June 28, 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 back two in the final part of the series.
The Back Row
Heading into the season, the Tigers have a very solid returning libero in junior Sarah Meister who blossomed into one of the best passers in the SEC in her sophomore season. Meister spent the first 10 matches of the year as a defensive specialist before securing the libero position before the match against Tennessee in the SEC opener. All she did in that match was pull in a then-career-high 23 digs while converting all 28 of her service receptions. From that point, she went over double-figure digs in all but one match while boasting a serve receive percentage of .960. In fact, she had a streak of just three reception errors in an eight-match span as she converted 188 of 191 chances (.984) despite averaging 24 receptions a match She also had a streak of four consecutive matches without a reception error, averaging 25 chances per match in that span. Meister is a great athlete that can even play at the net, so her athleticism and experience - she passed nearly the entire back row last season - should lock her into the libero position.
But behind Meister is where several Tiger newcomers will make a huge impact. In fact, Mizzou brought in three freshmen players in the back row this season to help their ball control efforts. Highlighting that trio is high school All-American and Hawaii State Player of the Year Carly Kan
. Kan is a Volleyball Magazine and PrepVolleyball.com first team High School All-American, ranking as one of the top 13 players nationally, and was also named a PrepVolleyball.com Defensive Dandy. She is a great athlete that has a great knowledge of the court and has the potential to play all six rotations for the Tigers, which would be a huge bonus for Mizzou. Her passing is top-notch and her feel for the game defensively gives her all the makings of a libero in the future, but her athleticism and leaping ability will give the Tigers a tough decision as she may be too valuable as an all-around player to move to being solely a defensive player.
Also joining the Tiger back row this season will be freshmen Linda Steinhardt and St. Louis native Courtney Meek. Both are savvy players with great court sense and should see plenty of time in the back row. The two are great passers and give Mizzou more depth in the back row than they have had since the 2009 season.