June 27, 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 setters in the third a four-part series.
Although she has not yet garnered the big-time accolades in her career, there is little doubt that senior setter Molly Kreklow will enter her 2013 season on a short list as one of the best setters in country. Despite not putting up big numbers last season, the SEC coaches recognized her contributions to the Mizzou roster, giving her a spot on the All-SEC Second Team and dubbing her the Preseason All-SEC setter. Her contributions to the team are nearly immeasurable; she has a chance to become the all-time winningest setter in program history and has guided Mizzou to a pair of NCAA Tournaments, including a Sweet 16 in 2010. The Tigers' three-year hitting percentage with Kreklow running the offense is also the second-best three-year span in program history, trailing only All-American Lindsey Hunter's squads in the mid-2000s.
Last year, she spread 1,141 assists and guided the team to a .261 attack percentage despite having only one big swing in the form of Lisa Henning
. Not only that, but she set a Mizzou setter record last year with 300 digs and was the top digging setter in the SEC, all while vastly improving her hitting. In fact, she hit .370 with 119 kills last year - she entered the year as just a .177 hitter with 160 kills in her first two seasons. Not only that, but Kreklow was second in the SEC in double-doubles with 19 last season with 13 of those 19 coming in SEC play. Add her 0.61 blocks per set to the mix and it is clear that Kreklow is indeed one of the best returning all-around players in the nation this season.
Since her freshman season, Kreklow has not had a back-up to take pressure off her, but this year freshman Loxley Keala comes into the program as the heir-apparent to Kreklow and will get a chance to learn from one of the best. Keala, of Honolulu, has earned her fair share of accolades while in high school as she was named an honorable mention High School All-American by PrepVolleyball.com. Like state-mate Carly Kan, Keala comes into Mizzou having played high school and club volleyball in Hawaii, which is arguably the most competitive state in the nation for the sport. She guided `Iolani High School to a third-place finish at the state championships as a senior and was a two-time All-State pick and a three-year team captain. She also brings with her a wealth of beach experience as she should be one of the Tigers' better ball control players this season as she could potentially see a lot of time in the back row for Mizzou.
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