Nov. 22, 2013
|No. 4 Mizzou||25||25||25||3|
|McVey (15)||Digs||Meister (18)|
|Horner (30)||Assists||Kreklow (39)|
|Scott (14)||Kills||Henning (11)|
|Scott (.324)||Att. %||Thater (.600)|
|Warren (3)||Blocks||Little (5)|
COLUMBIA, Mo. – The No. 4 Mizzou volleyball team swept Mississippi State, 3-0 (25-19,25-16, 25-17) on Friday night (Nov. 22) at the Hearnes Center to clinch the program's first-ever conference championship and the school's first-ever SEC Championship since joining the league prior to last season. The Tigers improve to a national-best 32-0 and 16-0 in the SEC. The win earns Mizzou an automatic berth to next month's NCAA Tournament, the 11th in 14 years under Wayne and Susan Kreklow. The win is also the 300th since the Kreklows took over the program in 2000. The match was played in front of a school-record 7,879 fans, breaking the previous mark of 7,298 set against Nebraska in 2005.
"This is obviously pretty special and it is a really hard thing to do – to win a regular season conference championship," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "I think this all started last spring when the team, led my Molly and Lisa, really committed themselves to doing this. There was a lot of work in the summer, in the spring, and it is great for this to pay off. To be the first SEC Champion at Mizzou is really special, but this is just one of our goals for the year. We are going to enjoy it tonight, but tomorrow, it's time to shift our attention to Kentucky, which is a very good team."
Fittingly, the Championship was sealed on a Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) set to two-time All-American Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) for Henning's 11th kill and Kreklow's 39th assist on the night. The duo was sensational again on Friday as they have been all season. Henning led Mizzou with 11 kills on .346 hitting while Kreklow spread 39 assists to seven different attackers. She set the team to .327 in the win, the 27th time in 32 matches that Mizzou has hit better than .300 this season, a national-best. Their play is a big reason why Mizzou remains as one of just two unbeaten teams nationally with two matches left to play.
Aside from the senior connection on Friday, a pair of freshmen made huge contributions in the win. Carly Kan (Honolulu, Hawaii) pitched in nine kills on .333 hitting while classmate Emily Thater (Springfield, Mo.) added seven kills on .600 hitting. Junior Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) also tallied eight kills and classmate Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) added five kills and a match-high five blocks as Mizzou out-blocked Mizzou, 9.0-5.0. Five Tigers finished with at least five kills.
One of the huge differences in the match was Mizzou's ability to terminate play as it hit .327 while limiting MSU to .122 hitting. A big key to that was Mizzou pulling in 53 digs, led by 18 from junior libero Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) and 16 more from Kan, who finished just shy of a double-double with nine kills. Freshman defensive specialist Loxley Keala (Honolulu, Hawaii) added eight digs in the win as well.
In all, Mizzou was able to get reps for every player on the roster and the night culminated with a trophy presentation from the SEC Conference office, amidst confetti, fog and spotlights. The conference championship for the Tigers is the first regular season conference title at Mizzou since 2011 when Ehren Earleywine's softball team claimed the Big 12.
Mizzou will be back on the road on Sunday at No. 16 Kentucky as it looks to continue its unbeaten season. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouVB.
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