Volleyball Opens '09 with Black & Gold Match

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Lei Wang-Francisco returns for her senior season at the setter position.</i>
Lei Wang-Francisco returns for her senior season at the setter position.

Aug. 20, 2009

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COLUMBIA, Mo. -- In preparation for the 2009 regular season, the Mizzou volleyball program will host its annual Black and Gold scrimmage on Friday (Aug. 21) at the Hearnes Center. The match is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. The 2009 season will mark the 10th season under both Wayne and Susan Kreklow as the Tigers are in search of their ninth NCAA Tournament appearance during that span. Mizzou returns five players that started every match during 2008 and seven that saw action in all 30, including the Tigers' leaders in each of the major statistical categories - kills, digs, hitting percentage, blocks and assists - during the 2008 season.

Highlighting the returners for the Tigers is a pair of seniors, Lei Wang-Francisco (Shanghai, China) and Amanda Hantouli (Omaha, Neb.). Wang-Francisco, the Tigers' three-year starter at the setter position, comes into the season ranked fourth on the all-time Mizzou career assist list with 3,677 during her three seasons. Wang-Francisco has posted two triple-doubles in her career and boasts nine matches with at least 60 assists during her career. Hantouli, also a seasoned veteran, led the Tigers in both total blocks (106) and hitting percentage (.253) last season and has led the team in hitting in each of the past two seasons. She also added 214 kills last season, ranking her fourth on the team in that category.

Junior libero Caitlyn Vann (Munice, Ind.) will anchor the Tigers in the back row this season after she put together one of the finest statistical defensive seasons in Tiger history during the 2008 campaign. After totaling 560 digs, Vann moved to third-place on the single-season dig list at Mizzou, trailing only former Tiger Tatum Ailes. Had the scoring system been to 30 points in 2008, like it was when Ailes played, according the percentages, Vann would have smashed Ailes' record by more than 70 digs, earning her a spot amongst the Big 12's elite liberos. Sophomores Priscilla Armendariz (Blue Springs, Mo.) and Annie Lopez (St. Louis, Mo.) also played in the back row in all 30 matches last season, tallying 250 and 242 digs, respectively, solidifying the Tigers' defensive corps one of the best in the league in 2009.

Both Julianna Klein (Keota, Iowa) and Weiwen Wang (Nanjing, China) return for their junior seasons as well. The pair combined to be the Tigers' top two attackers during 2008 and finished one-two in total kills, respectively. Klein finished 2008 with 393 kills to lead the team while Wang tallied 246 on the season while hitting .242, the second-best attack percentage on the team. Wang also ranked second on the team with 90 total blocks.

Tiger fans will be able to check out the five newcomers to the volleyball roster on Friday, including Preseason Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, Paola Ampudia (Cali, Colombia), a transfer from Miami Dade College. Ampudia was the 2007 National Junior College Athletics Association (NJCAA) National Player of the Year after leading her team to the national title game that year. Ampudia is joined at Mizzou by one of her former teammates at Miami Dade, Rosa Medrano (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic), who will also come to Mizzou as junior college transfer. Both come to the Tiger program as versatile all-around players that should make an immediate impact.

Three freshmen will also don the black and gold for the first time this Friday - defensive specialist Marissa Ferri (Naperville, Ill.), Kate Harris (Lee's Summit, Mo.) and Lindsey Petrick (Overland Park, Kan.).

The Tigers will also hold a free youth clinic prior to Friday' scrimmage. The clinic is open to all boys and girls from kindergarten through eighth grade and all participants will receive free admission vouchers for the Black and Gold scrimmage, a free 2009 Mizzou volleyball poster and free pizza prior the Black & Gold match. Check-in for the clinic begins at 4:30 p.m. and pre-registration is required.

The clinic will last from 4:45-5:45 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 18) inside the Hearnes Center Field House. To pre-register, please contact Haleigh Harrold by e-mail at hthqmb@mail.mizzou.edu and provide the attending child's name, grade in school, mailing address along with the parent's phone and e-mail address. Children that attend the clinic and Black & Gold scrimmage will also be treated to an autograph session following the match.

For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, including Friday's Black & Gold match, stay tuned to www.mutigers.com.



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