Sept. 16, 2011
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Mizzou volleyball team lost its first match of the American Classic to Western Kentucky, 3-1 (25-20, 22-25, 19-25, 20-25), on Friday afternoon at Bender Arena. The loss drops the Tigers to 11-3 on the season. The Tiger sophomore class had a fine match, highlighted by a team-high and season-high 17 kills from Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) on .318 hitting. Setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) tallied her second double-double of the season as well with 35 assists and a season-best and team-high 14 digs. She also added three kills. With the win, WKU moves to 11-1 on the season.
Aside from Henning and Kreklow, senior middle Brittney Brimmage (East St. Louis, Ill.) tallied 13 kills on .400 hitting and Katie O'Brien (Dallas, Texas) added eight more. Kreklow led the way in the back row with 14 digs while freshman defensive specialist Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) pulled in a career-best nine digs. Senior libero Priscilla Armendariz (Blue Springs, Mo.) pulled in 10 as well. Freshman Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) tallied a team-high five blocks in the match as well.
Mizzou fell behind early in the first set as Western Kentucky jumped out to an 11-8 lead before the Tiger block sparked a rally midway through the first set at 15-12. Mizzou scored three points on the block in that span and that was enough of a cushion for Mizzou as it took the first, 25-20. The offense came out hot in the first as the Tigers hit .296 with 12 kills, led by four apiece from Henning and Brimmage. The Tiger block was good as well, tallying four in the set as Brimmage led the way with one solo block and three assists. In all, the Tigers held WKU to just .103 hitting in the first.
The Tigers came out firing in the second set as well, racing out to a 4-1 lead before allowing WKU to eventually take the lead at 7-6. And that is as close as the Tigers would get in the second set as WKU won the set, 25-22. Mizzou attempted to rally in the set after trailing by as many as eight points. In fact, the Tigers cut the lead to just four at 17-13, forcing a WKU timeout. Out of the timeout, Henning transitioned an acrobatic dig by Jade Hayes
(Ozark, Mo.) into a kill to cut the lead to 17-14 as the run continued. In fact, Mizzou went on a 10-2 run midway through the set to cut the lead to 18-16 before WKU pulled away late. Mizzou had its chances but didn't catch enough breaks late in the set as the two teams went to the third tied at 1-1.
Henning led the Tigers with six kills on 16 swings in the second set while Brimmage pitched in three more kills on five attacks. But Mizzou struggled to slow WKU, which tallied 18 kills on .295 hitting in the set. The difference in the set was the run that WKU used in the middle of the set as the Tigers outscored WKU 14-9 down the stretch in the second.
Mizzou seemed to carry that momentum into the third set as it built a 9-3 lead, but just like the first two sets, WKU went on a run to cut the lead to just one at 9-8. The Hilltopper back row played very well midway through the set as WKU built a 17-14 lead before a kill from Brimmage stopped the bleeding. But WKU kept the foot on the gas and ran away with the set, 25-19, to take a 2-1 lead.
The key in the set was the play of the Western Kentucky back row which seemed to corral every Tiger attack. Mizzou hit .250 in the set with just three errors but had trouble getting the ball past WKU libero Ashley Potts, who had five digs in the set. Brimmage led the Tigers with four kills on seven swings in the third.
The Tigers opened the fourth set on a 4-1 lead and eventually took a 5-2 lead after Henning blasted a kill off the face of Potts. But just as they did in every set, the Hilltoppers went on a run midway through the set to pull away from the Tigers. In fact, WKU built a 17-12 lead in the fourth, putting Mizzou on the ropes. After a Tiger timeout, O'Brien tallied a kill to cut into the WKU lead but Mizzou could not close the gap as WKU took the decisive set, 25-20.
Mizzou will be back in action tomorrow as it continues the American Classic against both Villanova and American. The Tigers will play Villanova at 12:30 p.m. (CT) before playing American at 6 p.m. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.