NORMAN — Coach Santiago Restrepo’s Oklahoma volleyball team is headed to Portland, Ore., to face Pacific on Friday and Portland State and Brigham Young on Saturday.
If all goes really well, the Sooners will exit their road trip an unbeaten 7-0 in the young season.
After what happened Tuesday night at Howard McCasland Field House, it’s not so crazy a thought.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Restrepo said.
So, too, should his team, coming off its 25-22, 25-22, 25-21 straight-set victory over Arkansas.
“I think it’s a huge win,” preseason All-American middle blocker Sallie McLaurin said.
OU had enjoyed recent success against the Razorbacks, yet not in straight sets. Further, how they made it happen Tuesday should be reason for even more confidence.
In the opening set, OU led 15-7 before enduring a 20-20 tie. From there, the Sooners won five of seven points to end it.
In the middle set, it was a 16-9 edge that was whittled down to 20-19 before the Sooners won five of eight points to end it.
In the last, there was no big lead, but OU still held a 19-18 edge before running off six of nine points to end the match.
“We played in crunch time better than they did and that is a sign of good character, very good confidence in ourselves and very good chemistry,” Restrepo said.
Also, what it looked like on the court may be a pretty good model for the Sooners going forward.
A couple of stat lines told the story.
One, OU hit .259 as a team, which is plenty good, yet even a tad misleading, because the Sooners hit a stratospheric .425 as a team in the first set and a really, really good .333 in the third. Along with it, OU committed just 12 attack errors to Arkansas’ 21.
The Sooners (4-0) were putting the ball away at best and keeping points going at worst. They were not giving points away.
Next, OU finished with 61 digs, including 18 from Eden Williams. Defensively, the Sooners were getting balls back into the hands of setter Julia Doyle and their hitters.
Williams actually credited the hitters for her stellar defense.
“I give a ton of credit to our block. Without them, I have to do a lot of reading,” she said. “But they had great set-ups … If they’re on, I’m on.”
Also on were Doyle and McLaurin. With the help of her setter, McLaurin finished the match with 31 swings that resulted in 13 kills, only one error and a hearty .387 hitting percentage.
Many of those kills came via quick sets.
“As long as it works, I want to keep doing it,” McLaurin said. “Throwing in some higher sets would be great, but why not keep doing it if it’s working.”
Against the Razorbacks (3-1), the Sooners had just about everything working. Now they get to take their game west and see what happens.
“I’m excited,” Restrepo said, “about this weekend.”
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