courtesy @TulsaVolleyball on Twitter

Tulsa volleyball picks up pace post-COVID

Deck: Sports writer Callie Hummel summarizes the Hurricane’s season as of now.

University of Tulsa’s volleyball season was supposed to open with three games at the Husker Invitational in Lincoln, Nebraska, however, COVID-19 complications required the team to drop out of the tournament. After only playing ten games during the 2020 season for a 2-8 record, the entrance of COVID implications into the 2021 season created a slow start for the team.

With no pre-season tournament to warm up as a team and a lineup still affected by COVID, Tulsa went up against Sam Houston on September 3 during the Maverick Classic, taking the match to a tiebreaker but losing in the fifth game making the match score 2-3. In collegiate volleyball, teams play best of five games to make up a match, each being rally scoring to 25 points except for the fifth game, the tiebreaker, which is to 15. The fifth game is only played if teams are tied 2-2 after the fourth game.

Just hours later in that same tournament, Tulsa quickly picked up the pace in their next game against UT Arlington making the tie breaking game unnecessary with a solid 3-1 match win. In a hard fought first game, Tulsa won at a close 27-25. For their third game of the tournament, Tulsa shut down North Texas with a match score of 3-0 and individual games at 25-22, 25-16 and 25-23. Kayley Cassady, a Junior on Tulsa’s team, dominated the matches with 43 total offensive attacks.

Cassady stands out as a powerhouse on the front line as an outside hitter, already with 138 total kills, surpassing her 112 from last season when she led the team in kills. With 66 more kills than the next hitter, Callie Cook, it seems as though she’ll keep this ranking in the 2021 season as well.

On the defensive side, the team’s libero and defensive specialist, freshman Marta Pecalli, leads the team in total digs at 163. Of those digs, 22 were during their most recent game against Southern Illinois, helping the team get their 3-1 win.

Cook, a graduate student and middle blocker, had a record breaking season last year, surpassing the all-time career blocks record that was previously set at 348 (Tulsa Athletics). Leading the team in total blocks at 34, she’s continuing to increase that new record this season.
While there are stand out players on the offensive and defensive line, the team’s aggregate chemistry is something spectators notice as soon as the match starts. With cheers after every point in their favor or huddling up with every point against, it’s obvious that the players on the court have each other’s backs. Off the court, players on the bench choose to disregard the chairs set up for them, opting instead to stand and cheer on their teammates playing, enhancing the community spirit even more.

The team has currently played nine matches and finished with an overall record of 5-4, and 25 games with a 20-15 record. In the upcoming matches, Tulsa is at home playing against South Florida (6-5) on Oct. 1, and UCF (6-5) on Oct. 3, both at 1 p.m. at the University of Tulsa’s Reynolds Center.

Post Author: Callie Hummel