Mizzou Wins a Pair on Opening Day of Tiger Invite

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Sophomore Whitney Little posted 23 kills on .571 hitting on two matches Friday.</i>
Sophomore Whitney Little posted 23 kills on .571 hitting on two matches Friday.

Aug. 24, 2012

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COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Mizzou volleyball program opened its 2012 regular season with a pair of wins on day one of the Tiger Invitational on Friday (Aug. 24) at the Hearnes Center. The Tigers defeated North Florida, 3-0 (25-18, 25-17, 25-19), in the first match of the day and came back to knock off ACC foe Virginia Tech, 3-1 (25-22, 22-25, 25-19, 25-16), to improve to 2-0 on the day. Mizzou will play two more matches tomorrow at day two of the Tiger Invitational as it will compete against Nicholls State at 12:30 p.m. and No. 23 Michigan at 7 p.m. Mizzou and Michigan both finished day one of the tournament undefeated, setting up a possible title match between the two teams tomorrow evening at the Hearnes Center.

"Overall I was impressed with our performance today," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "I was especially impressed with how we came back after dropping the second set to Virginia Tech tonight. The way the team rallied and played coming out of intermission gives me a lot of confidence moving forward. There are still a lot of areas which we need to improve, so I am anxious to get back out tomorrow and play two more good teams."

On the day, there were several standouts, including sophomore middle blocker Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) who hit a team-best .571 on the day with 23 kills and a team-best seven blocks. She closed her evening by tallying a career-best 14 kills on .571 hitting in the Tigers' win over Virginia Tech. A third-team All-American last year, junior Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) also had a great day, leading the Tigers with 28 kills on .303 hitting while adding 10 digs over the two matches. Newcomer Taylor Simpson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) posted 20 kills and 18 digs in her first to matches as a Tiger as well. She hit .273 over the two matches.

All-SEC Preseason pick Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) was phenomenal as well, spreading 75 assists (10.71) while guiding the team to a .327 attack percentage. She also tallied 22 digs over the two matches as she posted a pair of double-doubles while adding eight kills on .727 hitting. Defensively, sophomore libero Jade Hayes (Ozark, Mo.) led the Tigers with 28 digs, including a career-best 17 digs in the night cap against Virginia Tech. She also committed just two reception errors on 34 chances, good for a .941 service reception percentage.

The Tigers opened the day with a dominating win over a feisty North Florida team that took No. 23 Michigan to four sets in a close match later in the day. Mizzou opened with a 25-18 set win in the first and took the second and third in similar fashion, 25-17 and 25-19. Henning led the Tigers with 12 kills on .296 hitting while Little was sensational in the middle, hitting .571 with nine kills and three blocks. Kreklow spread 31 assists and tallied 11 digs while Hayes pulled in 11 in the match. Sophomore Melissa Hartsel (Concordia, Kan.) earned her first career start on Friday and tallied three kills on five attacks and finished with a match-high five blocks. The Tigers limited UNF to .000 hitting, posting 11.0 blocks in the match.

The nightcap was a tight match before intermission as both teams took a set with a 25-22 final (Mizzou win the first, Virginia Tech the second). But following the intermission, the Tigers came out and shut the door on the Hokies, winning the last two sets in convincing fashion, 25-19 and 25-16. Little was a force again for the Tigers in the middle with a career-best 14 kills on .571 hitting. Henning finished with 16 kills and Simpson added 12 while pulling in 13 digs, good for her first career double-double. She hit .333 in the win. Kreklow was great again, spreading 44 assists while guiding the team on a .349 attack percentage. Hayes pulled in a career-best 17 digs in the win.

The final note on Friday, sophomore Niki Collier (Columbia, Mo.) earned her first two career starts and finished the day with eight digs. Mizzou will be back in action against Nicholls State tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. and then will close with No. 23 Michigan at 7 p.m. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.



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