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Monday, November 30, 2009

OU headed to NCAA tourny despite Thanksgiving losses JAMES CORLEY Daily Satff Writer

Despite losing the final two games of the regular season, the OU volleyball squad is headed to the NCAA tournament. The Sooners lost the last pair of matches against No. 2 Texas Wednesday at home and against No. 7 Iowa State Saturday on the road, losing in three sets in both matches. But OU’s 18-11 season, 11-9 in the Big 12, was enough to get the Sooners an invitation to the postseason. Oklahoma will face No. 16 Southern California (21-9) Friday in Los Angeles. “I am very proud of how hard this team has worked to get to the NCAA tournament,” OU coach Santiago Restrepo said. “The team is more mature this year, and having last season under our belts really helped in critical matches this year.”

Against Texas Wednesday, the powerful Sooner defense was all but absent, allowing the Longhorns to hit a .423 attack percentage in the match. The Sooners managed a low .116 attack percentage and committed 22 attack errors. OU also committed three service errors and only three blocks. “When you play tentative volleyball, you’re never going to win,” Restrepo said. “We had a few bright moments, but for the most part we just played hesitant.” Sophomore Caitlin Higgins and junior Francie Ekwerekwu had nine kills each for the Sooners, followed by sophomore Suzy Boulavsky with eight. On Saturday, the Sooners weren’t much better. OU committed 19 attack errors and six service errors against Iowa State and hit a low .145 attack percentage. The Sooner defense did improve, matching the Cyclones toeto-toe in digs, 52-54.

Boulavsky led the Sooners on offense with 10 kills and six digs, followed by senior Bridget Laplante with nine kills and seven digs. Brianne Barker, sophomore setter, notched her 22nd double-double this season by earning 30 assists and 11 digs in the loss. With the pair of losses, the Sooners finished tied for fourth in the conference with Baylor and Texas A&M. OU beat the Bears both times they played and split the series 1-1 with the Aggies. “I am very excited about going back to the NCAA Tournament,” said Laplante, who also went in 2006 and 2007. “This is a great way to end my career at Oklahoma. This is the first time for our sophomores and freshmen to go to the Big Dance, and I want this to be a great experience for them. We have all worked so hard this season, and it’s exciting to see that work pay off.”

MARCIN RUTKOWSKI/THE DAILY

Francie Ekwerekwu, junior middle blocker, spikes the ball during Wednesday’s game against Texas. The Sooners fell to Texas 3-0.

Mascots take away from Sooner victory For Sooner fans, Saturday afternoon was almost perfect. The highlights were endless. The performance on the field was dominating, spoiling Oklahoma State’s hopes of a BCS berth. And when former Sooner wideout Corey Wilson, who was injured in an off-season car accident, made his way onto Owen field with the aid of a walker, it was inspiring. All things considered, it was a near perfect way to close a regular season that was in many aspects, forgettable. Unfortunately, it was one small, not so great moment that stuck out to me. For at least the third time this season, STEVEN mascots Boomer and Sooner decided JONES jumping into a crowd of students who are supposed to be watching a football game and crowd surfing into President Boren’s suite was a good idea. I understand it’s all in good fun, and it’s possible that I’m in the minority in my opinion, but I have real reasons to explain why seeing two horses in the crowd really rubs me the wrong way. The first and most obvious problem with the mascots’ antics is they distract from the game. The mascot’s job is to add to the game experience, not take away from it. Although Boomer and Sooner did wait until the game was somewhat in hand, they decided to make their move while OU was on defense. The students did a surprisingly good job of keeping the stadium loud, but one lapse came when the mascots decided to draw attention to themselves. The first time the mascots took a ride up the stands, it wasn’t a big deal. It had some novelty to it, and when President Boren welcomed them into his suite, it was kind of a cool moment. However, now the mascots are like the unpopular kid who told one good joke, and once it got a laugh, told it over and over again. In general, I’m satisfied with the mascots. They tend to do a good job of straddling the line between entertaining and obnoxious. The crowd surfing, however, is no longer cool. If my experience is any indication, it won’t be long before students start letting the mascots drop, simply to avoid the smell of the sweaty mascot costumes. The 2009 football season will be one to forget for OU fans. After the Sooners began the season as a favorite to reappear in the BCS national championship game, an abnormal amount of injuries combined with youth and inexperience led to a 7-5 season. In 2010, though, the Sooner football team will start fresh. OU will do its best to erase the memory of 2009 and get back to its winning ways. The mascots should do the same. So please, for the sake of student fans everywhere, don’t let crowd surfing become a tradition. Let it die with the 2009 season. Steven Jones is a language arts education senior.

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The Oklahoma Daily  

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Oklahoma Daily  

Monday, November 30, 2009

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