Sept. 1, 2011
COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Mizzou volleyball team lost its first match of the season on Thursday as it fell, 3-1 (13-25, 30-28, 17-25, 15-25) to Middle Tennessee State in its first road match of the season. In all, Tiger middle hitters Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) and Brittney Brimmage (East St. Louis, Ill.) combined for 19 kills on .531 hitting, but the rest of the Tiger attackers struggled in the loss. Brimmage finished with a team-high 10 kills on .562 hitting while Little pitched in nine kills on .500 hitting. Mizzou is now 4-1 on the season.
In all, setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) fresh off of an AVCA National Player of the Week award, dished 36 assists in the loss while setting the middles very well. The Tiger outside hitters however, struggled to find their rhythm. Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) finished with eight kills, but hit just .033 and Katie O'Brien (Dallas, Texas) had five kills on -.167 hitting with nine errors. Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.), however, had a nice night on the outside with 10 kills on .333 hitting. The Tigers also struggled to get anything past a stingy MTSU defense that finished with 11.5 blocks and 46 digs.
Mizzou's defense also struggled in serve receive and in transition as it corralled just 31 digs in four sets while being aced five times. That allowed Middle Tennessee to hit .432 as a team as a team. The Tigers were led defensively by senior libero Priscilla Armendariz (Blue Springs, Mo.), who finished with eight.
Passing was a struggle for the Tigers' in the first set as they were rarely in system enough to get good swings. In fact, Mizzou was aced three times as Middle Tennessee ran away with the first set, 25-13. The stats favored the Raiders in the first as they hit .619 to the Tigers' .174. Mizzou had just nine kills in the set and committed five errors while MTSU was nearly flawless with 15 kills on 21 swings. The Tiger back row struggled, pulling in only four digs while committing three reception errors, allowing MTSU to do what they wanted at the net.
The Tigers seemed like a different team at the start of the second set as they jumped out to a 5-0 lead, sparked by the play of Little, who tallied two kills in that span. Mizzou continued to carry that lead until the 16-12 mark when MTSU began to close the gap. The Raiders eventually tied the set at 19-19 and rallied to take a 23-21 lead. But a Wayne Kreklow timeout seemed to settle the team down and Mizzou ran off three straight points to go on top 24-23 after a kill from Brimmage. That forced MTSU to take its final timeout of the set.
Coming out of the timeout, some of the best volleyball of the match was played as the teams traded points until Mizzou took a 29-28 lead on a kill from Wilson and then Henning put the game away with a kill that caromed off of a MTSU defender and into the rafters at Alumni Gym as Mizzou escaped with a 30-28 win. Henning, after not posting a kill in the first set, had a team-best six kills on 12 swings in the second while Little had five kills in the set, doing so on nine swings. Kreklow dished a season set-high 20 assists ad Mizzou's offense was much better with 21 kills on .308 hitting in the frame. Wilson was also key in the second set, totaling four kills on 11 swings. In all, there were 11 ties in the second set, 10 of which came after the teams reached to 17-point mark.
Mizzou kept things close in the early going of set three, but with the score knotted at 10-10, the Raiders went on a 5-0 run to pull away from the Tigers. In fact, Middle Tennessee controlled the set from that point and took the third, 25-17.
To start the fourth, Mizzou looked like it had aced the Raiders on the first serve of the set, but a sprawling play kept things alive for MTSU and they it claimed the point and eventually ran out to a 3-0 lead, turning the tides on the Tigers. Mizzou's attack struggled to get past Middle Tennessee's triple block from that point as the Tigers fell down, 8-2 in the set, forcing a timeout. But Mizzou closed the gap to 11-9 as its attack and block got stronger.
But the Raiders played off of several Tiger miscues from there as they jumped out to a 16-10 lead. The key point came at 12-10 when the Tigers had a chance to pull within one, but a long rally ended in a point for MTSU, giving the Raiders a three-point edge at 13-10. That was all the cushion MTSU needed as it won the set, 25-15.
Mizzou will begin play in the Middle Tennessee Blue Raider Bash tomorrow at 5 p.m. against Austin Peay. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.