NORMAN — Any time the Oklahoma volleyball team takes the court, it likes to leave its opponents with a distinct impression. With a towering front line, they want teams to be afraid.
“I think people will understand when we come up there swinging, we mean to kill,” sophomore Kierra Holst said
That may have been the case Saturday when the Sooners hosted West Virginia at McCasland Field House. They ran through the visiting team in straight sets and definitely left the Mountaineers with something to think about the next time they face off.
“I thought the team played really great,” Madison Ward said. “We had some awesome defense from all of our players. With blocking, we had a lot of great touches and I think we shut them down.”
The Sooners (18-4, 6-2 Big 12) came out the gate controlling the action at the net. Holst, Ward, Keila Rodriguez and Sallie McLaurin tried to put divots in the floor with the ferocity they were sending shots back at the Mountaineers.
“It’s extremely important because when we do that we assert our dominance,” Holst said. “We are like, this is our game, we have control of it. You may get your kills every now and then. But overall, we are the ones who want to put the ball away.”
OU won the first set 25-15 behind six kills from McLaurin and 11 assists by Julia Doyle.
Oklahoma didn’t take the foot off the pedal in the second set. Leading by three, the Sooners scored five straight points to take a 15-7 advantage. It forced West Virginia coach Jill Kramer to take a time-out.
Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, the time-out didn’t help. Oklahoma raced to a 25-14 win to take 2-0 lead into the intermission.
“That’s one of the things we talked about, not letting teams back into the game and keeping the intensity,” OU coach Santiago Restrepo said. “I thought we did a great job of that.”
The final set was just a replay of the first two. West Virginia was unable to do anything near the net as Oklahoma’s front line smashed anything that came across.
But it was the Sooners’ active defense that flustered the Mountaineers. When they were able to get a shot past the net, Taylor Migliazzo, Rodriguez and Doyle dug out the potential kills and gave their front line players a chance to notch a point for the home team.
West Virginia made a run in the third set and closed gap to 23-20 as Hannah Shreve and Evyn McCoy began to have success at the net.
But when McCoy served it into the net, it gave the Sooners a chance at game point. And it was Ward who put it away with a spike attempt that was blocked out of bounds. The Sooners won 25-20.
McLaurin led the Sooners with 14 kills while Doyle had 37 assists and six digs. Ward was a stat filler with 11 kills, three digs and two blocked shots.
As a team, the Sooners collected 45 kills to the Mountaineers’ 27.
“We are blessed to have so many tall players and people who aren’t afraid to take a swing,” Holst said. “Every time we went up there, we had a mindset to kill it.”
Since losing to Kansas on Oct. 9, Oklahoma has now won four straight matches. This was their second sweep in that time span.
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