Oklahoma dished New Mexico just its second loss of the season, and first loss in 11 matches, as they drop to 11-2 on the year following tonight’s contest.
“How quickly this team has improved – It’s unheard of,” explained Sooner head coach Santiago Restrepo. “ It’s very exciting. This is a whole new season coming up with Big 12 play starting on Wednesday. Conference play is a whole new season. So it’ll be interesting to see what we do once conference starts.”
After starting slow, and trailing 6-2 in the first set, Oklahoma turned up the heat and never looked back. A dominating second set gave the Sooners momentum heading into the third stanza, and eventual match victory.
“I talked to the team during the intermission, about the fact that we have to finish on a high note and play very well together,” said Restrepo.” We had to carry the momentum to win tonight, and we did just that.”
Three Sooners were named to the Oklahoma Invitational All-Tournament team as Maria Fernanda, Keila Rodriguez and Sallie McLaurin represented OU. McLaurin was additionally selected Tournament MVP.
The Sooners were led by a flashing duo as both middle blocker McLaurin, and outside hitter Morgan Reynolds each posted 11 kills against the Lobos. McLaurin led the team, successfully striking 11 of her 17 swings with just one error to hit an efficient .588, while also contributing a team-leading six blocks on the night.
Fernanda continued her domination on the court, recording a team high 13 digs to surpass the 1,900 career-digs marker, now with 1,901 under her belt. The Sooner veteran now just needs 99 digs to become the first player in program history to record 2,000 or more digs.
After a 33-assist performance this afternoon from Julia Doyle, the freshman followed suit again with a team-high 31 assists tonight. Doyle also inked one kill and an additional eight digs.
Sophomore walk-on Makenzie Kink made her Crimson and Cream debut in the Sooners victory, as she took the last serve and assisted the final kill in the Sooners second set.
Despite trailing early in the first, 5-1, the Sooners slowly bounced back as they collected a few points here-and-there until back-to-back kills from Dunn and McLaurin put OU within one, 9-10. New Mexico maintained the lead until Oklahoma went on a six-point score run to go up 16-11and take a lead it would hold the remainder of the set. The Sooners held the Lobos to just six more points, until kills from Holst and McLaurin secured the first set, 25-17.
The second stanza was all about one thing – Oklahoma – as the Sooners limited the Lobos to just nine total points. It was a back-and-forth battle that saw the score tied at 5-5 and a New Mexico lead at 7-6, but it was the only break the Lobos would catch as the Sooners took off on a 4-0 run to go up 11-6. Despite the somewhat rocky start, the Sooners closed the set out strong behind nine serves from Doyle and a 11-0 run to take the match lead and second set, 25-9.
Oklahoma carried the momentum from the second stanza and straight into the third and final set as they quickly jumped ahead 3-0. Not once did the Sooners drop the lead or meet a tie, as they quickly took the third set and match point, 25-19.
The All-Tournament Team was composed of SMU’s Courtney Manning, UALR’s Edina Begic, New Mexico’s Chantal Riddle and Miquella Lovato, as well as Oklahoma’s Fernanda, Rodriguez, and tournament MVP, McLaurin.
Prior to Oklahoma's final match of the tournament, SMU and UALR took to the court with SMU winning in an exciting five-set match (25-22, 19-25, 25-23, 22-25, 17-15). SMU improves to 3-9 on the season to begin Conference USA play on Wednesday. With tonight's loss, UALR drops to 4-8 heading into Sun Belt Conference action on Friday.
“This is a good way to start the week, heading into our first conference match,” remarked Restrepo.
Oklahoma returns to action this week with its first conference match of the 2012 season when it plays host to No. 19 Kansas State. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. CT at McCasland Field House. The match will also air live on FS Oklahoma.
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/// SoonerSports PR