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OU volleyball: Sooners can't hold on after 1st set win as Kansas State completes 3-1 comeback

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Megan Wilson

Megan Wilson serves the ball during the game against Kansas State on Oct. 2.

Entering Saturday’s match against Kansas State (10-5, 1-3 Big 12), Oklahoma coach Lindsey Gray-Walton wanted her team to come out with energy and preparedness to accrue back-to-back wins in the weekend series.

Instead, the Sooners (7-8, 1-3 Big 12) looked like a distant memory of the team that beat the Wildcats on Friday night. After losing 3-1 on Saturday and falling under .500 for the third time this season, Gray-Walton and OU will have to go back to the drawing board again.

Notably, Oklahoma defeated Kansas State 25-19 in the first set of the matchup. Offensively, the Sooners had 12 kills — two more than the Wildcats at the time — and looked like they were carrying over momentum from Friday’s game. Freshman middle blocker/outside hitter Megan Wilson started the match with three kills, giving the Sooners a massive offensive boost on the left side.

Once Kansas State made adjustments to its lineup, however, OU had no answer defensively. The Wildcats, from set two and on, outscored the Sooners 48 to 34 in kills and had a dominating .229 hitting percentage. Before Saturday, Oklahoma had outscored its opponents in seven of 12 games in total kills.

“The matchups they had in set one were the same that they had last night,” Gray-Walton said. “Kansas State definitely spun it, and then the matchups in set two allowed for them to have some success, and then we just couldn't get the matchup correct.

"And, part of that is how we want to start because of serving strength (and) the amount of subs that we use in our lineup, which is also something we probably should look at just with how we’re not really point-scoring well enough right now. But again, credit to K-State. That was a team that was 0-3 and hungry for a win. They woke up this morning with no worries about what happened yesterday."

In the second set, the Wildcats turned up the heat on the Sooners. This season, Oklahoma ranks 42nd nationally in blocks per set but it couldn’t use that to its advantage against Kansas State, which had 20 kills in the second set alone. Redshirt senior outside hitter Paige Anderson was the lone Oklahoma defender with five blocks, which was half of the Sooners’ total. Despite her efforts, she couldn't stop Kansas State from closing out OU 25-22 in set two.

“They went after it today, even after losing the first," Gray-Walton said. "Their response was way better than ours after the second set, and for the young group  — and we don't like to give that card to them often — you should expect somebody to fight back. And when they do, how are we going to respond?”

Redshirt senior outside hitter Savannah Davison was shut down for nine kills against the Wildcats. On Friday the redshirt senior had 15 kills, which was the team high. Alongside Davison, Wilson only had 11 kills in the matchup. That’s the  second lowest scoring game in the past five matchups for the freshman, who leads OU with 231 kills this season. 

Both players’ offensive production was missed Saturday, as Kansas State defeated the Sooners 25-19 in set three and 25-16 in set four. In the final set alone, the Wildcats raced out to a 10-2 lead and OU had no response despite constantly rotating.

“Sometimes subbing allows you to (find momentum),” Gray-Walton said. “Megan Wilson wasn't performing at that point in time. She was not killing the ball in those rotations. But if you look at her line, she's okay. She could have been better. … We just kind of needed a little spark and that's kind of why you're making the changes.”

As the Sooners turn their focus to TCU at 2 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8, in Fort Worth for their third conference series of the season, Gray-Walton is looking to improve the team’s offensive consistency.

“For a matter of a lot of things we want to short ball pass, we want to rhythm attack, and kind of create some competition on the backside,” Gray-Walton said. “I think our team knows what we left out there tonight and will be better next week.”

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