The University of Oklahoma volleyball team grinded out a 3-2 win over Cal State Northridge in its home opener at McCasland Field House, Wednesday night. The win marked the first of four matches for the Sooners, who improved to 5-2, in their home NIKE Invitational. The Matadors dropped to 5-2 with the loss.
The two teams traded sets with Oklahoma prevailing; 25-13, 23-25, 27-25, 25-27, 15-10. For the match, the Sooners hit .242, while holding CSUN to a .180 attack rate.
“[CSUN] is a team that went to the tournament last year,” said coach Santiago Restrepo. “That isn't a no-name team. They play in a tough conference. They are well coached and they are good offensively. I knew it wasn't going to be a piece of cake. I knew that it was going to be tough. Usually California teams are good at playing defense and being steady, calm and collected. I think the difference was that in the fifth set we had 10 kills and four errors. They had four kills and four errors. They hit .000 and we hit .261 in the fifth set when it matters the most.”
The first set was the only set of the first four decided by more than two points. Oklahoma raced out to a quick 7-1 lead behind four consecutive service aces from junior outside hitter Kierra Holst. She totaled eight for the match, which sets a new OU, five-set record during the 25-point, rally scoring era. It is tied for the second most in a match all-time across all eras.
Holst totaled a season-high 16 kills in the match; good enough for second on the team. Sophomore outside hitter Kimmy Gardiner led the way in her Sooner debut with 17 kills on a .351 hitting percentage. She added 10 digs and four blocks in her second double-double of the season.
“[Gardiner] led the team with 17 kills and hit .351,” said Restrepo of the Mississippi State transfer. “Obviously, she is talented and capable of putting up those numbers. I think it speaks about the mental aspect of her game. She is very focused and wants the ball badly. She wants to score for the team and to get the kills. That is a tribute to her and how hard she works.”
Twice, Oklahoma fought back from large deficits in the third. Trailing 7-2, the Sooners tied the match on four straight points during sophomore outside hitter Madison Ward's serve. Late in the set, the Matadors led 24-22, but OU battled back to take the set, 27-25. Ward finished the match with 10 kills, 12 digs and five blocks for her team-leading third double-double of the season.
Junior setter Julia Doyle tallied 48 assists to go with four digs, three blocks and three kills. Defensively, junior libero Taylor Migliazzo led the way with 15 digs.
CSUN's Kelcie Randazzo led all players with 19 digs. Outside hitter Casey Kinger produced a double-double with 16 kills, 13 digs and six blocks.
The Sooners return to action Thursday night against Arkansas-Little Rock.
· Oklahoma is now 1-2 in five-set matches.
· The Sooners have used the same starting lineup in all seven matches this season.
· Oklahoma has held all seven opponents this season to an attack rate under .300.
· The previous record for service aces in the 25-point, rally scoring era by a Sooner was five by Doyle against Kansas State in 2012.
· Oklahoma improved to 27-14 all-time in home openers and 9-2 under Restrepo.
· OU leads the all-time series against CSUN, 2-0.
· Emma Kelly set a season-high with seven digs and Marion Hazelwood added a season-high six blocks.