Sooner Spikers Stop Aggies' Streak

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Oklahoma volleyball team rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat No. 25 Texas A&M 3-2 (26-30, 26-30, 30-27, 30-24, 15-13)) in its Big 12 season opener in College Station. It marked OU's first victory over a ranked team this season.

The Sooners improved to 8-2 on the season and snapped Texas A&M's perfect record as the Aggies fell to 10-1. It also marked OU's second straight victory in College Station as the Sooners opened the 2006 Big 12 slate with a victory over the Aggies last season.

"It was an incredible effort by our squad tonight," head coach Santiago Restrepo said. "We didn't take control in the first two games like we should have. That was the difference in the final three games."

Mariana Blum and Bridget Laplante led the Sooner offense with 24 and 21 kills, respectively. Blum notched her seventh double-double of the season with 13 digs while Laplante recorded her fifth of the year with 14 digs. Laplante also led the team with a .354 hitting percentage while setter Julie Chester guided the offense with 65 assists.

Libero Hannah Sharp led the defensive effort as she collected a match-high 24 digs while Sarah Weiland added six block assists and Anna Stadel recorded five block assists and one solo block at the net.

In the first game, the Sooners jumped out to a strong lead after a 5-0 rally pushed OU's lead to 12-6. However, A&M battled back, closing the gap at 17-16, and tying it up at 20-20. The Aggies took their first lead of the game at 22-21 following a TAMU block and pushed the lead to 23-21 after an OU error, which forced the Sooners to take a timeout.

The Aggies came out firing after the timeout as they went on a 6-2 run to push to game point at 29-23. The Sooners used a Blum kill, Laplante kill and Francie Ekwerekwu kill to close the gap 29-26, but OU couldn't hang on as A&M's kill by Kelly Stanton ended the game at 30-26 an gave TAMU the 1-0 lead.

The Oklahoma offense struggled in the first game with a .136 hitting percentage and 10 attack errors. The Aggies recorded a .244 hitting percentage behind Sarah Ammerman and Kelly Stanton's five kills.

Similar to the first game, Oklahoma led a majority of the second game. The Sooners led at 14-9, their biggest advantage of the frame, but the Aggies kept chipping away. TAMU took it's the lead at 17-16 and never looked back. The Sooners closed the gap at 25-24 after successive Blum and Weiland kills. However, the Aggies went on a 4-2 run for game point at 29-26. OU's Blum recorded a service error to give the Aggies the game at 30-26 and the 2-0 lead heading into the break.

The Sooner offense was strong in game two as it recorded a .341 hitting percentage behind Blum's six kills. However, TAMU's offense was better as it recorded a .429 hitting percentage in game two behind five kills each by Mary Batis and Ammerman.

Oklahoma took control in the third frame as it took the lead at 7-6 and never trailed again as the Aggies cut it to within one but the Sooners held on to the lead in the third game, winning 30-27 and forcing a game four. Leading the way in game three were OU's Laplante and Blum each notching five kills apiece.

The Sooners carried momentum over to game four as they won, 30-24, to force the final and deciding game five. The Sooners at 6-5 and never trailed again in the game. OU also saw its biggest lead of the match as it led 24-16 in the fourth frame. Blum once again led the Sooner offense with six kills in the fourth frame while the Sooner defense held the Aggies to a .098 hitting percentage behind Hannah Sharp's six digs and Stadel and Weiland's block assists (two each).

The Oklahoma offense ran off a 4-0 run in the fifth game, spurred by Mariana Blum's three consecutive aces as the Sooners took the 13-7 lead. A&M responded with a 4-0 run of its own to close the gap, 13-11, and force OU to call a timeout. The Aggies and Sooners each added another point to push it to match point at 14-12. A Texas A&M kill made it 14-13, but Bridget Laplante tallied the match point with a kill as the Sooners earned the win.