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OU volleyball: Sooners looking to bounce back in Indiana Invitational

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Sophomore outside hitter Sarah Sanders hits the ball against TCU on Nov. 9.

Last week wasn’t exactly the start Oklahoma was looking for to begin its 2019 campaign.

The Sooners concluded the Colorado State Invitational with a lackluster 1-2 record. Oklahoma’s two losses both came in 3-0 sweeps. In those sweeps, the Sooners weren’t just outscored — they were out-killed, out-assisted, out-blocked, had more errors and fielded worse hitting percentages than their opponent. Simply put, they were outplayed. 

However, despite the negatives, Oklahoma still left the Invitational with some positives.

For starters, senior outside hitter Ashlynn Dunbar was named to the Ram Volleyball Classic All-Tournament team after tallying 35 kills in three matches. 

“Personally I was a bit surprised,” Dunbar said. “I thought our team performance was good, but I don’t think I had my greatest performance, but it’s exciting to know that we have so many pieces that will improve this year.”

Coach Lindsey Gray-Walton spoke highly of Dunbar’s play.

“She get better every match and every set, quite honestly,” she said. “She stayed really positive and found ways to score, she challenged herself to become a better outside in all three matches and be a senior leader for us.”

On top of that, Gray-Walton was impressed with how her team battled back in the tournament. 

“I think we found out where we’re at and what we need to work on,” she said. “What I was proud of is that we never laid down. There are definitely times in a volleyball set or match that you feel like there’s no way we’re going to come back — that didn’t come into play for us this weekend.”

Oklahoma shifts its focus this week towards the Indiana Invitational in Bloomington, Indiana where the Sooners will square-off against the Oregon State Beavers (2-0) at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5, the Yale Bulldogs (0-0) at 11 a.m. on Friday and the Indiana Hoosiers (3-1) at 6 p.m. also on Friday. 

Oregon State is coming off a 11-21 regular season finish, but appears to be in a bounce-back season as they swept both of their opponents in this Oregon Classic last week. The Beavers are led by outside hitters Chloe Brown and Cecilee Max-Brown who were named to the all-tournament team at the Oregon Classic. 

Yale has yet to begin its season, but are coming off an impressive year as they made the NCAA tournament and finished 19-5. The defending Ivy League conference championships were ranked No. 2 in the conference’s preseason poll. Yale also returns three conference selections in setter Frances Arnautou, outside hitter Ellis DeJardin and middle blocker Samantha Bray.

Indiana finished last year with a 16-15 record, but they’ve started this season off right by winning three of their first four games. In their only loss, Indiana fell to Santa Clara in three sets, but each set was only decided by three points or less. Indiana will give OU another strong test as they close out the Indiana Invitational. 

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