Oklahoma defeats Arizona State in opening round

(Photo by Erin Tew/BYU Graphics)

PROVO, Utah – Kicking off the opening round of the NCAA DI Women's Volleyball Championships, Oklahoma defeated Arizona State 3-2 (20-25, 25-19, 25-18, 19-25, 15-13) Friday night at Elaine Michaelis Court.

Morgan Reynolds led the Sooners with 21 kills and Julia Doyle totaled 51 assists for Oklahoma. Sooner libero Maria Fernanda led all players with 27 digs, and Alexis Pinson had a game-high eight blocks for ASU.

"This was a big battle between a Pac-12 and a Big 12 team," Oklahoma head coach Santiago Restrepo said. "We happened to come through on the fifth set, and we fought like champions. It was a great win, but tomorrow is a different day and it brings a different challenge."

Arizona State head coach Jason Watson credited his players for their hard work throughout the season.

"I'm incredibly proud of our student-athletes," Watson said. "This has been an enormous accomplishment for us, to get to this point. I'm sad that it's over, but I certainly don't want anybody to minimize the amount of effort and work it has taken to get to this point.

Arizona State had control of the match early, building an 11-4 advantage on the strength of a 7-0 run. The Sooners regained composure but were never able to pull within four points as the Sun Devils won the set 25-20. Erica Wilson had six kills in the opening set for Arizona State while teammates Macey Gardner and Whitney Follette had four kills apiece. ASU also had two service aces in the set. Sallie McLaurin led the way for Oklahoma with five kills in Set 1.

Oklahoma responded in the second set with a quick start, working up a 15-8 lead midway through the set. ASU cut the lead to 16-13, but Oklahoma regained momentum after a timeout and won the set 25-19. Reynolds finished it off for the Sooners with two kills in a row to even the match at 1-1. Reynolds had four kills in the set while her teammate Tara Dunn recorded five.

Two consecutive service aces by Fernanda highlighted a 10-0 run for Oklahoma in the third set. Pinson finally ended the drought for ASU with a kill that brought the score to 12-6 in favor of the Sooners. Follette had three kills during a spurt that brought the Sun Devils within two points at 14-12, but Oklahoma prevailed, taking the set 25-17 to go up 2-1 in the match. Reynolds added five more kills during Set 3 and Fernanda had 10 digs in the set.

Pinson and Nora Tuioti-Mariner teamed up for a pair of blocks that gave ASU a 9-6 advantage before the first timeout of Set 4. Oklahoma never seriously challenged ASU for the remainder of the set and the Sun Devils tied the match at 2-2 with a 25-19 win. Reynolds had another five kills during the set, but it wasn't enough as the Sun Devils forced a fifth set.

The Sooners led 5-2 early in the final set, but a couple nice kills from Wilson helped ASU take an 8-7 lead before the teams switched sides. With the score tied 9-9, Arizona State showed great defensive poise and energized the crowd after Gardner capped off a long rally with a kill. Another kill by Gardner put ASU up 11-9, but a pair of kills from Reynolds helped Oklahoma regain the lead at 12-11. The Sooners had a chance to win serving 14-12, but Gardner responded with another kill for ASU. A strong spike by Reynolds was enough to finish things off on the next rally, however, as Oklahoma claimed the set and match.