Hitting .271 in the match, the No. 14-ranked West Virginia University volleyball team captured a 3-1 victory over Big 12 foe Oklahoma on Friday evening, at McCasland Field House, in Norman, Oklahoma. WVU (8-8) topped OU (3-9) in set scores of 25-21, 25-20, 25-27 and 25-20.
With tonight’s win, the Mountaineers have now won a program-best eight conference matches, ending their fall season with an 8-8 overall mark. West Virginia also earned a series split with Oklahoma for the first time since 2017 and defeated the Sooners in Norman for the first time in program history.
“Tonight’s win was huge,” sixth-year coach Reed Sunahara said. “We finished 8-8, and that is a program best for us. It’s a big step in the right direction. We also played all 16 matches this fall, and I thought that was huge. I’m proud of our players for being able to do that.
“Everyone stepped up their game tonight. They were committed to getting better and making it happen. They met this morning after practice and said ‘hey, we are going to finish strong. We are going to do this.’ Hats off to them. It was great to see them execute at a high level, and they didn’t let anything stop them.”
A pair of Mountaineers hit above .450 in the match, with redshirt senior middle blocker Audrey Adams notching double-digit kills in the process. Adams registered 11 kills with no errors on 20 total attacks for a team-best .550 hitting efficiency, while senior middle blocker Briana Lynch hit .474, totaling nine kills with no errors on 19 attacks.
Additionally, junior outside hitter Natali Petrova led the team in kills with 15 swings, while sophomore middle blocker Emmy Ogogor tied Adams with 11 to round out the Mountaineers in double figures.
“The middles had a great match,” Sunahara said. “They all hit for a high percentage. And credit to our outside hitters for putting the ball away. Lacey is the quarterback of this team, and she made it all happen. She set a good game. She put our hitters in position to score. It was a great team effort.”
Junior setter Lacey Zerwas dished out 46 of WVU’s 49 assists, adding six digs and a pair of block assists in the match.
Ogogor also led the squad’s blocking efforts with a career-high five total blocks, while Lynch added four block assists to the scoresheet.
Senior libero Alexa Hasting led the floor defense with 17 digs. Freshman outside hitter/defensive specialist Sky Stokes also notched double-digits for the ninth time this season, digging 14 balls – two shy of a career high. Petrova had nine digs on the evening and was one shy of her seventh career double-double.
“The defense stepped up tonight, and we were seeing our hitters hit better because of it,” Sunahara said. “We dug more balls than last night, which helped us transition into our offense. The defense started it, and the hitters ended it. It was good to see where we could score points and make a difference.”
Additionally, Hasting and Petrova served up two service aces apiece, while redshirt sophomore defensive specialist Marielena Somoza, sophomore defensive specialist Natalie Winter and Zerwas each had one.
WVU capped the day hitting .271. The Mountaineers registered 56 kills on 140 total attempts with seven and a half team blocks and 59 digs. Guewe Diouf had 28 kills to lead the Sooners, who hit .267 with 58 kills and eight team blocks.
With West Virginia holding a 2-0 lead in the match, Oklahoma won an extended third set, 27-25, to force a fourth. The Sooners reached set point off a kill from Diouf, as the Mountaineers took a timeout to regroup, trailing 24-23.
Freshman middle blocker Meghan Dombrowski placed the ball through the OU block on the next play, but the ball went long, giving the Sooners the advantage they needed to win the set. However, Sunahara challenged a touch on the play, and the call was overturned. Dombrowski was awarded the kill, keeping the Mountaineers’ hopes alive with the set tied at 24-all. Both teams exchanged service errors to knot the frame once again, but consecutive kills from Oklahoma put the set away at 27-25 for the third-set victory.
West Virginia used a 10-2 scoring run in the fourth to jump out to a 16-9 lead and never looked back. An Oklahoma block brought the Sooners within one late in the frame at 20-19, but the Mountaineers went on to score five of the last six points for the 25-20 fourth-set win and 3-1 triumph in the match.
Next up, WVU will return to action next semester following the NCAA’s approval to move fall championships to spring 2021. The adjustments are being made due to the COVID-19 pandemic.