Outside hitters Madison Ward and Kimmy Gardiner provided much of the offense in a 3-1, comeback win for the University of Oklahoma volleyball team over Georgia Southern. The Sooners improved to 2-0 at the Active Ankle Challenge, hosted by the University of Florida, Friday evening.
Oklahoma dropped the first set to the Eagles, 25-20 before rattling off narrow victories of 25-20 and 25-23, while ultimately claiming the match with a 25-18 win in the fourth.
Ward set a new career-high in kills with 18 after posting 15 in the season opener earlier in the day against Idaho. She hit .361, while Gardiner hit a match-high .452 and each added eight digs.
Junior setter Julia Doyle collected 44 assists and added five digs. Junior libero Taylor Migliazzo led the Sooners with 13 digs.
Oklahoma took the third set, a back-and-forth affair, and began to pull away for the win in the fourth. The Sooners held a narrow 14-13 lead and finished the set on an 11-5 run, including two kills by freshman middle blocker Marion Hazelwood, the second of which came as the match-winner.
For Georgia Southern, Katie Bange led the way in a 17-kill effort and hit .368. Kat Minnerly dished out 40 assists and Jamie DeRatt matched Migliazzo's match-high with 13 digs.
Weekend play resumes on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. against Florida. The match can be streamed online at the SEC Network.
-For the day, Ward totaled 33 kills, averaged 4.71 per set and hit .373.
-Gardiner totaled 25 kills, averaged 3.57 per set and hit a team-high .457.
-Julia Doyle recorded 40 or more assists for the second straight match and 22nd time in her career.
-The match was the first-ever between the two programs.
Sooners Sweep Idaho
The Sooners opened the year earlier in the day by racing through the first two sets against Idaho with wins of 25-15 and 25-12 before being pushed late by the Vandals. OU ultimately prevailed with a 26-24 win in the third.
Collectively, Oklahoma hit .400, while holding Idaho to a .211 attack percentage. Ward led all players with 15 kills and hit .387.
The Sooners had major contributions from Hazelwood and Gardiner. Hazelwood hit a match-high .522 with 10 kills, while Gardiner added nine kills on a .533 attack rate. The Mississippi State transfer, who earned All-America Honorable Mention a year ago, also contributed seven digs.
Doyle finished the match with a solo block on match-point to clinch the OU victory. Her solo block was only the second total block of the match for the Sooners, marking the lowest team total since not recording a block against Texas on October 28, 2012. Oklahoma's season-low in 2013 was 3.5 against Miami on September 20.
Doyle, a unanimous All-Big 12 Preseason selection, dished out 40 assists and added eight digs. The match marked the 21st of her career with 40 assists or more and just the third in which she has reached that mark in only three sets.
Migliazzo led all players with 16 digs. On the attack, sophomore middle blocker Micaela Spann and junior outside hitter Kierra Holst added eight and seven kills, respectively.
For the Vandals, Ali Forde picked up a team-high 10 kills to go with seven digs. Meredith Coba collected 26 assists, while Jenna Ellis added eight digs.
The Sooners day continues with a 4:30 pm contest against Georgia Southern before facing the host Gators Saturday at 1:30 pm. Saturday's contest be steamed online by SEC Network-Plus.
-The Sooners improved to 20-21 all time in season openers and 9-2 under Coach Restrepo.
-Ward recorded 15 kills in the match. It was the first time a Sooner recorded 15 or more kills in a match since Sallie McLaurin recorded 19 on Dec. 5,2013, against Alabama.
-The 15 kills matched a career-high for Ward, who first reached the mark against Kansas State on October 12, 2013.
-Doyle recorded 40 assist in the match. She previously recorded 49 on Dec. 5, 2013 against Alabama.
-The Sooners have now won four straight season openers.
-Oklahoma now leads the all-time series with Idaho, 3-2.