sets (3-2; 20-25, 25-19, 25-18, 19-25, 15-13) for the fourth time this season, and third time in its NCAA history in a heart-pounding match against Arizona State Friday night at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah, to advance to the NCAA Second Round tomorrow night.
“This was a big battle between a Pac 12 and Big 12 team,” remarked head coach Santiago Restrepo. “We happened to come through on the fifth set – our team fought like champions.
Oklahoma advances to the NCAA Second Round for the fourth time in seven years and fourth time under the helm of Restrepo after tonight’s victory.
“I thought Arizona State did a great job fighting throughout every point – every single point,” he continued. “Jason Watson has done a terrific job with that team and getting them to where they are today and into the NCAA Tournament; hats off to Arizona State.”
Four Sooners combined to hit double-digits, with senior outside hitter Morgan Reynolds leading the way with a career-best 21 kills on the night. Junior Sallie McLaurin, totaled 15, while sophomore Tara Dunn added 14 of her own. Freshman Kierra Holst added 10 to round out OU’s offensive efforts and total the seventh double-digit kill of her rookie year, and first since Oct. 10 against No. 21 Kansas.
“I couldn’t do this without this team. I couldn’t do it without Julia [Doyle], our passers and everything else,” explained Reynolds on her performance. “Everything kind of came together at the right time and it just worked well for me. Obviously, I give the credit to my team.”
Reynolds’ offensive output is the second-best performance for a Sooner in OU postseason history, joining forces with Mariana Blum and Patrice Arrington, who each knocked down 21 kills against Florida A&M in 2007, and Houston in 1997, respectively.
Along with their presence on the front line, both Reynolds and McLaurin broke an OU NCAA individual match record with six block assists a piece against Arizona State. It was the best defensive effort for the Sooners since 1999 in NCAA Tournament play.
Doyle also had a career performance with 51 assists – the first of her career – to ink the ninth 40-or-more assist match of her freshman campaign.
“She played today, the best she has played all season,” said Restrepo “She was consistent, and just did a great job.”
Doyle also added two assists and eight digs in the Sooners efforts.
Senior libero Maria Fernanda added 27 digs for the 10th 20-plus dig performance of her senior season. In a senior campaign that has seen Fernanda chase after the Big 12 career digs record, Fernanda closed just a little more. She now owns 2,190 digs throughout her four-year career, for the OU record, and looks to inch closer to Iowa State’s Ashley Mass who holds the conference record with 2,294.
The Sooners will face the winner of tonight’s No. 12 BYU/New Mexico State match tomorrow evening at 8 p.m. CT. The match will be streamed live through NCAA.com, with live stats provided through GameTracker. The link will be made available later tonight.
Live streaming for tomorrow night’s match can also be found at byutvsports.com. Fans have to create a username and password, but there aren’t any fees. Fans can also watch the match on channel 9403 (Dish Network) or 374 (DIRECTV). For cable info, please visit: http://byutv.org/getBYUtv.
SOME NOTABLE NOTES:
– It was only the third five-set match for Oklahoma in NCAA history, who won each of its five-set matches in 2010 (vs. Tulsa) and in 1988 (vs. Nebraska) – each in the second round.
– Oklahoma advanced to the NCAA Second Round for the fourth time in seven years, and the fourth time under head coach Santiago Restrepo.
– The Sooners improve to 2-2 on the year in five-set matches with wins against Tulsa and Arizona State and losses to Northern Colorado and then-No. 21 Kansas.
– Tomorrow night’s match will mark the sixth time in program history that OU has advanced to the NCAA Second Round.
– OU’s lone seniors – Morgan Reynolds and Maria Fernanda – are the only players in program history to play in the NCAA each of their four years with the Sooners.
– Morgan Reynolds had the best offensive output of her career with 21 kills – the first time she has ever hit 20-or more in a single match.
– Reynolds 21 kills marked the best offensive performance for a Sooner in the NCAA Tournament since Mariana Blum knocked down 21 against Florida A&M in 2007 in the First Round.
– Julia Doyle totaled 50 assists for the first time of her career in the Crimson and Cream with 51 in the five-set victory over Arizona State. The performance also marked the ninth 40-plus assist match of her freshman campaign.
– Maria Fernanda totaled the 10th 20-plus dig performance of her senior season with 27 against the Sun Devils. It also marked the 45th 20-plus dig performance of her OU career.
– Both Reynolds and McLaurin broke an individual match record for OU in the NCAA Tournament with six block assists. Before tonight, Meredith Van Horn and Holly McMillan each totaled five block assists against Houston in 1997.
Head coach Santiago Restrepo:
On his team’s performance:
“I’m proud of this team, but the sooner we forget about this match, the better for our team. Yes, it was a great game, but the bottom line is that tomorrow is a different day, and it brings a different challenge to your team. I don’t want them to drop the memory of them having this great win under your belt, but we need to focus on tomorrow. Both teams present different matchups for us”
On the team’s offensive output:
“From the very beginning we had focused a lot on defense and blocking, and in the last three weeks of the season, we said forget about defense and blocking, let us concentrate on our offense. We weren’t generating enough points, so we talked to the team about generating between 15-18 kills per set. We got Arizona State offensively tonight, and that’s what helped.”
On Julia Doyle:
”She had a great hit in the fifth set that was key for us. She’s very gutsy. We’re happy to have her on our team. She played today, the best she has played all season. She was consistent. She just did a great job tonight.”
Senior libero Maria Fernanda:
On the match:
“I think overall it was just us coming together and battling through all the momentum throughout the match. I think in the fifth set we were down and we realized that we just have to come together, fight for each and every point and just come together to get the win. It was more a team effort than anything tonight.”
On making it to the NCAA Tournament all four years at OU:
“I think it’s more for the program, and that’s great. For the players coming in they see that we’re making history here for this program with so many appearances in the NCAA – I think it sets high expectations. I think it’s more for our team and for the history of Oklahoma volleyball.”
On tomorrow’s matchup:
“It’s the NCAA tournament, so you have to expect everything. Everyone is going for it and everyone is fighting for it. Obviously, if you win, you go onto the Sweet 16. We’re going to sleep, get some rest and get up in the morning and work.”
Senior outside hitter Morgan Reynolds
On the match:
“I think we talk about weathering the storm all the time and that was a perfect example. In tournament play, it can go either way, and teams fight their hearts out. Arizona State, just like us, fought until the very end. We just stuck with it and pulled through when it mattered.”
On her offensive performance:
“I couldn’t do this without this team. I couldn’t do it without Julia [Doyle], our passers and everything else. Everything kind of came together at the right time and it just worked well for me. Obviously, I give the credit to my team.”
On making it to the NCAA Tournament all four years at OU:
“I think it’s just building our program and earning the respect of other teams. I think we’re doing that by making consistent appearances in the NCAA multiple years in a row.”
HOW IT HAPPENED: THE PLAY-BY-PLAY
Both teams swapped points to begin the match with four different ties and two lead changes with just four points on the board for either team, but ASU quickly answered with seven-straight points to go up 11-4 and force an OU timeout. The Sooners finally put points on the board with four kills from four separate players – Holst, Dunn, McLaurin and Reynolds – to inch closer to the Sun Devils at 10-16. Despite a huge blocking effort that saw OU compile three total blocks in a span of eight points between both teams, ASU walked away with the first set victory, 25-20.
The second set played in favor of the Sooners in the opening minute, as the Sooners grabbed a 6-2 lead and forced a Sun Devil timeout to start. Oklahoma kept its momentum despite the break in play, with back-to-back kills from Dunn, and a key block from Reynolds and McLaurin to maintain the lead and continue to spread the gap at 13-7. ASU totaled three-straight points at the midway marker to cut the OU lead to three, 16-13, but the Sooners answered right back with three points of their own and hold another six-point advantage at 19-14. The second set finished just the way it started, with the Sooners in complete control. OU tied the match 1-1 before the break with a 25-19 performance in the second stanza.
Again, a back-and-forth battle started the third set, until a sequence of two Fernanda service aces sparked a 7-0 run for OU to take their first significant lead of the set, 12-5. ASU answered by adding points here-and-there, until it totaled three-straight kills to cut the lead to two, 14-12. The Sooners and Sun Devils continued light up the board for their respective team, as the Sooners led by no more than three points until they strung together a 5-0 run to take the 22-16 lead. Eventually OU put together three-straight points to take the set and 2-1 match lead, 25-18.
Arizona State started the fourth set with a 2-0 lead, but Oklahoma answered with a Reynolds kill and Dunn service ace to make it a tie-set early on, 2-2. Neither team gained control of the set until the Sun Devils strung together a 4-0 run to take the first significant lead by either team, 9-6, and force a Sooner timeout. OU returned from the break with two points, but ASU maintained their play and a steady lead. The Sun Devils put together a 6-0 run to reach the 20-point mark first (20-15) and secure the eventual fourth-set victory, 25-19.
The Sooners won the pivotal first point in the fifth and final set, and three-straight points to go up 5-2 before they forced a Sun Devil timeout. ASU returned from its break with three points of its own to tie the match up, 6-6. It was an Oklahoma service ace and ASU block that gave the Sun Devils the 8-7 lead before both teams switched courts. Both teams continued to trade points and tie-it up until ASU converted a 3-0 run – the longest of the final set – for an 11-9 lead. Two straight OU kills – courtesy of McLaurin and Reynolds, respectively – gave OU a 12-11 lead. With OU match point on the line, ASU notched a kill from Macey Gardner to stay in the game at 14-13, but it was Reynolds who secured her career-best performance with the match-winning kill to advance OU to the NCAA Second Round with a 15-13 fifth set score.