PROVO, Utah — Oklahoma has said this year was a process. That the team it put on the court to start the season wouldn’t be the same one at the end.
The Sooners are starting to prove themselves correct after winning a five-set thriller over Arizona State in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah.
This was the fourth time this season OU has had a match go to five sets. OU coach Santiago Restrepo said it couldn’t have gone any other way.
“This was a big battle between a Pac 12 and Big 12 team,” Restrepo said. “We happened to come through on the fifth set — our team fought like champions. I thought Arizona State did a great job fighting throughout every point — every single point. Jason Watson has done a terrific job with that team and getting them to where they are today and into the NCAA Tournament; hats off to Arizona State.”
Oklahoma advances to the NCAA Second Round for the fourth time in seven years and fourth time under the helm of Restrepo after tonight’s victory. It will face No. 12 BYU at 8 tonight.
The Sooners used a dominant performance from its front line to knock off the Sun Devils. Senior outside hitter Morgan Reynolds led the way with a career-best 21 kills on the night. Junior Sallie McLaurin totaled 15, while sophomore Tara Dunn added 14 of her own.
Reynolds’ offensive output is the second-best performance for a Sooner in OU postseason history, joining forces with Mariana Blum and Patrice Arrington, who each knocked down 21 kills against Florida A&M in 2007, and Houston in 1997, respectively.
“I couldn’t do this without this team. I couldn’t do it without Julia [Doyle], our passers and everything else,” Reynolds said. “Everything kind of came together at the right time and it just worked well for me. Obviously, I give the credit to my team.”
Along with their presence on the front line, both Reynolds and McLaurin broke an OU NCAA individual match record with six block assists a piece against Arizona State. Doyle also had a career performance with 51 assists — the first of her career — to ink the ninth 40-or-more assist match of her freshman campaign.
Senior libero Maria Fernanda added 27 digs for the 10th 20-plus dig performance of her senior season. She now owns 2,190 digs throughout her four-year career, for the OU record.
“It’s the NCAA tournament, so you have to expect everything,” Fernanda said. “Everyone is going for it and everyone is fighting for it. Obviously, if you win, you go onto the Sweet 16. We’re going to sleep, get some rest and get up in the morning and work.”