Offense Guides Mizzou to 2-0 Start at Tiger Invite

<i>Senior Molly Kreklow anchored a stellar offense Friday.</i>

Senior Molly Kreklow anchored a stellar offense Friday.

Aug 30, 2013

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COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Mizzou volleyball team hit .425 while averaging 16.57 kills per set en-route to winning its first two matches of the season-opening Tiger Invitational against South Dakota and Pittsburgh on Friday (Aug. 30) at the Hearnes Center. At 2-0, Mizzou is now on the driver's seat for their sixth Tiger Invitational Tournament Title in seven years. Mizzou defeated South Dakota, 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-16) before topping Pitt, 3-1 (25-13, 23-25, 25-14, 25-13) in the night cap. Mizzou broke a four-set school record with its .458 attack clip against Pittsburgh, a mark that was the best by a Tiger team since 2007.

Mizzou's offense was the story of the day on Friday as senior All-SEC setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) guided the team to a combined .425 attack clip while Mizzou's top five hitters on the day all hit .377 or better with four checking in at better than .500. Two-time All-American Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) had 33 kills on the day on .377 hitting while freshman Carly Kan (Honolulu, Hawaii) pitched in 23 kills on .526 hitting. The middle hitting combination of freshman Emily Thater (Springfield, Mo.) and All-SEC junior Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) was nearly unstoppable on Friday as well. Thater had 19 kills on a team-best .692 hitting in her first collegiate action while Little had 19 kills on .581 hitting. Junior libero Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) added a team-best 25 digs on Friday while Thater paced the team with 10 blocks.

"Obviously it was a very good day for us, but now we need to shift our focus towards tomorrow," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "I think what we did offensively speaks to our ball control; I know it's just the first day but it was the best we have had in some time. I thought the freshmen did a nice job of battling nerves and of course Molly and Lisa were great as usual. We beat two very good teams today."

Mizzou dominated its first match of the day against South Dakota, winning 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-16), behind a torrid offensive output, anchored by Kreklow. The setting of Kreklow helped Mizzou to .393 hitting in the three sets as Kreklow assisted on 45 of 54 Tiger kills. Kreklow also pulled in 12 digs and added four kills on seven errorless attacks as she tallied her first double-double of the season after ranking second in the SEC in that category in 2012.

Kreklow's favorite target against South Dakota was Henning, who had a match-high 15 kills on .289 hitting while pulling in six digs with three blocks. But it was the middle hitting duo of Little and Thater that was unstoppable for the Tigers. Thater had 10 kills on 12 errorless attacks in her first collegiate match while Little added seven kills on 12 errorless attack as they combined for 17 kills on just 24 attempts (.708 hitting). The duo also combined for seven blocks as well. Kan, in her first collegiate match, had eight kills on 18 attacks, good for a .389 clip. Meister had a match-high 14 digs as well.

The Tigers stumbled in set two against Pittsburgh, but still dominated the Panthers, 3-1 (25-13, 23-25, 25-14, 25-13), to move to 2-0 on the day. Kreklow again anchored an offense that put up great numbers as it tallied 62 kills in the four sets (15.50) on a combined .458 hitting. In fact, the .458 hitting percentage in the match is a new Mizzou school record in a four-set contest and the best by a Tiger team since 2007 while ranking 14th in school history.

The Tigers were led by a very balanced attack against Pittsburgh, highlighted by 18 kills from their two-time All-American Henning, who did so on .484 hitting. Kan again was outstanding against Pitt. At 5-9, she overpowered a much bigger Pittsburgh front line with 15 kills on .650 hitting while pitching in three aces. Little, an All-SEC player a season ago, pitched in 12 kills on .579 hitting while Thater added nine more on .571 hitting. Mizzou aced Pitt 10 times in the match.

The bulk of the offense ran through Kreklow again against Pitt as she tallied 51 assists (12.75 per frame) while adding two kills, three aces and eight digs. Henning led Mizzou defensively in the Pitt match, pulling in a team-best 13 digs for her first double-double of the season. Meister pitched in 11 and Mizzou had seven blocks as a team in the win.

The Tigers will close the Tiger Invitational tomorrow in search of their sixth Tiger Invitational win in seven years. In all, Mizzou is now 33-3 in Tiger Invitational action after Friday. The Tigers will play Idaho State at noon tomorrow before closing action with Arkansas State at 4 p.m. Admission again is free.

For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to and follow the team on twitter @MizzouVB.



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