Volleyball Takes Two at Tiger Invite

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Emily Wilson leads the way with 23 kills on .524 hitting.</i>
Emily Wilson leads the way with 23 kills on .524 hitting.

Aug. 26, 2011

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COLUMBIA, Mo - The Mizzou volleyball team opened its 2011 season with a pair of sweeps on Friday as it won its first two matches of the Tiger Invitational at the Hearnes Center. In front of 2,366 fans, the Tiger freshmen shined as they helped guide Mizzou to a 3-0 (25-15, 25-9, 25-17) win over Binghamton and a 3-0 (25-17, 25-16, 25-9) sweep of Idaho State. In all, the Tigers hit .432 on the day while limiting their opponents to just .047 hitting.

"I was pleased with our effort today," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "That was the first time playing in a real collegiate setting for a lot of players on our team and I thought we really did a lot of things well. We still have a lot of areas that we need to improve in, but for the first day, I am very happy with our effort. We will need to be better tomorrow because we play two very good teams."

Mizzou will be back in action as it will play Tulane (12:30 p.m.) and North Dakota State (7 p.m.) in hopes of capturing the tournament title.

The focus of the Tigers' preseason camp was its amount of youth as 11 of the 14 players on the 2011 roster are underclassmen, and they did not disappoint on Friday. In fact, the Tiger freshmen combined for 46 of the team's 90 kills on .433 hitting with 19 blocks and 58 points in the two matches on Friday. Leading the charge for the Tiger freshmen was Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) who had a team-high 23 kills on 42 attacks with just one error, good for a hitting percentage of .524 on the day. Katie O'Brien (Dallas, Texas) pitched in 13 kills on .300 hitting while fellow freshman Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) hit .444 with 10 kills and a team-best 11 blocks on Friday.

Although the Tiger freshman class headlined the day, the sophomore class shined as well, highlighted by a team-leading 23 kills from outside hitter Lisa Henning (Blue Spring, Mo.) over the two matches. She also hit .359 on the day with five blocks. Sophomore setter and preseason All-Big 12 honoree Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) quarterbacked a balanced Tiger offense with 73 assists over the two matches, good for 12.17 per set, while pitching in eight kills, six digs and three blocks.

Defensively, senior libero Priscilla Armendariz (Blue Springs, Mo.) led the way with 24 digs on the day while averaging 4.00 per set. Freshman Jade Hayes (Ozark, Mo.) pulled in 13 on the day as well. Another telling stat was the Tigers' blocking ability on the day as they averaged an eye-popping 3.17 blocks per set with 30 over the two matches. Every front-row player for the Tigers had a block on Friday.

In the Tigers' first game of the day, they blanked Binghamton, 3-0 (25-15, 25-9, 25-17), as Henning led the way with 12 kills on 21 swings. In all, the Tigers hit .438 as a team, compiling 42 kills on just 73 swings. The highlight of the match came in the first when the Tigers hit .524 as a team. In the second, Mizzou limited the Bearcats to just nine points. The Tigers also limited the Bearcats to .041 hitting in the match as the defense shined with seven blocks and 31 digs.

Wilson shined in her Tiger debut as well with 10 kills on 18 swings and just one error, good for a .500 hitting percentage. Little, also a freshman, posted six kills on just 10 swings. Kreklow had a great match as well, posting 31 assists while tallying five kills on five swings. O'Brien, another of the Tigers' seven freshmen, tallied five kills on 11 swings as well. In all, the Tiger freshmen on offense combined for 21 kills on .461 hitting in their season debut with nine total blocks.

Defensively, Armendariz led the way for the Tigers with 10 digs while freshman Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) pitched in seven more.

In game two, the Tiger defense again shined again, but this time it was up front as the Tiger block dominated play with 12.0 in the game. That helped limit Idaho State to .053 hitting as Mizzou earned the sweep with a 25-17, 25-16, 25-9, win. Little led the way with six blocks in the match, but it was her classmate that stole the show offensively as Wilson finished with a team-best 13 kills on .542 hitting. In fact she attacked 24 times with 13 kills and no errors. Henning also had a fine match with 11 kills on .389 hitting and O'Brien and Brittney Brimmage (East St. Louis, Ill.) each finished with eight kills.

Armendariz once again led the way for the Tigers in the back row with 14 digs while Hayes was impressive again with nine digs. In all, Mizzou hit .427 in the match, due in large part to a spread-out attack, quarterbacked by Kreklow. The sophomore setter finished the match with 42 assists in three sets, good for 14.00 per set.

Mizzou will be back in action tomorrow at 12:30 p.m. against Tualne before facing North Dakota State in the tournament finale at 7 p.m. The tournament will begin at the Hearnes Center at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.



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