Molly Kreklow dished 39 assists and guided Mizzou to .350 hitting in the sweep.
Nov. 3, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. - Wayne Kreklow won his 500th match as a head coach on Sunday (Nov. 3) as the No. 7 Mizzou volleyball team swept No. 19 Kentucky, 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-22), as it improved to a national-best 27-0 and an SEC-best 11-0. The match was played in front of 3,925 fans at the Hearnes Center, Mizzou's fifth consecutive match with at least 3,000 fans in attendance. The win also gives Mizzou 27 on the season, the most ever by a Kreklow-led team at Mizzou, topping the previous best of 26-8 in 2002. The win is Mizzou's first ever over Kentucky and Mizzou's second over a top-20 team this season.
Junior All-SEC middle blocker Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) led Mizzou with 11 kills on .588 hitting as Kentucky struggled to slow Mizzou's middles. Freshman Emily Thater (Springfield, Mo.) also added seven kills on .500 hitting with six blocks in the win and classmate Julia Towler (Blue Springs, Mo.) added two kills on two swings with a pair of blocks. In all, the Tiger middle hitters combined for 20 kills on .613 hitting with 13 blocks in the win.
"I am just really proud of this group," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "It is great to win 500, but for me it really just means that you have been doing this for a really long time. At the end of the year, I'll probably look back and feel good about it, but right now we have our sights set on bigger goals and we are just trying to take it one step at a time. Kentucky is a good team - they are ranked in the top-20 for a reason. We did a good job of serving today and I thought we had a lot of people step up and make plays."
Aside from the Tiger middles, senior and two-time All-American Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) finished with 11 kills and eight digs and senior setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) continued to prove why she is arguably the top setter in the nation with 39 assists while guiding Mizzou to .350 hitting. She also tallied five kills on eight attempts and collected seven digs. In all, Kentucky came into Sunday's contest limiting the opposition to .182 hitting and the Tigers hit .350. It is the 23rd time in 27 matches that Mizzou has hit .300 or better this season.
Kentucky did a nice job of controlling the Tigers' pin hitters on Sunday, limiting reigning SEC Player of the Week Carly Kan (Honolulu, Hawaii) to just six kills on .105 hitting while holding Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) to just five kills, but it was the play of the Tiger middles that propelled the team to victory. Mizzou also slowed Kentucky's senior All-American right side Whitney Billings, who had just seven kills on .083 hitting with five errors. Mizzou had nine blocks in the match, six of which came in the second set. Thater led Mizzou with six (one solo, five assists) and Henning added five as well. Kan, despite being slowed offensively, still had a great floor game, collecting nine digs while converting a team-high 32 service receptions. Junior libero Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) added seven digs and five assists as well and Henning pulled in eight digs of her own.
The first set featured a very high level of volleyball on both sides of the net, but Mizzou used a torrid .424 attack clip and 17 kills to claim a 25-21 set win. Mizzou had 17 kills in the frame with just three attack errors. The second set was close until the Tiger block came up with some huge plays to help Mizzou claim a 25-23 set win despite a late run by the Wildcats. It was the Mizzou offense that again made the difference in third set as the Tigers hit .394 with 17 kills as Henning and Thater each posted four kills on six errorless attacks in the frame.
The Tigers will put their undefeated and SEC-leading record on the line this next weekend in a pair of rough road tests at Auburn and Alabama. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter MizzouVB.
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