Sept. 21, 2013
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COLUMBIA, Mo. - In its final tune-up before Southeastern Conference play, the Mizzou volleyball program improved to 15-0 while winning the Mizzou Classic with wins over SEMO and Middle Tennessee on Saturday (Sept. 21) at the Hearnes Center. The Tigers swept SEMO, 3-0 (25-13, 25-14, 25-13), while hitting a school-record .606 early in the day and came back to sweep Middle Tennessee, 3-0 (25-22, 25-13, 27-25), in the championship match. Seniors Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) and Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) were named Co-Most Valuable Players of the Tournament while Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) and Carly Kan (Honolulu, Hawaii) were named to the All-Tournament team.
"Obviously I am happy with how we have played so far this season," head coach Wayne Kreklow said as his Tigers are off to the program's best start since 1982. "That match against Middle Tennessee was an adventure and is the type of match that we can expect in SEC play. They were big and athletic and they posed a lot of matchup issues. We lost our composure late in the third set, but I was pleased with how we came back to win that one. We have a lot of things we still need to improve on, but it was a successful non-conference season and I think we are ready for SEC play."
In all, Mizzou hit .457 on the weekend and averaged 14.75 kills per set, raising its national-best hitting percentage to .393 through 15 matches. Henning, a two-time All-American, played up to that billing all weekend as she averaged 4.33 kills per set on .512 hitting while pulling in 20 digs with nine blocks and three aces. Kreklow was outstanding as usual, averaging 12.33 assists per set while quarterbacking an offense that hit .457 over the four matches on the weekend. Little may have put together her best weekend of the season, hitting .653 with 32 kills and 21 total blocks (four solo, 17 assists) as she averaged 1.75 per frame. She raised her national-best hitting percentage to .592 over the weekend. Kan was also sensational all weekend with 31 kills on .373 hitting with 20 digs, also landing on the All-Tournament team as well.
In the first match of the day against SEMO, the Tigers set the tone early as they did not commit an attack error on their first 32 attempts of the match and wound up tallying 47 kills on just 71 attacks with only four errors, good for a school-record .606 attack percentage. The previous best mark was .595 against Morgan State in 2000. Mizzou hit an eye-popping .727 in the first set and .652 in the third. Henning paced the Tigers in the first match with 13 kills on just 19 attacks, matching her career-best hitting percentage of .632, which she happened to set Friday against Samford. Little was also sensational against SEMO with 10 kills on just 11 attacks without an error while pitching in five blocks (two solo, three assists). Kan had eight kills on .500 hitting while Kreklow assisted on 40 of Mizzou's 47 kills. Junior libero Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) led Mizzou with 14 digs in the sweep of SEMO.
In the nightcap against Middle Tennessee, Mizzou again hit very well with a .384 clip as it has now hit above .380 in 10 of 15 matches this season. Henning and Kan led Mizzou in the match with 15 kills apiece on .367 and .467 hitting, respectively. Little pitched in seven kills on 15 errorless attacks as she did not commit an error all weekend in four matches. Heading into the weekend, Little had the fewest errors in the nation at just six as she will remain in that spot this week. She also had six blocks in the match, including a match-clincher in the third set on a solo stuff to close out the third set and seal the match with a 27-25 set win.
The Tigers were very good defensively again against Middle Tennessee as three Tigers finished with double-digit dig totals, led by 13 from Kreklow as she tallied a double-double with her 37 assists. Meister pulled in 12 digs and Henning pitched in 10 more, good for her third double-double of the season.
Mizzou opens SEC play next Friday (Sept. 27) against South Carolina at the Hearnes Center. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouVB.