Sept. 6, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -
With Tropical Storm Hanna overhead, the Missouri volleyball team (4-2) finished play in the Spring Hill Suites at Arundel Mills Invitational in College Park, Md., with a win over the St. John's Red Storm (4-3), 16-25, 28-26, 17-25, 29-27, 17-15. The tussle with the NCAA Regional semifinalist from 2007 produced 59 ties and 27 lead changes. Sophomore Julianna Klein (Keota, Iowa) once again led the Tigers with 18 kills and was named to the All-Tournament team.
Klein, who finished the tournament with a Tiger-high 4.00 kills per set in the tournament, was one of four Tigers with double-digit kill totals on the evening. Junior Amanda Hantouli (Omaha, Neb.) scored on 14 kills with a .480 hitting strike, adding four blocks. Junior Lauren Nuckolls (Overland Park, Kan.) came off the bench and produced a career-high 12 kills, adding six digs and three blocks. Junior Megan Wilson (Lincoln, Neb.) notched 10 kills, adding two aces and three blocks.
Sophomore Caitlyn Vann (Muncie, Ind.) tallied a career-high 34 digs, to average 5.27 digs per set in the tournament. Freshman Priscilla Armendariz (Blue Springs, Mo.) and Annie Lopez (St. Louis, Mo.) compiled 15 and 11 digs, respectively, in the contest.
Sophomore Weiwen Wang (Nanjing, China) added nine kills and led Mizzou in participating in seven of the team's 11 blocks.
Mizzou ended the tournament in third place, due to a tiebreaker of 2-1 teams, St. John's, Missouri, and Kentucky. Kentucky won the tournament with a +4 set margin, St. John's was second with a +2 set margin, and Mizzou finished with a +1 set margin for third.
For the first time in Mizzou history, the Tigers won a match by winning all three games by two points and with extra play, playing more points than the normal cap to win all three.
Mizzou kept the first set close early on, before St. John's used a 4-1 run to make the score 12-8. Tiger frosh Priscilla Armendariz served Mizzou to five-straight points to take the lead at 13-12 and force a Storm timeout. But, then, the points started to pour for St. John's as they would go on a 13-4 strike to take the frame, 25-16.
The second set was mind numbing, containing 21 ties and eight lead changes, as neither team gained much ground on each other. In fact, the teams tied at each point from 9-9 to 22-22. The Tigers scored two straight with a Klein kill and Nuckolls-Weiwen Wang double block to reclaim the lead at 20-19 to force a Red Storm timeout. St. John's would reverse the advantage with a 3-1 run to take the score to 22-21, forcing a Mizzou timeout. St. John's would take a 24-22 lead and force Mizzou's last timeout. Nuckolls would score her fifth kill of the set to place the score at 24-23 and Hantouli dropped one down the middle to tie at 24-24 and force a Storm timeout. The teams would tie at 25-25 and St. John's had a chance at match point after a kill. A Red Storm serve in the net tied the score at 26-26, and coupled with a Lei Wang-Megan Wilson double-block and Wilson ace, gave the Tigers the set, 28-26. Mizzou's Vann had 12 digs in the stanza alone.
In the third, Mizzou was able to sideout plenty of times, but didn't sustain a serve, allowing St. John's to score on runs of two, three, or four to run the score to its final 25-17. Klein was a bright spot in the set, leading Mizzou with seven kills in the frame on .500 hitting.
Tied and lead changes were again part of the program to start set four. Starting at 13-13, St. John's scored three straight to force a Mizzou timeout at 16-13. Caitlyn Vann served four-straight points to help MU reclaim the lead at 17-16. The teams had several hard-fought points in a row, but Mizzou was able to again take the lead at 21-20 after a Red Storm hitting error, forcing another timeout. Mizzou took a two-point lead at 23-21 after consecutive kills by Megan Wilson and Klein, but two kills by the Storm took it back to 23-23. St. John's used a double-block on the next rally to force a match point and Mizzou's final timeout. Hantouli was able to score a kill after great execution by the Tiger passing and offensive unit to make the score 24-24. A long rally ended by a Hantouli-Lei Wang block gave Mizzou a chance at set point at 25-24. St. John's then snuck a kill down the line to tie at 25-25. Hantouli scored again on a kill to MU's advantage at 26-25. A Tiger hitting error tied the score at 26-26. A bad set by St. John's set up an attack in the net and gave Mizzou its third set point. St. John's scored on another kill to make it 27-27, but Nuckolls responded with a kill to place the score to 28-27. Megan Wilson and Weiwen Wang provided a double block to force the fifth set with a 29-27 win in the game. In total, 20 ties and eight lead changes came in the set as Hantouli led Mizzou with five kills.
During the sprint to eight, the Tigers forced zero unforced errors, meaning only kills or blocks would be scoring plays for MU. Huge kills by Klein, Nuckolls, and Weiwen Wang helped the score along to 8-5 at the switch. The Storm used an insanely long rally to force a Mizzou timeout at 9-7. St. John's scored three more in a row to retake the lead at 10-9 as part of a 5-0 run. An ace by the Storm put the score to 11-9. A four-hit play by St. John's put the score to 11-10. A faint tip by St. John's off a just long attack by Mizzou gave the Tigers the point and an 11-11 tie. The teams once again tied at 13-13 and 14-14. St. John's had another match point after a Tiger error, but Klein picked up another kill to tie at 15-15. A kill by Hantouli made it 16-15, then a Storm attack error ended it, with Mizzou on top.
The Tigers will continue its 10-match road trip with a visit to Reno, Nev., and the AT&T Invitational, hosted by the University of Nevada. Also in attendance at next weekend's tournament will be Pepperdine and UC-Davis. Pepperdine knocked off No. 17 Colorado State on Friday.