Oct. 5, 2012
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The Mizzou volleyball team nearly came up with a huge road win on Friday night but fell just short at Tennessee, 3-2 (12-25, 25-23, 25-27, 25-22, 11-15). The loss drops the Tigers to 12-5 on the season and 4-3 in SEC play. Sophomore middle blocker Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) took sole possession of the Mizzou career record for 10-block matches with her fifth; all five of those career 10-block matches have come over the last nine contests as she had 11 in the match. Junior All-American Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) had another great match with 25 kills and a season-best 17 digs, just one off of her career high. The double-double was her fifth of the season.
"I was proud of the way we competed tonight, it's just one of those matches where someone comes out on the wrong end," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "Things didn't look great for us after the first set, but we did a nice job of regrouping and had a chance to really take control of the match in the third set, but we let it slip away. But again we battled back in the fourth. I am proud of our effort tonight."
Aside from Henning, the Tiger offense was helped from numerous weapons. Sophomore Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) had 10 kills while Little pitched in seven kills while Regan Peltier (Nixa, Mo.) six more. Junior setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) finished just three kills shy of a triple-double with seven kills on .357 hitting with 42 assists and 15 digs. Mizzou was great blocking in the second, third and fourth sets, compiling 14 in those three frames, but the Tigers had no blocks in the first and fifth sets. Little led the way with 11 (three solo, eight assists) while Peltier added five (one solo, four assists) while Henning had four.
Defensively, the back row was anchored by sophomore libero Sarah Meister
(San Diego, Calif.), who posted 24 digs - her fourth 20-dig effort of SEC play. She also was nearly perfect in serve receive, converting all but one of her 32 service reception chances.
Mizzou allowed Tennessee to jump out to a 3-0 lead in the first set until a service error by the Vols put the Tigers on the board. The Tigers hung around and drew as close as 9-8 after two great plays from Kreklow. She set a great ball on an out-of-system play to Henning for a kill and then tallied an ace. But Tennessee ran off four of the next five points to open a 13-9 lead, forcing a Wayne Kreklow timeout. Following the timeout, UT continued to run off points, extending the lead to 16-10. In fact, Mizzou was able to muster just two more points in the frame as UT claimed the first, 25-12. Mizzou hit -.144 with just five kills and nine errors while Tennessee hit .355 with just two errors.
Mizzou jumped out to a 12-6 lead in the second set thanks in large part to the blocking of Little, the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week, as she tallied three blocks in the early part of the frame. That forced a timeout from Tennessee Coach Rob Patrick, which seemed to rally the troops as UT went on a 3-0 run to cut the Tiger lead to 12-9. But Wayne Kreklow used another timeout and the Tigers responded and opened a 19-14 lead after Henning's fifth kill of the match.
The Vols rallied off the next three points and looked to pull within one, but Little and Henning came up with a huge block on a quick attack in the middle to end the run. Henning then served up an ace off of UT's Tiffany Baker as the Tigers went up 21-17. But in a set of runs, the Lady Vols again rallied with three straight to cut the lead to 21-20, but a huge block from Henning and Little gave Mizzou a two-point cushion. That was enough as Mizzou was able to side out from there and win the set, 25-23, after a service error from Baker.
Following the intermission, Tennessee came out firing and opened up an 8-2 lead in the third, forcing a Wayne Kreklow timeout. The stoppage seemed to rally the team as the Tigers closed the lead to just 9-6 after a kill from Henning. The Tigers then got several swings to try and cut into the lead further, but the Vol back row stood strong and Kelsey Robinson got her first kill of the match to stop the run.
The Vols then opened an 11-6 lead, but four straight blocks from the Tigers and an attack error from Robinson tied the set at 11-11. Mizzou then took the lead at 12-11. Mizzou then fell behind 19-16 before a furious rally that consisted of four straight blocks got them back into the set. In fact, Mizzou had two set points late and got several swings to take the set, but ultimately UT prevailed, 27-25. Mizzou had eight blocks alone in the second set, but it was not enough. It is worth noting that Little posted her 10th block of the match in the third as she now owns the Mizzou record for 10-block matches in a career. She broke that career record in a span of just nine matches as she continues to lead the SEC in blocking.
The fourth set was just as wild as the third as neither team seemed to give an inch as they went back and forth. In fact, Tennessee ran out to a 10-7 lead, but Mizzou rallied back to take a 13-12 lead and the teams traded points from there until three straight points from the Vols gave them a 20-18 lead. Little ended that run with a kill from the right side on a slide and then Henning tied things up with a back-row kills as it was knotted up at 20-all.
Mizzou nearly had a block to take a lead, but the ball just fell between three Tiger blockers and UT took at 21-20 lead. Little then came back and buried a quick in the middle to tie things back at 21 all. UT then took a 22-21 lead, but three straight points including two Henning kills, gave Mizzou a set point at 24-22. Wilson and Peltier then teamed for a block to seal the set, sending it to the fifth.
Tennessee opened up a 5-3 lead in the fifth set until a kill from Peltier cut into the lead at 5-4. The teams switched sides after a Henning attack error gave UT an 8-6 lead. Following the changing of sides, Little sent a cut shot wide and Mizzou found itself down, 9-6, forcing a Wayne Kreklow timeout. Henning ended the run with a kill out of the timeout, but Baker reopened the three-point lead with a kill from the left side as the Tigers were down 10-7. That three point cushion stuck for the Lady Vols until the Tigers went on a 2-0 run, capped by Henning's 25th kill, to pull within one at 12-11.
That forced a Tennessee timeout and the Lady Vols scored two straight, including a tough service ace that just clipped the net and then UT's Jeter tallied a kill as UT escaped with a 15-11 win the fifth set. Mizzou will be back in action on Sunday at Alabama. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.