NORMAN — Oklahoma has had its share of problems when facing ranked teams this year. In five matches with top 25 teams, it had a 2-3 record entering this week.
On Wednesday, the Sooners had another chance to prove they belong alongside the nation’s elite when it faced No. 19 Kansas at McCasland Fieldhouse. Yet, despite being one set away from earning the win, Kansas came back to win the match 3-2.
“It’s disappointing,” OU coach Santiago Restrepo said. “A missed opportunity. I keep telling them about the opportunities that you have in this league. You have only a few times that you are going to play against ranked opponents, and you better take care of the opportunities. We didn’t tonight and we let it slip away.”
In only the Sooners’ third fifth set of the season, the energy and excitement it had been playing with was absent. Kansas took full advantage and jumped out to a 8-1 lead.
After an Oklahoma (15-6, 3-2 Big 12) time-out, they came back out and outscored KU (17-2, 5-0) 7-3 to pull within three. They had finally gotten back to the brand of volleyball they have to play to compete with the top teams.
However, it wasn’t enough as Kansas scored four of the next six points to win 15-10 and close out the match.
Oklahoma racked up 54 kills and 11 blocks on the night, despite playing without true freshman Madison Ward for the third straight game after she had shoulder surgery last week. However, KU controlled the beginning and end with 67 kills and 63 assists.
“We were up and down,” Restrepo said. “We didn’t play well in crunch time. And against a team like that, you have to play well in crunch time.”
The Sooners weren’t ready for what the Jayhawks brought to the table in the first set. KU came out throwing down kills and blocks, and OU had very little in the way of an answer as they dropped the set 25-16.