Savannah Davison rose over the net and struck the ball down the middle for a game-clinching kill.
With a wide smile painted on her face, the redshirt senior outside blocker ran to the sideline and gave each of her teammates a celebratory high-five as the 756 fans inside McCasland Field House went wild over the Sooners’ (7-7, 1-2 Big 12) 3-1 win against Kansas State (9-5, 0-3) on Friday night.
Davison, one of the lone veterans on the team, was pivotal in helping Oklahoma rally from a 3-0 deficit in set four. With back-to-back kills, bringing her total to 15 on the game, the New Mexico State transfer carried the Sooners to their first conference win with a clinching 25-20 set four win.
The redshirt senior, who is second on the team with 155 kills, has not only provided offense to the Sooners this season, but also veteran leadership to help Oklahoma finish in big-time games. She helped OU outscore Kansas State 13-9 in the final moments of the fourth match.
“I mean we've struggled (to get to 20 points) before,” Davison said. “So, being able to cap out, especially these games 25-20, 25-23, and 25-20 (means a lot). Again, like we've really put an emphasis on practice (this) week being at 22 and just finding those three points just to finish it off, so I feel like that really came through for us, especially on the sides.”
In the first set, Oklahoma struggled to defend Kansas State sophomore outside hitter Aliyah Carter, who had 16 kills in the game. The Wildcats garnered 15 kills in the set, which resulted in a 25-23 win against the Sooners.
Freshman outside-hitter/middle blocker Megan Wilson and redshirt senior outside blocker Paige Anderson were tasked with shutting her down, however. After struggling in the first set, Anderson garnered six of the Sooners’ 12 blocks. Wilson also put in a block with her team-high 15 kills.
“I thought we started really tough,” head coach Lindsey Gray-Walton said. “That's why they were able to kind of go off (in the first set) when they did. That’s when we put more pace and more movement on our balls and probably locationally hit some spots that put them in tougher tougher situations.
“If you can eliminate an attacker in certain rotations and make it easier for defense... we can do transition (offense). And, that was a big focus for us this week, in practice, as this is going to be the gap right here, and how hard do you want to work in transition plays. And tonight we saw that work pay off.”
Oklahoma’s younger contributors rose to the occasion once again in the second and third sets against Kansas State. Freshman setter Peyton Dunn, a two-time Big 12 Rookie of the Week this season, accumulated 48 assists and three kills. So far this season, Dunn has tallied at least 35 assists in every single game and seven games with 40-plus assists.
The freshman setter helped assert the Sooners’ offense in set three, guiding them on a 4-0 run for a 25-23 win. Wilson, who leads OU with 205 kills this season, had the match kill in set two, which capped OU’s 6-0 run with a 25-20 win.
As Gray-Walton and the Sooners prepare for a quick turnaround against Kansas State at 4 p.m. on Saturday in Norman, OU is prepared to bring the same intensity it did Friday evening.
“If our middles don't work as hard as they did tonight and work their tushes off, (we don’t win),” Gray Walton said. “And, you know, tomorrow's a new day. Kansas State’s a good team. They're gonna come back out, and we have a new fight to take care of tomorrow.”