The West Virginia volleyball team will compete in its first Big 12 match in a doubleheader Friday and Saturday against the Oklahoma Sooners.
WVU (10-1) jumped out to a 10-match non-conference win streak to begin the season but lost in its most recent match against the No. 20 Penn State Nittany Lions.
West Virginia head coach Reed Sunahara believes their match against the Nittany Lions, even though it was a loss, was helpful in preparing them for conference play.
“Penn State is a great team with great tradition, and they just kept coming at us and putting us at a disadvantage,” Sunahara said. “It was very challenging for us and we learned a lot, like we need to play better defense, we need to pass the ball better, and we have to attack the ball better.”
Although the offense struggled against the Nittany Lions, it has been an essential part to the Mountaineers’ success this season. Senior middle blocker Briana Lynch and senior right side hitter Adrian Ell both surpassed 100 kills so far this season, with 127 and 105, respectively.
Lynch also has a team high 45% hitting percentage and leads the team in blocks with 50.
The leading passer for West Virginia has been its star senior setter Lacey Zerwas, who has recorded 377 assists, finding her teammates early and often throughout the season.
Although offense has been WVU’s strength, many contributors have allowed its defense to be deadly too, with senior defensive specialist Alexa Hasting amassing 153 digs, and freshman middle blocker Madison Page recording 44 blocks.
For Oklahoma (6-5), it enters into these matches on a two-match win streak after winning in four sets against the SMU Mustangs in its last match.
Offensively, the Sooners find production from freshman middle blocker Megan Wilson who has recorded 186 kills on a 24% hitting percentage, as well as 13 service aces.
Oklahoma’s best passer is freshman setter Peyton Dunn who has poured in 434 assists for her team, which is the most by an individual player in the Big 12.
Defensively, the Sooners have many playmakers, including freshman libero Callie Kemohah who has 178 digs, and senior middle blocker Paige Anderson who leads her team with 54 blocks.
Sunahara believes he and his team can slow down the Sooners just by simply focusing on their own side of the court, and how they execute down the stretch.
“We have to control the ball on our own side of the court,” Sunahara said. “We also got to make sure that we hopefully can expose some of their weaknesses and they’re going to try to do the same to us and we got to make sure we’re doing good things that can help us score points.”
The matches are set to take place at the WVU Coliseum and will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday and 5 p.m. on Saturday.