NORMAN — It’s been seven years since Oklahoma has seen a start like the one they are on. With a 12-2 record, the volleyball team has rolled through most of the units it has come up agaisnt. That includes six matches that ended in a clean 3-0 sweep.
“I think overall it has been a great start for our season,” OU coach Santiago Restrepo said. “We fell in a couple of matches, but that’s to be expected with so many young people playing at a time. Can’t complain.”
Oklahoma is coming off a solid showing over the weekend at its own NIKE Invitational. While it earned a loss to Miami, it rolled over Nebraksa-Omaha and LIU Brooklyn.
Sallie McLaurin, a three-time Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week winner, leads the way with a .456 hitting percentage and 3.82 kills per set average. She also leads the team with 1.39 blocks per set followed by freshman Micaela Spann at 1.08.
The way the team has been playing has even caught veterans like McLaurin by surprise.
“They are definitely playing better than expected,” McLaurin said. “I always try to come out with an open mind and not expect much. They are amazing players, but you want to see what you have.”
However, the preseason fun is over. It’s now time for the Sooners and Big 12 Confernece action begins at 7 tonight when they host Texas Tech at McCasland Fieldhouse. OU’s record in their first 14 games means nothing now as they face the heated play of conference rivaries.
“We need to come out with a a lot of energy,” sophomore Taylor Migliazzo said. “All these teams are going to be a challenge. We just need to play to our full potential and everyone needs to do their job. We should be good. We always try to go out with as much energy as we can. but definitely conference is more intense. So hopefully the energy will pick up even more.”
Since moving to libero, Migliazzo has taken over the team lead in digs per set at 3.76. She set a program, five-set record with 40 at Tulsa.
After the Sooners tangle with the Red Raiders (7-8), they will travel to Austin to face defending national champion Texas at 3 p.m. Saturday. It’s always a game that brings out the emotions for the Oklahoma team.
Yet, McLaurin, expects her team to play at the same high level it has been competing at all year regardless of whether its a conference match or not.
“I feel like the games are kind of the same,” McLaurin said. “Everybody wants to beat you, everybody is out to get you. So you definitely have to bring your A-game the whole time.”
Oklahoma is 8-9 in Big 12 openers dating back to the league’s inaugural season in 1996. The Sooners have won each of their last seven since the 2006 season, including a 3-2 win at Texas Tech in 2008, and are 7-2 under Restrepo.
“It makes it that much more intense because you know you are going into confernece,” Restrepo said. “But that’s what it’s all about. That’s why you play the game.”
Follow me @eyeamtruth