Sept. 13, 2013
HOUSTON, Texas - The Mizzou volleyball team won its first match of the Rice Invitational over NC State, 3-0 (25-20, 27-25, 25-17), on Friday afternoon (Sept. 13) as it improved to 9-0 on the season. The win over NC State is Mizzou's fourth this year over teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament in 2012. Mizzou's offense again, behind the setting of senior setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.), was firing on all cylinders with 47 kills in just three sets (15.67 per set). All-American Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) led Mizzou with 16 kills on .303 hitting.
The turning point of the match came in the second set as Mizzou made a variety of hustle plays, which was evident as Mizzou had a season-high 56 digs in the three sets, to rally from down 15-8 and 24-21 to take the second frame, 27-25.
"I was pleased with the way that we came back in the second set - it showed a lot of fight to be able to battle back," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "That doesn't happen unless we practice hard every day and matches and sets like that are won on Tuesday and Wednesday in practice when it gets to be a grind. We made a lot of hustle plays that really tilted the momentum to our side of the net. Now we have a very good Rice team to play tonight."
Aside from Henning's 16 kills, the Tigers also got a big performance from junior outside Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) who tallied 10 kills on .346 hitting. Freshman Carly Kan (Honolulu, Haw.) just missed a double-double with nine kills and 15 digs and the middle hitting duo of Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) and Emily Thater (Springfield, Mo.) combined for nine kills and 13 total blocks. Defensively, Mizzou limited NC State to just .109 hitting and pulled in a season-best 56 digs, led by 18 from libero Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.). Kreklow led Mizzou with 42 assists on 47 Tiger kills, good for 14 per set, ahead of her national-leading 12.85 average heading into the match.
The first set began with a lot of long rallies and things stayed tight as both teams played scrappy defense until Mizzou opened up a 12-10 lead on back-to-back kills by Thater and Wilson. Neither team built more than a two-point lead until Kan tallied a kill down the line and then teamed with Thater for a stuff block in front of an NC State attack error as Mizzou opened an 18-15 lead, forcing a Wolfpack timeout.
Following that stoppage, Mizzou won four of the next five points, with the only NC State point being a Meister service error, as Mizzou started to find its groove, opening a 22-16 lead, forcing another NC State timeout. The Tigers then closed out the set with a 25-20 win. Kreklow assisted on 14 of 16 Tiger kills in the first as Henning led the way with six kills. Mizzou had 25 digs in the first set, highlighted by nine from Meister.
NC State jumped all over Mizzou to start the second set, opening a 15-8 lead, but the Tigers countered with a 4-0 run to cut the lead to 15-12, forcing an NC State stoppage. That ended up being part of a 7-1 run by the Tigers as they closed the gap to 16-15. NC State kept its lead until an attack error tied the set at 20-20. NC State then rallied to take a 24-21 lead, but Mizzou fended off three set points and tied the set at 24-24 after a kill from Little. Mizzou then kept its momentum and took a 27-25 set win after an NC State attack error. Henning had six kills on .308 hitting in the second while Wilson added four as Mizzou finished with 15 kills in the frame, 14 of which were assisted by Kreklow.
The Tigers carried the momentum from set two into the third and opened an 8-5 lead and ran that advantage to 12-7 after an ace by freshman Loxley Keala (Honolulu, Haw.). Mizzou then won a wild point thanks to a diving save by Kan and opened a 14-8 lead and that was more than enough for Mizzou as it ran away with the final frame, claiming a 25-17 set win
The Tigers will play Rice later this evening at 7:30 p.m. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouVB.