Volleyball Opens 2011 with Tiger Invite

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Freshman Emily Wilson had 16 kills at the Black & Gold Scrimmage</i>
Freshman Emily Wilson had 16 kills at the Black & Gold Scrimmage

Aug. 23, 2011

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Tournament Info: 2011 Tiger Invitational
Date: Aug. 26-27
Time: 6:30 p.m. (CT)
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Arena: Hearnes Center
Live Stats: MUTigers.com
Game Notes: Click Here Get Acrobat Reader

The Opening Serve - What You Need to Know
• After the most successful decade in program history the Mizzou volleyball program will look to continue its success in 2011 as it plays host the Tiger Invitational this weekend (Aug. 26-27) at the Hearnes Center. Joining the Tigers at the annual tournament will be Binghamton, Idaho State, Tulane and defending Summit League Champion North Dakota State, which played in last year's NCAA Tournament.

• Mizzou will be the youngest team in the Big 12 in 2011 with 11 of its 14 players coming in as underclassmen. That is good for a 79-percent clip and the next-closest in the league is Texas Tech, which checks in at 69-percent.

• The much-heralded Tiger freshman class had a great debut at the Black & Gold Scrimmage last Friday, highlighted by outside hitter Emily Wilson, who had 16 kills on .342 hitting. Also, freshman middle hitter Whitney Little had 11 kills on .304 hitting while classmate Katie O'Brien pitched in 13 kills. Those three freshmen combined for 40 of the team's 74 kills on the night.

• Junior Priscilla Armendariz also looked good at the Black & Gold match as she pulled in a match-high 14 digs. She looks primed to replace AVCA All-Central Region libero Caitlyn Vann, who graduated last season.

What's Inside? - A Quick Look at the Notes
• The Tigers open their 2011 season by hosting the annual Tiger Invitational this weekend at Hearnes Center.
• Mizzou is coming off of its second-deepest NCAA Tournament run (Sweet 16) in program history last year.
• The Tigers received 68 votes in the Preseason AVCA Top-25, ranking as the nation's No. 29 team.
• A pair of Tigers - Molly Kreklow and Brittney Brimmage - were named to the All-Big 12 Preseason Team.
• Freshman Emily Wilson had a great debut with 16 kills on .342 hitting at the Black & Gold Scrimmage.
• Mizzou has averaged 22 wins per season since 2000 when Wayne and Susan Kreklow took over the program.
• Mizzou is one of just one of 22 teams nationally to qualify for nine NCAA Tournaments in the last 11 years.
• The Tigers return four starters from last year's team, including two of their top four attackers.
• Seven newcomers will take to the court for the Tigers in 2011, including three Fab 50 Players.
• In all, Mizzou's 2011 freshman class ranked 22nd nationally. 11 of the Tigers' 14 players are underclassmen.
• Mizzou has the largest percentage of underclassmen (79%) of any team in the Big 12.
• Setter Molly Kreklow headlines the returners. She was AVCA Central Region Freshman of the Year in 2010.
• Kreklow finished the 2010 season as the No. 2 freshman nationally in assists per set (11.70).
• Senior Brittney Brimmage (291 k) and sophomore Lisa Henning (266 k) are MU's top returning attackers.
• Brimmage led all returning Tigers in kills (291), blocks (119), hitting (.331) and points (360.0) in 2010.
• Senior Priscilla Armendariz is the Tigers' top returning back row player. She had 281 digs in 2010.
• Look for freshmen Emily Wilson, Jade Hayes and Whitney Little to make an immediate impact in 2011.
• Former Tiger All-American Lindsey Hunter has joined the coaching staff for her first season in 2011.

Tiger Invitational
After a huge crowd packed the Hearnes Center for the Black & Gold Scrimmage, the Tigers will now open the regular season with the Tiger Invitational, beginning Friday (Aug. 26) at 10:30 a.m. Mizzou's first game will be against Binghamton on Friday at 12:30 p.m. A complete schedule is listed below.

• 10:30 am - Tulane vs. North Dakota State
• 12:30 pm - Mizzou vs. Binghamton
• 2:30 pm - Idaho State vs. Tulane
• 4:30 pm - North Dakota State vs. Binghamton
• 7 pm - Mizzou vs. Idaho State

• 10:30 am - Idaho State vs. Binghamton
• 12:30 pm - Mizzou vs. Tulane
• 2:30 pm - North Dakota State vs. Idaho State
• 4:30 pm - Binghamton vs. Tulane
• 7 pm - Mizzou vs. North Dakota State

Tiger Invitational History
This season marks the eight year in the last 10 seasons that Mizzou has hosted the Tiger Invitational. Mizzou has won three consecutive Tiger Invitational titles and has never finished lower than second at the annual affair. Last year, the Tigers topped Utah Valley, Maryland and Nevada while Molly Kreklow, Brittney Brimmage and Caitlyn Vann earned spots on the All-Tournament team.

The Tournament Field
This year, the Tiger Invitational will don a new look as there will be five teams in attendance with 10 matches being played over two days. Last year, just four teams played at the event and there were just six total matches. Mizzou and North Dakota State are the only two teams in this year's field that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season. NDSU did so after winning the Summit League Championship in 2010. The Tigers' match with NDSU on Saturday night will mark the first of 12 matches against NCAA Tournament teams from 2010.

Scouting Binghamton
The Bearcats were picked to finish third in this year's America East Preseason poll and the team received one first-place vote in this year's poll. Just like the Tigers, Binghamton added seven newcomers to its roster this season. Last year, the Bearcats went 14-14 and return three starters. In league play, the Bearcats finished 9-3 to place second in the conference. The team is led by returning starting setter Julie Chambers, who was named America East Setter of the Week four times in 2010.

Scouting Idaho State
Idaho State is coming off of an 18-13 campaign in 2010 in which it qualified for its first Big Sky Conference Tournament in six years. The team lost six seniors from last year's team and will have a large influx of freshmen in their starting rotation this season. However the team returns both setters from the 2010 roster, giving the Bengals something to build on this season.

Scouting Tulane
Tulane was picked to finish fifth in Conference USA this season and junior hitter Izabela Grot was named to the Conference USA Preseason Team as well. Grot was a second-team Conference USA selection a year ago and averaged 3.24 kills per set. She played at Big 12 foe Kansas State before transferring to Tulane following the 2009 season. Tualne went 13-19 last year with a 10-10 mark in Conference USA.

Scouting North Dakota State
NDSU joins Mizzou as the only two teams in this weekend's tournament to have played in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The team was picked to win its fourth consecutive Summit League title this season as it returns four starters from its 2010 team. The Bison were swept by Minnesota in the first round of last year's NCAA Tournament, but the team returns a group of starters that has not lost a lot in their tenure at NDSU.

Last Time Out - Freshmen Shine at Black & Gold
Mizzou hosted the annual Black & Gold Scrimmage in front of 1,200 fans at the Hearnes Center on Friday and the freshman class stole the show, highlighted by the performance of outside hitter Emily Wilson. The two-time Nebraska Player of the Year finished with a match-high 16 kills on .342 hitting to lead the way. Classmates Whitney Little and Katie O'Brien pitched in 11 and 13 kills, respectively while Little hit .304. In all, those three combined for 40 of the 74 kills on the night and Mizzou underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores) combined for 54 of the team's 74 kills in the match.

Defensively, the Tigers saw plenty of production from their freshmen as well. Jade Hayes led the way with 11 digs while the freshman class pulled in 22 as a unit. Both Sarah Meister and Niki Collier combined to pull in 11 more on the evening.

Brimmage Doesn't Disappoint
Dubbed a Preseason All-Big 12 honoree this year, senior middle hitter Brittney Brimmage showed why at the Black & Gold Scrimmage. She had 10 kills in the match on just 17 swings with one error, good for a .529 hitting percentage as there was no one on the floor that could stop her. After hitting .331 last season, Brimmage looks primed to build upon that this season as she continues to climb the Mizzou record books with her .289 career hitting percentage.

Libero Position Seems Set
At the beginning of preseason training camp, it appeared that there may be a battle for the starting libero position with the graduation of Caitlyn Vann last season, but after the Black & Gold Scrimmage, senior Priscilla Armendariz has appeared to have locked up the job. She led all players with 14 digs in the scrimmage and was perfect on service reception. Freshman Jade Hayes, who projects as the team's libero after this season, also had a fine scrimmage with 11 digs and no reception errors.

Bodenstab, Petrick look Primed for Increased Roles
After impressive performances at the Black & Gold Scrimmage last week, both Ashton Bodenstab and Lindsey Petrick look primed to contribute in a variety of ways for the Tigers in 2011. Bodenstab had a great match in the back row, pulling in nine digs while converting all of her service reception chances. Petrick was great as well with eight kills and just one error on 18 attacks (.389 hitting). Both were reserves for the Tigers last season, but with performances like that, both look to figure into the mix a lot more in 2011.

Kreklow, Brimmage Earn All-Big 12 Honors
When the Big 12 Conference announced its annual All-Big 12 Preseason team, a pair of Tigers found themselves on the list as both Molly Kreklow and Brittney Brimmage earned a spot on the team. For the Tigers, it marked the first time since 2007 that a pair of players landed on the All-Big 12 Preseason team. The last pair of Tigers to do so were Na Yang and Tatum Ailes in 2007.

Tigers Picked Fifth in Big 12
Despite the youth on the Tiger roster, the league's coaches seem to recognize the level of talent on this year's team as the Tigers were picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 in the annual preseason poll. In all, Mizzou finished the polling with 32 points, just behind fourth-place Texas A&M and just ahead of sixth-place Baylor. The Tigers were picked fifth in last year's preseason poll and ended up advancing to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

Young, but Talented
Despite bringing back four players that started for Mizzou last season, the Tigers will be one of the youngest teams nationally. In fact, nearly 80-percent of the Tigers' roster in 2011 are underclassmen as 11 of the 14 players are freshmen or sophomores. That makes Mizzou the youngest team in the Big 12 and only Texas Tech (16 underclassmen) has more freshman or sophomores on their roster. However, Mizzou's last two recruiting classes have ranked in the top 25 nationally, including this year's freshman class, which checked in at No. 22 nationally. The 2010 class ranked 14th nationally.

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 nine NCAA Tournaments since 2000. The Tigers were right on that average last year with 22 wins and a trip to the NCAA Sweet 16.

What Returns for Mizzou?
The bulk of Mizzou's production from a season ago has graduated from the program, leaving some big holes to fill, but four returning starters should give Mizzou a leg up on the competition in 2011. Highlighting the returners is 2010 AVCA Central Region Freshman of the Year Molly Kreklow. An honorable mention All-Big 12 pick last year, Kreklow finished the season ranked second in the Big 12 in assists per set and was the No. 2 freshman nationally with 11.70 helpers per frame. She will be called upon to anchor a young but talented Mizzou offense in 2011.

Offensively, Mizzou does return two of its top four attackers from a season ago, highlighted by Brittney Brimmage. Brimmage leads all returners in kills (291), points (360.0), blocks (119) and hitting (.331). She also landed on COBRA Magazine's All-National Preseason Third Team for the second consecutive season. Sophomore Lisa Henning also returns in 2011. She had 266 kills on .227 hitting and had a great run in the NCAA Tournament.

Defensively, the Tigers will have to replace four-year starter and three-year libero Caitlyn Vann, but Priscilla Armendariz appears to be up to the task. She pulled in 281 digs last year, the most of any Tiger returner.

What Mizzou Will Need to Replace?
Heading into 2011, there are plenty of questions on a team that graduated five seniors last season, including three starters and its starting libero. The big question will be how the Tigers replace All-American outside hitter Paola Ampudia, who was just seven kills shy of 500 last season. She also set the single season record for attacks last year and was a double-double machine with 13 on the year. Lisa Henning, who had a great freshman year in 2010, will likely be asked to fill some of the role, but replacing Ampudia will be a team task. Look for Emily Wilson and Katie O'Brien to get plenty of swings and look for Brittney Brimmage to be set much more frequently in 2011. The graduation of Julianna Klein has also left a six-rotation spot open for the Tigers and look for a player like Wilson to step into that role as well. Also, Mizzou loses Catie Wilson and Weiwen Wang at middle blocker, but freshman Whitney Little should figure into the mix at that position as an alternative to Brimmage.

Hunter Joins Coaching Staff
There are few Mizzou athletes that are accomplished as Lindsey Hunter and she will look to parlay her success as a player into success as a coach as she joins the Mizzou coaching staff in 2011. Hunter takes the place of former assistant Chris Muscat, who took the head coaching job at Loyola (Chicago) last year. Hunter is Mizzou's all-time leader in assists, assists per set, single season assists and set for the Tigers in the most successful four-year period in program history. She will serve as the primary recruiting coordinator for the Tigers. She spent last season as the color analyst for the Tiger volleyball matches while working towards her master's degree as a graduate assistant with Mizzou's Total Person Program.

Kreklow Sets With USA Junior National Team
For the second consecutive summer, sophomore setter Molly Kreklow set with the USA Volleyball Junior National Team. She has spent plenty of time with USA Volleyball in her career as she was also with the Youth National Team for two seasons. She has now spent four years with USA Volleyball, gaining plenty of high-level experience along the way.

Brimmage Plays With USA Volleyball As Well
Kreklow wasn't the only Tiger to play with USA Volleyball over the summer as Brittney Brimmage led the USA Volleyball A2 Blue Team to a USA Volleyball Women's Open Division Championship. She helped her team go 4-0 (winning 12 of 15 sets) during pool play. The team was then bumped to the loser's bracket and came all the way back to win the tournament. She was one of the team's top middle hitters throughout the tournament.

Henning Tours China
Sophomore Lisa Henning had an experience of a lifetime over the summer as she played volleyball in China, touring and playing some of the nation's top professional teams. Henning and her team compiled a 2-4 record in six matches in China, playing against very disciplined, professional competition. She also visited places like the Great Wall, Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven.

Recruiting Class Earns National Honors
For the second straight season, the Mizzou volleyball program has brought in a nationally-ranked recruiting class as this year's checks in at No. 22 nationally. The 2011 class comes on the heels of the Tigers' No. 14-ranked class in 2010. Three of the signees - Jade Hayes, Whitney Little and Emily Wilson - were named to the Volleyball Magazine NFINITY Fab 50. With a pair of top 25 classes in consecutive seasons, look for those nine players to be the nucleus of the Mizzou volleyball program in the years to come.

Hayes Brings Plenty of Accolades
Freshman utility player Jade Hayes is one of the headliners of Mizzou's 2011 freshman class and she brings with her the accolades to back it up. She is a two-time Gatorade Missouri State Player of the Year and was the AVCA National Player of the Year as a junior in 2009. She led Ozark High School to a state title in 2009 and a third-place finish in 2010. She was also named MVP of the AVCA/Under Armour High School All-America match last year as well and was named to the Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 and PrepVolleyball.com's Defensive Dandy list.

Hayes projects as a libero long term at the collegiate level, but this season she will likely have a utility role due to her versatility, although she will likely battle for the libero job with Priscilla Armendariz. Listed a 6-0, she can hit, serve and defend and will also likely serve as the team's backup setter.

Little Named Forth Worth Player of the Year
Incoming freshman Whittney Little has also gained her fair share of accolades as she comes into Mizzou this season. The 6-3 middle blocker was a PrepVolleyball.com Senior Ace, a Volleyball Magazine Fab 50 selection and a member of the AVCA High School All-America Watch List, but her greatest honor came from the Fort worth Star-Telegram, which named her as the Super Team Player of the Year.

Wilson Continues Nebraska Pipeline
It has been no secret that Mizzou, under the direction of Wayne and Susan Kreklow, has been able to recruit the state of Nebraska with a lot of success. Names like All-Americans Lindsey Hunter, Nicole Wilson and former Big 12 Libero of the Year Tatum Ailes are just a few of the successful Nebraska natives to come through Mizzou in the last 11 seasons. And the tradition with continue this season as Emily Wilson will make her debut with Mizzou. She is the sister of former Tiger middle hitter Catie Wilson and was voted MVP of the All-Nebraska State Team twice in her high school career. The 6-2 outside hitter should figure into the mix right away for the Tigers.

A Competitive Schedule
With the departure of Colorado and Nebraska from the Big 12 Conference, a new-look schedule will take hold in the Big 12 this season. Instead of playing 20 league matches, each team will now play 16, playing each team twice. The loss of four matches has led to an additional non-conference tournament for the Tigers this season, giving the Tigers a chance to test themselves against some of the top non-conference competition in the nation. In fact, Mizzou will play 11 of its 32 matches against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season. Mizzou will also have trips to Washington D.C. and Denver this season.

`Bridging' A Local Connection
The Mizzou volleyball family has always played a very active role in the City of Columbia community, and that trend is continuing at Rock Bridge High School, one of two local Columbia high schools. There is a growing connection between the two schools that has moved beyond coincidence. Former Tiger and 2007 Big 12 Libero of the Year Tatum Ailes is now the head coach as Rock Bridge and her assistant coach is none other than former Mizzou middle hitter Catie Wilson, who graduated last season. Keep in mind that Wilson's sister - Emily Wilson - is a freshman on this year's Mizzou roster as well.

But the connections don't stop there. Current Tiger freshman Niki Collier led Rock Bridge to its first district title in 25 years in 2010 before eventually signing with the Tigers for the upcoming season. Not only that, but Wayne and Susan Kreklow's daughter Allie is a setter for the Rock Bridge volleyball team. The connection shows how connected the Tiger program has been with the community for the 11 years that Wayne and Susan Kreklow have been at Mizzou.

Tigers to Appear on ESPNU
For the first time since 2005, the Mizzou volleyball team will appear on ESPNU when it travels to Iowa State on Sept. 21. The match marks the first Big 12 match of the season for the Tigers and Cyclones in what should be a pivotal match against two of the league's favorites early in the season. The match at Hilton Coliseum is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. Remember, it was a four-set upset over No. 12 Iowa State in Ames that sparked the Tigers' second-half surge towards the NCAA Tournament last season.

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 and former Tiger Marissa Ferri will join his as the color commentator. All broadcasts can be accessed at MUTigers.tv.

Up Next
Mizzou will head to Murfreesboro, Tenn., for the middle Tennessee Blue Raider Bash from Sept. 2-4 as the Tigers will play Austin Peay, East Tennessee State, Florida International and Auburn. But before the tournament starts, Mizzou will play Middle Tennessee State on Sept. 1 in a non-conference match that is not part of the tournament. In all, the Tigers will play five matches in four days before heading back to Columbia. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.



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