Setter Kylee McLaughlin suffered an undisclosed injury in Oklahoma’s loss to No. 4 Texas last Saturday.
The injury forced her to leave the match prematurely, and because of that McLaughlin was expected to sit out of the Sooners bout with Kansas State Wednesday night.
But that was before the Sooners found themselves facing a 2-0 series deficit in the match.
At that point, Oklahoma was in need of a spark — McLaughlin was there to provide it.
“Kylee looked at me after the second (set) and was like ‘let’s go,’” head coach Lindsey Gray-Walton said. “When your team, your players have that belief in their ability…at that moment I had to trust my player. She’s an ultimate competitor.”
The decision paid off for Gray-Walton and the Sooners as Oklahoma managed to force a decisive set five with McLaughlin back at setter. McCasland Field House grew louder and louder as the fifth set neared its start, but if the night had proven anything for the Sooners, it’s that this win wasn’t going to come easily.
Kansas State took a 10-4 lead early in set five. However, just when the Wildcats seemed to have finally put away the Sooners, Oklahoma’s offense exploded for a 10-4 run. Tied at 14, back-to-back kills from outside hitter Ashylnn Dunbar sealed the victory for the Sooners.
The win improves Oklahoma’s season record to 12-5 and Big 12 record to 4-2.
“They believed in themselves,” Gray-Walton said. “You can pack it in a lot of junctures, whether it's after the second set, after you go down 5-0 or 9-3, there were a lot of times that we could've packed it in, but this team just keeps deciding not to. This team keeps fighting and we continue to keep talking about that. I get goosebumps and am full of elation for just their belief in themselves to do it and to come back. ... We started seeing smart volleyball-playing by our players after the first and second sets."