Volleyball Opens Season with Tiger Invite

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Molly Kreklow and the Tigers open the 2012 season.</i>
Molly Kreklow and the Tigers open the 2012 season.

Aug. 22, 2012

Mizzou Tiger Invitational
Date: Aug. 24-25
Schedule:Click Here
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Arena: Hearnes Center
Live Stream: Mizzou Network
Twitter Updates: @MU_Volleyball
Game Notes: Tiger Invite Notes Get Acrobat Reader

What's Inside? - A Quick Look at the Notes
• Mizzou is 28-2 all-time in the Tiger Invite and has won the last 5. MU has not lost a Tiger Invite match since 2007.
• However, Mizzou is 0-2 all-time against this year's Tiger Invitational field (losses to VT and UM).
• Mizzou was picked to finish fourth in a loaded SEC Eastern Division, trailing league favorite UT, UK and UF.
• Tiger juniors Lisa Henning and Molly Kreklow were All-SEC Preseason picks.
• Mizzou was the youngest team to qualify for last year's NCAA Tournament and returns five starters from 2011.
• Mizzou is coming off of its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 12 seasons.
• The Tigers return four of their top five attackers from last year and 82-percent of their total offense.
• Mizzou needs to replace the loss of starting libero Priscilla Armendariz and middle hitter Brittney Brimmage.
• Henning was the Tigers' sixth All-American after earning a spot on the AVCA All-America third team last year.
• Henning was a unanimous selection to last year's All-Big 12 First Team.
• Henning was the first ever Tiger to lead the Big 12 in points per set and kills per set in a single season in 2011.
• Henning was just the third Tiger to eclipse 500 kills in a season and set the school record with 523 last year.
• The Tigers landed 2010's No. 9 overall recruit in Taylor Simpson, who transferred to Mizzou in June.
• Simpson led the Tigers with 12 kills on .476 hitting in the annual Black & Gold Scrimmage last Friday.
• Simpson and teammate Jade Hayes played together on the USAVB Youth Olympic Team in 2010.
• The duo helped Team USA to a silver medal at the Youth Olympics in Singapore.
Whitney Little and Katie O'Brien played with the USA Development team in Italy and Croatia this summer.
• Little tied the school record with 138 blocks in her freshman season in 2011.
• Both Little and Emily Wilson were members of the All-Big 12 Freshman Team a season ago.
• Both Molly Kreklow and head coach Wayne Kreklow participated in the USAVB A-2 program this summer.

Tigers Open Regular Season With Stacked Home Tournament
After an impressive performance at the annual Black & Gold Scrimmage in front of one of the largest crowds in the history of the event, the Mizzou volleyball program will open its 2012 regular season this weekend as it hosts the annual Tiger Invitational. North Florida, Nicholls State, Virginia Tech and Big Ten for Michigan, who checks in at No. 23 in the AVCA Preseason Poll, will be on hand.

Tiger Invitational History
2012 marks the ninth time in the last 12 seasons that Mizzou has hosted this tournament. The Tigers have won the last five Tiger Invites and have never finished lower than second in the event. Mizzou is 10-0 (30-1 in sets) in the Tiger Invite since 2009 and has not lost a match in the Tiger Invite since 2007. In all, Mizzou is 28-2 in nine Tiger Invites. Last year, the Tigers defeated teams from Tulane, North Dakota State, Binghamton and Idaho State. Molly Kreklow was named Tournament MVP and was the Big 12 and AVCA National Player of the Week for her efforts. Emily Wilson and Brittney Brimmage earned spots on the All-Tournament team as well.

Last Time Out
The Tigers hosted their annual Black & Gold Scrimmage at the Hearnes Center in front of a large crowd last Friday. The Gold Team, comprised mostly of the Tiger starters, defeated the Black Team, 3-0 (25-14, 25-23, 15-12). Tiger newcomer Taylor Simpson led the way with 12 kills on .476 hitting while AVCA Third Team All-American Lisa Henning pitched in 10 kills on .292 hitting in the match. Junior setter Molly Kreklow spread 30 assists and guided the Gold Team to a .350 attack percentage in the match. Defensively, sophomore Sarah Meister led the way with a match-high 10 total digs while splitting time with the Gold and Black Teams while committing just one service reception error.

A New Era Begins
2012 will mark the Tigers' first year in the SEC. In all, Mizzou has played 61 matches against current SEC schools in program history, compiling a 25-36 overall record. Of course, many of those matches were between former Big 12 foe Texas A&M as Mizzou is 13-13 overall against schools that were in the SEC last season. Mizzou was 1-1 last year against SEC schools, sweeping Auburn and losing to Florida, 3-1, in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Tigers Picked Fourth in SEC East
The Tigers, in the their first SEC Preseason Poll, were picked to finish fourth in the Eastern Division by the league's coaches. The loaded SEC East features league favorite Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida, all of which rank ahead of Mizzou. The Gators narrowly edged the Tigers in the poll for third place. The Tigers received 37 votes in the poll while Tennessee (12), UK (30) and Florida (35) edged the Tigers.

Kreklow, Henning Land on All-SEC Preseason Team
The Mizzou volleyball program may be new to the Southeastern Conference, but it has already earned the respect of its peers as the Tigers placed two student-athletes on the Preseason All-SEC Team, which was released on Aug. 7. Juniors Lisa Henning and Molly Kreklow were named to the nine-person All-SEC Preseason Team. Mizzou joined Kentucky and league-favorite Tennessee as the only teams to place two players on the All-SEC Preseason Team. Henning is fifth among active SEC players with 789 kills in her career.

Kreklows Participate in USA Volleyball A-2 Program Over the Summer
Junior Molly Kreklow and Mizzou head coach Wayne Kreklow spent 10 days during the summer in Columbus, Ohio, for the USA Volleyball A-2 Program - Molly as a player and Wayne as a coach, albeit of different teams. Wayne coached the Blue Team to a perfect 3-0 record in pool play, but his team lost a semifinal matchup, dropping it to the third-place match, which it won, 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-11) over Molly's Red Team.

Little, O'Brien Play Together in Italy, Croatia
Sophomores Whitney Little and Katie O'Brien played with the USA Development/Bring-It Promotions tour in Italy and Croatia this summer. The Tiger duo played with some of the nation's most talented underclassmen over the week-long tour and their team played in the European Global Challenge. It marks the third straight season that Mizzou has had a student-athlete play in the program. Former Tiger Julianna Klein played in Brazil prior to the 2010 season while current Tiger junior Lisa Henning played in China prior to the 2011 season.

Tigers Land Heralded Recruit Taylor Simpson
The Tigers landed a huge commit in the offseason as sophomore Taylor Simpson transferred to Mizzou. Most recently, Simpson played at the University of Nebraska but had transferred to Florida State this summer before committing to Mizzou. She is eligible to play immediately in 2012 and will give the Tigers another solid hitter at the net. She was rated the No. 9 recruit nationally by PrepVolleyball.com before committing to Nebraska in 2010. She is the highest-ranked recruit in program history.

Connection for Hayes and Simpson
Although Taylor Simpson will have to adapt to playing with a new team this season, the transition will be made a little bit easier thanks to a former teammate that is on the Tiger roster. Defensive specialist Jade Hayes played with Simpson on the USAVB Youth Olympic Team in 2010. The duo led Team USA to a Silver Medal in Singapore. What the Tigers Bring Back
It has been well documented that the Tigers bring back the majority of its production from its NCAA Tournament team from a season ago. Below is a look at what the Tiger bring back in 2012:

    • Mizzou brings back 81.4-percent of its kills from last season
    • The Tigers return All-American Lisa Henning, who tallied a school-record 523 kills last season
    • Henning is one of two All-SEC Preseason picks on the Tiger roster this season (Molly Kreklow is the other)
    • The Tigers bring back two All-Big 12 Freshman Team members in Whitney Little and Emily Wilson
    • Little set the school record in blocks last year (138) while Wilson was the first Tiger frosh since `06 with 300 kills
    • The Tigers bring back 94-percent of their assists from a season ago
    • Mizzou returns 87-percent of its aces from last season
    • Mizzou returns 66-percent of its total blocks last season
    • Lastly, Mizzou brings back 71-percent of its total digs last season despite losing its starting libero
What the Tigers Will Need to Replace
Heading into 2012, it is clear that Mizzou brings back a wealth of production from last year's roster, but the Tigers will need to place their libero from last year (Priscilla Armendariz) and one of the nation's most athletic middle hitters in Brittney Brimmage. Below is a look at the things that the Tigers will need to replace this season.
    • The Tigers will need to replace Armendariz's team-best 494 digs from last season
    • Mizzou will need to replace 300 kills (on .352 hitting) from Brimmage
    • The Tigers will also need to replace Brimmage's 98 blocks from last season, which were second-best on the team
    • There will be no senior leadership on this year's team after the departure of Armendariz and Brimmage
    • The Tigers will also need to replace Armendariz's reliable passing as she led the team with a .964 service reception percentage last season.

Seeing 20-20
Mizzou has eclipsed the 20-win mark in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2004 and 2005. In 2010, Mizzou won 22 matches en-route to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 and last year the Tigers had 21 wins, showing the stability of the program under the direction of Wayne and Susan Kreklow.

Tigers Coming off of Second-Consecutive NCAA Tournament and 10th in 12 seasons
The Tigers finished last season in somewhat of an improbable spot despite having nine underclassmen on a roster of 11, including seven freshmen. But that didn't stop the talented bunch from qualifying for the NCAA Tournament, marking the second straight appearance and the 10th time in the last 12 seasons, all coming under Wayne and Susan Kreklow.

An Experienced Youthful Group
It is a well known fact that Mizzou was the youngest team (% of underclassmen) to qualify for the NCAA Tournament last season, but heading into 2012, the Tigers boast a roster that is comprised of 10 underclassmen and two juniors, making them the youngest team in the SEC. In fact, Mizzou's roster is 83-percent underclassmen and it is the only SEC roster that does not have a senior. Mississippi State is the next-youngest team in the league as it is comprised of 76.9-percent underclassmen. What is impressive about the Tigers' youth is that they are a very experienced group as well as seven of the 10 underclassmen are sophomores and helped guide Mizzou to the NCAA Tournament as freshmen last year.

Kreklow Nets Win No. 400
Mizzou head coach Wayne Kreklow earned his 400th victory as a head coach in the Tigers' win over Baylor on Nov. 5 last season. Of his now 401 wins, 134 have come during his time as head coach at Mizzou. He was won nearly 63-percent of his matches at Mizzou.

Kreklows Win No. 750
Mizzou's win at Kansas on Nov. 2 last season marked the 750th career win for Wayne and Susan Kreklow as a pair. The win total dates back to their time as co-head coaches of the men's and women's teams at Columbia College. Of the now 752 wins, 243 of those have come during the Kreklow's 12 seasons at Mizzou.

Notables from 2011
With 21 wins last season, Mizzou has broken the 20-win plateau for the seventh time since 2000. In fact, before Wayne and Susan Kreklow took over the program in 2000, Mizzou eclipsed the 20-win mark just seven times from 1974-1999 and had not done so since 1983.

    • Of Mizzou's 21 wins last season, 11 came against teams that won at least 20 matches in 2010 and four of those 11 teams won more than 26 matches in 2010.
    • Mizzou was 7-3 in neutral site matches last season.
    • Mizzou knocked off a pair of teams - Texas A&M and Oklahoma - that ranked among the RPI top 30.
    • Mizzou had just one loss to teams ranked outside the RPI top 50 this season and that was to UC-Davis.
    • Mizzou had six wins against RPI top 50 teams and 10 vs. the top 100.
Scouting North Florida
North Florida comes into the 2012 season with high expectations after a 14-17 season in 2011. The 2012 season marks the first for head coach Steve Loeswick, a 1996 graduate of USC. The Ospreys were picked to finish fifth in the Atlantic Sin Conference while senior Paige Pridgeon was picked to the All-Atlantic Sun Preseason Team. Pridgeon, despite being just 5-7, led the Ospreys in kills last season with 387 last season but hit just .123.

Other key returners for the Ospreys in 2012 are Anna Budinska, who was third on the team with 196 kills last season (.142 hitting) and setter Casey Giovanazzi, who averaged 9.19 assists per set last year. The Ospreys also bring back Carolyn Jenkins, who was second on the team with 243 kills last season while hitting a team-best .243.

Series Information
Mizzou and North Florida have never met. In fact, the matchup with the Ospreys will mark the Tiger volleyball team's first-ever matchup against an Atlantic Sun Conference team.

Scouting Virginia Tech
After finishing 18-13 last season with an 11-9 mark in ACC play, the Virginia Tech Hokies were picked to finish seventh in the ACC Preseason Poll this year. The Hokies bring back four starters and their libero from a season ago. The Hokies also bring back All-ACC middle blocker Cara Baarendse, who was one of the best all-around players in the conference last season. She had 327 kills on .295 hitting with 225 digs and 84 blocks. She is a two-time All-ACC player as well.

The Hokies also bring back senior outside hitter Jennifer Wiker, who tallied 320 kills and 84 blocks a season ago. She played as a member of the White Team at this year's USA Volleyball A-2 program, helping her team to a gold medal in the 10-day event.

Series Information
Mizzou and Virginia Tech have met just once in program history and that came back in 2010 as part of the Western Kentucky Invitational. That year, Mizzou lost to the Hokies, 3-1, as the Tigers hit just .155 in the match while Tech hit .323. There are two holdovers from the Tiger roster from that year - Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning. Kreklow had 38 assists, eight digs, two blocks and a kill in that match while Henning posted three kills on eight swings. Cara Baarendse played in that match for Virginia Tech and posted a match-high 18 kills on .441 hitting in the match.

Scouting Nicholls State
The Nicholls State Colonels finished the 2011 season at 18-14 overall and return four starters and a libero from last year's team that was 5-11 in Southland Conference action last season. In all, Nicholls brings back four of their top five attackers from a season ago, including Jennifer Brandt, who led the team with 306 kills. Also, the Colonels top two hitters from a season ago - Sarah Terry and Jessica Addicks - return. Terry led the team with a .294 attack percentage while posting 220 kills. Addicks was second on the team with a .272 clip while ranking third on the team with 239 kills. Those two also combined for 197 total blocks last season.

Series Information
Mizzou and Nicholls State have never met. However, Mizzou is 8-6 all-time against Southland Conference opponents, with the most recent meeting coming last year in a 3-0 sweep of Central Arkansas at the Hearnes Center.

Scouting Michigan
Michigan comes into the weekend as the nation's No. 23 team in the AVCA Preseason Poll. The Wolverines are coming off of a Sweet 16 run in last year's NCAA Tournament. Coincidentally, they were knocked out of the tournament by the same team that eliminated the Tigers - Flordia. Mizzou fell 3-1 to the Gators in the opening round while UM was swept in Gainesville. However, Michigan did pull one of the biggest upsets of the 2011 tournament, upending No. 6 Stanford, 3-1, in the second round of the tourney.

UM was not picked to finish among the league's top six teams in the preseason Big Ten poll and did not have a player on the All-Big Ten Preseason Team. However, setter Lexi Dannemiller and hitters Lexi Erwin (361 kills on .173 hitting) and Claie McElheny (333 kills on .277 hitting) return along with the nation's No. 12 overall recruiting class.

Series Information
The Tigers and Wolverines have met just once in history and that came at UM back in 2009 as the Wolverines swept the Tigers. No current Tigers or Wolverines played in that match.

Henning First Tiger to Lead Big 12 in Kills Per Set, Points Per Set
Sophomore Lisa Henning was a unanimous selection to the All-Big 12 First Team last season and an AVCA All-American Third Team selection, becoming the first Tiger underclassman to be named to the All-America teams. Henning led the Big 12 in kills per set (4.65) and points per set (5.16) in league play, becoming the first Tiger to ever accomplish such a feat. She also posted the Big 12's top four point performances in league play and the top two kills performances. She gives Mizzou a pair of unanimous All-Big 12 picks in the last two years after Paola Ampudia earned a spot on the 2010 team.

Henning Breaks School Record
Staying on the topic of Lisa Henning, she broke the school record with 523 kills last season and became just the third Tiger in program history to eclipse the 500-kill mark in a single season. What is even more remarkable about Henning is that she had almost 400 attacks than the next-best Tiger last year but still hit .246 on the season.

Kreklow Keeps Digging
Sophomore setter Molly Kreklow broke the Mizzou single season record for digs by a setter in the rally scoring era with her 307 last season. Lei Wang-Francisco held the previous mark with 284 in 2007. The all-time record for digs by a setter in a single season is 334 by Gwen Mullens in 1994, but that was pre-rally scoring.

Wilson Nets 300 Kills
Freshman outside hitter Emily Wilson had 320 kills last season and is the first Tiger freshman since 2006 to break the 300-kill mark in a single season. Her 320 kills this season are the fourth most ever by a Tiger freshman and the second-best total in the rally scoring era. Yvette Buhlig holds the freshman record with 361 back in 1988 while Weiwen Wang (343, 2007) is the only freshman to rank ahead of Wilson during the rally scoring era. She was an All-Big 12 Freshman Team selection in 2011.

Big Crowds at Home
Mizzou finished the regular season ranked 13th in average home attendance at 2,298 fans per match. That mark also ranked the Tigers second in the Big 12 behind only league champion Texas. In all, 25,279 fans attended Tiger home matches, helping the Tigers to a 10-3 mark inside the Hearnes Center this season.

Program Highlights
The Tigers just completed the most successful decade in program history last year. In fact, Mizzou has averaged 22 wins per season since 2000 and is one of just 22 teams nationally to qualify for 10 NCAA Tournaments since 2000. The Tigers were on that average last year with 21 wins and a berth to the NCAA Tournament.

A Look at the Tiger Freshmen
Aside from newcomer transfer Taylor Simpson, Mizzou will have two more fresh faces on the court this season as freshmen Lydia Ely and Regan Peltier join the team in 2012. Ely, listed at 6-6, is the tallest player to ever compete for Mizzou and was the No. 4 recruit in the state of Missouri. Peltier was a second team AVCA/Under Armour High School All-American last season and is a versatile athlete that can play nearly everywhere on the floor. Both should make an immediate impact this season with the Tigers. Ely posted four kills and three blocks in three sets for the Black Team at the Black & Gold Scrimmage while Peltier had four kills on 15 swings with two digs for the Black Team.

Brimmage Returns as Volunteer Assistant Coach
After a very successful career as a middle hitter at Mizzou, Brittney Brimmage returns to Mizzou to be a volunteer assistant coach with the team in 2012. She will primarily serve as a practice player on the Tiger scout team, giving the Tigers a great middle hitter to compete against in practice every day. Brimmage was a preseason All-Big 12 pick and was twice recognized as a member of the COBRA Magazine All-National Team, recognizing the top African-American players in the nation.

Tigers On Television
The Mizzou volleyball program will be televised nationally four times, including a program-high three times on ESPNU this season. In all, the Tigers have five scheduled televised matches that will be seen throughout the state of Missouri this season. Below are the television dates for the Tigers.

    • Sept. 12 vs. Tennessee - ESPNU
    • Oct. 14 vs. Mississippi State - ESPNU
    • Oct. 19 at Ole Miss - SportSouth
    • Oct. 24 - at Georgia - ESPNU
    • Nov. 2 - vs. South Carolina - Mizzou Sports Network
Volleyball on the Air
If you can't be at the Tigers' matches this season, you can still catch all of the action at MUTigers.com as all of the matches will be streamed with audio and home matches will have video and audio. Jim Grundy will be in his first year as the team's play-by-play announcer. All broadcasts can be accessed at MUTigers.tv.

Up Next
The Tigers will hit the road for back-to-back weekend tournaments following the Tiger Invitational. Next weekend, the Tigers will head to 2012 Lipscomb Invitational in Nashville. There, Mizzou will play Lipscomb, a perrenial NCAA Tournament team, along with Houston and Appalachian State.



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