Sept. 23, 2012
BATON ROUGE, La. - Sophomore Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) did it all again for the Tigers they escaped SEC West Division-favorite LSU with a 3-1 (25-20, 25-23, 21-25, 25-22) win at the Maravich Center on Sunday afternoon (Sept. 23). Little again was dominant, posting a team-best 15 kills on 34 errorless attacks while pitching in seven blocks (four solo, three assists) as she accounted for a team-best 21.5 total points. Mizzou is now 11-3 on the season and 3-1 in league play, placing it second in the SEC East.
"This was a great win for us," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "We had a tough match Friday night at Florida and to bounce back and beat an LSU team that was picked to win the SEC West says a lot about the toughness of this team. I thought we did a great job offensively in the first two sets and then the match was very defensive after the intermission and I thought our team did a great job of adjusting to the play."
Little's 15 kills and 34 attacks are new career-highs and her seven blocks will undoubtedly keep her in the league lead in blocks per set during SEC play. Little was the headliner for the Tigers on Sunday, but she certainly wasn't the Tigers' only offensive option as sophomore Taylor Simpson (Colorado Springs, Colo.) posted 14 kills on .256 hitting while All-American Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) posted her third double-double of the season with 12 kills and 13 digs. Junior setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) was sensational as usual, dishing 47 assists and pulling in 14 digs, good for her team-leading seventh double-double of the season.
Not to go unmentioned was the play of the Tiger back row, which collected 87 digs, 27 of which came from libero Sarah Meister (San Digeo, Calif.) as she reset her career-high. LSU was very pesky defensively, corralling 98 digs as well. But the play of Meister and Jade Hayes (15) and Niki Collier (10) along with Kreklow and Henning gave Mizzou five players over 10 digs.
Mizzou put on an offensive onslaught in the first set, hitting .342 with 16 kills on 34 attacks as it ran away with the frame, 25-20. Simpson was the top attacker for Mizzou with six kills on 11 errorless attacks while Little added three kills on eight errorless attacks in the first set. LSU actually led 12-10 after a service error from Henning, but Mizzou went on an 8-3 run to take an 18-15 lead and closed the set from there.
Mizzou looked like it would run away with the second set as Kreklow appeared to get a kill to make the score 15-10 in favor of the Tigers, but she was called for a lift and that gave LSU a point and life in the set. Now at 14-11 instead of 15-10, LSU went on a 4-1 run to tie the set at 15-15 after a kill from Helen Boyle and took its first lead at 18-17 on a kill from Maddie Jones. LSU ran the lead to 22-20, but the Tigers did a great job defending their serve and scored five of the next six points to win the set, 25-23. At 23-23, the Tigers got a huge dig from Meister and then in the same rally got a big block from Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) and Henning of LSU's Boyle to tie the set at 24 all. Following that point, Boyle went up again on the left side and Henning and Wilson got up early and forced an attack error, sealing the set win.
Through two sets, the Tigers relied heavily on the attack duo of Simpson and Little, who combined for 18 kills on 41 errorless swings (.439) hitting. Simpson had nine kills on 24 attacks while Little had nine kills on just 17 attacks. Kreklow dished 26 assists and guided the team to .318 hitting through the first two sets. Meister led all players with 13 digs through the first two sets.
The Tigers again jumped out to a lead over LSU in the third and held a slim advantage at 17-16 until a three-point run from LSU really put the set out of reach for Mizzou as it fell, 25-21. Mizzou struggled in serve receive in the third set and was unable to run the high-tempo offense due to the poor passing as Mizzou hit just .167 with six attack errors in the frame. The set win forced a fourth set for the Tigers.
The fourth set was a wild affair as there were plenty of back-and-forth rallies as both team's back rows were playing very well. In particular there were two late in the set, one coming with Mizzou on top 19-18. In that point, Regan Peltier (Nixa, Mo.) tallied kill on a left-side swing to give Mizzou a 20-18 lead in the set. Mizzou ultimately opened up a 23-20 lead, but LSU cut the gap to 23-22, but the Tigers scored the final two points on a kill from Simpson and an attack error from Desiree Elliot.
Mizzou will be back in action next weekend as they play Texas A&M at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and Georgia at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, both at the Hearnes Center. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.