June 25, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Mizzou volleyball program is loaded with five upperclassmen, a two-time All-American and three All-SEC players as it prepares for its second season in what figures to be a loaded Southeastern Conference. With All-SEC setter Molly Kreklow running the show, two-time AVCA Third Team All-American Lisa Henning on the outside and All-SEC hitter Whitney Little in the middle, the Tigers have a strong nucleus returning. That trio should be complemented nicely by a freshman class that ranked No. 18 nationally according to PrepVolleyball.com as the Tigers should make another run towards a top finish in the SEC. The following is a position-by-position breakdown of what the Tigers can expect in 2013. Today, MUTigers.com will focus on the outside hitting bunch in the first a four-part series.
The Outside Hitters
There have been few Mizzou hitters, let alone hitters in all of college volleyball, who have enjoyed the type of success that Lisa Henning has had in her first three years as a Tiger. She enters the 2013 season as the SEC's active leader in career kills with 1,295 and is the program's second player to earn a spot on one of the three AVCA All-America teams in back-to-back seasons after being dubbed a third-team All-American in 2011 and 2012. The Blue Springs, Mo., native led the SEC in kills per set (4.64) and points per set (5.28) en-route to a unanimous All-SEC selection and had more than twice as many kills as the next-best Tiger with 506. She became the first-ever Tiger with back-to-back 500-kill seasons. So with Henning coming back for her senior season, she will be one of the frontrunners for SEC Player of the Year and should be one of the top attackers in the nation this season. A lot of Henning's kills last season came as she was really the Tigers' only big swing on the outside as Emily Wilson played much of the season in the middle. But this year, with several incoming middle hitters, Wilson should be back on the pins this season where she earned a spot on the All-Big 12 Freshman Team in 2011. Wilson had just 174 kills last season while playing all over the front row, but a move back to the outside should help her return to her freshman form in which she tallied 320 kills on .246 hitting. Also, sophomore Regan Peltier will figure into the mix on the outside after a freshman season that saw her tally 167 kills. With the addition of several ball control players in the back row, Peltier will also not be forced to play all six rotations so she can focus on hitting this season, which should help her attacking.
In addition to the three returners, freshman Carly Kan
, despite being recruited as a back row player, may figure into the mix on the outside as the springy, 5-9 Hawaii State Player of the Year and High School All-American has drawn comparisons to former Tiger great Shen Danru
. Julia Towler
, despite coming in as a freshman middle, could see time on the pins as well as her size out there could make he a great asset to the Tigers.
Mizzou volleyball opens fall practice on Aug. 8 and the majority of the team will arrive on campus next week. Ticket information will be released in the early part of July. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouVB.