Volleyball Opens Season with Tiger Invitational This Weekend

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Aug 26, 2013

Mizzou Volleyball Tiger Invitational
When August 30-31 |  Friday: Mizzou plays at 2 p.m., 6:30 p.m. - Saturday at 12:30 p.m., 4 p.m.
Location Columbia, Mo. | The Hearnes Center
Tickets Admission is Free!
TV None
Live Stream Mizzou Network
Online Coverage vs. USD | vs. Pitt | vs. ISU | vs. ASU | MizzouStats.com
Printable Game Notes Mizzou
Season Stats (2012) Mizzou
Series History Mizzou is 31-3 in the Tiger Invitational
Last Tiger Invite Mizzou Second (Michigan won - 2012)
Streak Tigers have won five of last six Tiger Invitationals
Social Media @MizzouVB,| Mizzou Network 

What's Inside - A Quick Look at the Notes
• Mizzou officially kicks off the 2013 season with the annual Tiger Invitational this weekend.
• Admission is free all weekend as Mizzou welcomes South Dakota, Pitt, Idaho State and Arkansas State.
• Mizzou is 31-3 overall in Tiger Invitational action, winning five of the last six Tiger Invites.
• Mizzou finished second in the Tiger Invite last year, falling to eventual Final Four qualifier Michigan in the final.
• Mizzou was picked to finish third in the SEC East this season behind Florida and Kentucky.
Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning made the Preseason All-SEC Team.
• Mizzou returns 90-percent of its kills and blocks, 89-percent of its points and 74-percent of its digs from last year.
• Mizzou returns five upperclassmen, including three All-SEC Players and one AVCA All-American in 2013.
• Seniors Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning are one of the four winningest classes in program history entering 2013.
• The senior class (62 wins) has a shot of winning the third-most games over a four-year span at Mizzou (currently 84).
• Henning is a two-time AVCA Third Team All-American and is the SEC's active kills leader with 1,295 entering 2013.
• Henning has posted back-to-back 500-kill seasons, the first ever Tiger to accomplish that feat.
• Entering 2013, Henning is just 363 kills and 480 points shy of the all-time Mizzou career record in both categories.
• Kreklow has started every match at setter in her career and is fourth in Mizzou history with 3,886 assists.
• Kreklow was second in the SEC in double-doubles with 19 in 2012.
• Kreklow has guided the Tigers to their second-best three-year hitting percentage in school history (.264).
Whitney Little will look to reset her single season block record for the third straight season (138 in 2011, 139 in 2012).
• Little is averaging 1.18 blocks per set in her career, a Mizzou career record, and led the SEC in blocking last season.
• Little also finished the season ranked second in the SEC in hitting at .367 and is the top returning attacker in the league.
• The Tigers bring back starting libero Sarah Meister who led the team with 371 digs while starting 21 matches at libero.
• Mizzou freshman class was ranked 18th nationally; comprised of two High School All-Americans and four top-100 players.
• Freshman Carly Kan was selected as a First Team All-American by PrepVolleyball.com and Volleyball Magazine.
• Kan was also a first team Defensive Dandy by PrepVolleyball.com.
• Freshman Loxley Keala was an honorable mention High School All-American by PrepVolleyball.com.
• Fellow freshmen Emily Thater (No. 36) and Julia Towler (No. 84) were also top-100 recruits.

Mizzou Officially Opens 2013 With Tiger Invitational
Mizzou will officially kick off 2013 regular season action with the annual Tiger Invitational at the Hearnes Center this weekend (Aug. 30-31). Admission to the tournament will be free as Mizzou hosts South Dakota, Pitt, Idaho State and Arkansas State. 2013 will mark the 40th season of Mizzou volleyball and Mizzou is 27-11-1 in season openers dating back to 1974. The Tigers have won the last five season openers with the last loss coming in 2007. Below is the Tournament schedule.

    Friday, August 30th
    10:00 am - Idaho State vs. South Dakota
    12:00 pm - Pittsburgh vs. Arkansas State
    2:00 pm - Mizzou vs. South Dakota
    4:00 pm - Arkansas State vs. Idaho State
    6:30pm - Mizzou vs. Pittsburgh

    Saturday, August 31st
    10:00 am - South Dakota vs. Arkansas State
    12:00 pm - Mizzou vs. Idaho State
    2:00 pm - South Dakota vs. Pittsburgh
    4:00 pm - Mizzou vs. Arkansas State
    7:00pm - Idaho State vs. Pittsburgh

Tiger Invitational History
After going 3-1 en-route to a second-place finish in last year's Tiger Invitational, Mizzou is now 31-3 all-time in Tiger Invitational and has won five of the last six Tiger Invites. The Tigers lost to eventual Final Four participant Michigan in the Tiger Invite final a year ago. This year marks the 10th time in the last 13 seasons that Mizzou has hosted the event and Mizzou has never finished lower than second in the event. Both Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning were named to the All-Tournament team a year ago.

Recapping Black & Gold
Mizzou volleyball opened its 2013 season with the annual Black & Gold scrimmage at the Hearnes Center Thursday night (Aug. 22) with the Black team earning a 3-0 (20-11, 20-18, 20-15) sweep over the Gold squad. The Black squad was led by senior All-American Lisa Henning's (Blue Springs, Mo.) 13 kills while junior All-SEC middle blocker Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) added seven kills on .583 hitting with three blocks. In fact, Little had 10 kills on .473 hitting with five blocks while splitting time on both the Black and Gold sides of the net. All-SEC setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) spread 30 assists while tallying three kills with six digs and two blocks while guiding the Black team to .341 hitting. Another bright spot was junior Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.), who had 10 kills on .308 hitting. Junior libero Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) had a team-high 18 digs without a service reception error. 1,021 fans took in the match.

What Mizzou Brings Back
Mizzou did not have a senior on its roster in 2012 and brings back plenty of production and the nation's No. 18 recruiting class. Mizzou will have five upperclassmen, three All-SEC selections from a year ago and an AVCA All-American. Below is a look at what Mizzou brings back.

    • 90-percent of its kills from 2012 (1,276 of 1,420)
    • 90-percent of its blocks from 2012 (451 of 500)
    • 89-percent of its points from 2012 (1,632.5 of 1841.5)
    • 74-percent of its digs from 2012 (1,206 of 1,630)
    • Two school record holders (Lisa Henning w/ 523 kills in 2011; Whitney Little w/ 139 blocks in 2013)
    • The SEC's active kills leader - Henning with 1,295 in her career
    • Three All-SEC picks (Henning, Little and senior setter Molly Kreklow)
    • A two-time AVCA Third Team All-American (Henning in 2011, 12)
    • The SEC's top blocker from a year ago and the league's No. 2 returning hitter by attack percentage (Little)

What Mizzou Will Need to Replace
Mizzou enters the 2013 season needing to replace very little departing production from a season ago. In all, three players transferred from the team and those three accounted for just 144 of 1,420 kills, 49 of 500 total blocks, 209.0 of 1,841.5 total points and 394 of 1,630 total digs last season. Mizzou brought in the nation's No. 18 recruiting class, so that should help fill the voids left by those departures, and then some.

All-SEC Tigers
When the Southeastern Conference announced its Preseason All-SEC Team, a pair of Tigers were included on the list in seniors Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) and Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.). The selections mark the second consecutive season that both Henning and Kreklow were honored in the preseason by the SEC and Mizzou joined league-favorite Florida as one of the only two teams in the SEC to place at least two players on the nine-member team. Henning and Kreklow began their Mizzou careers in the 2010 season as the cornerstones of what was the nation's No. 14 recruiting class that year according to PrepVolleyball.com. They have accounted for 62 wins, four NCAA Tournament matches, an NCAA Sweet 16 and they have a chance to become one of the top three winningest classes in program history. They have a pair of 20-win seasons on their résumé and have combined for seven major All-Conference Teams selections, a pair of All-America honors, three AVCA All-Region honors, nine weekly conference honors and one AVCA National Player of the Week award.

Tigers Picked to Finish Third in SEC East
The Mizzou volleyball program was picked to finish third in the SEC East as the Southeastern Conference announced its annual preseason poll on Aug. 8. In their second year in the conference, it is the highest that the Tigers have been picked in the annual tally, which is voted on by the league's coaches.

"Obviously we are excited about what we are bringing back and I think where we were selected by the league's coaches is an indication that teams around the league are aware of the type of team that we will have," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "That being said, I think we have something to prove this season. We were disappointed in how last season ended, and we have a group of upperclassmen that is very hungry. I am excited to start playing matches and I know the team is eager to get back onto the court and compete at a very high level this season."

Florida was picked to win the SEC, and was voted first in the SEC East. Kentucky, with 25 points, was the only other team picked to finish ahead of Mizzou (35 points) in the poll. LSU and Texas A&M each garnered 21 points in the SEC West as they were picked as co-SEC West Champions.

Seniors Rank Among All-Time Winningest Classes
With 62 wins through their first three seasons, the Mizzou junior class (Kreklow, Henning) has a chance to become one of the winningest classes in program history with a full season remaining. If you discount the years from 1974-1981 when a volleyball season featured close to 60 matches (as opposed to today's schedule which features closer to 35 matches per season), the Tiger senior class has a chance to realistically ranks third all-time in Mizzou history - the goal is still within reach as 28 wins would ties the mark. Below is a look at the winningest four-year stretches.

    Winningest Four-Year Stretches
    • 2002-05 - 90 wins
    • 2002-04 - 89 wins
    • 1982-85 - 84 wins
    • Mizzou Junior Class - 62 wins

Henning is SEC's Active Kills Leader
Obviously, Mizzou returns quite a bit of fire power to the roster in 2013, but there is no bigger weapon for Mizzou than two-time AVCA Third Team All-American Lisa Henning. Last season, Henning led the SEC in kills per set (4.64) and points per set (5.28), just one year removed from accomplishing the same feat in Big 12 play in 2011. She is the SEC's active kills leader heading into the 2013 season with 1,295 in her career and sits just 480 kills of fourth in SEC history during the rally scoring era. She is also just 363 kills shy of the Mizzou all-time career kills record (1,658 by Shen Danru). Henning also needs just 480 points to match the Mizzou career record. She is the first ever Tiger to post back-to-back 500-kill seasons as well.

Kreklow Anchors Offense
Since 2010, there has been one constant in the Tiger starting lineup and that has been now senior Molly Kreklow. She has started every match in her career and played in every set (98 matches, 355 sets) and is fourth all-time at Mizzou with 3,886 career assists. She has also guided Mizzou to its second-best three-year hitting percentage in program history at .264, trailing only the team from 2003-05, which was anchored by All-American setter and current assistant coach Lindsey Hunter.

The Mizzou volleyball program was picked to finish third in the SEC East as the Southeastern Conference announced its annual preseason poll on Thursday (Aug. 8). In their second year in the conference, it is the highest that the Tigers have been picked in the annual tally, which is voted on by the league's coaches.

Double The Trouble
Kreklow and Henning combined to tally 31 double-doubles last season, led by Kreklow's 19 which ranked second in the SEC. The 31 double-doubles is the most of any returning duo in the SEC this season.

Little Looks To Rewrite The Record Books, Again
Junior Whitney Little reset the Mizzou single season blocks record as a freshman with 138 in 2011 and then topped that mark with 139 as a sophomore last season. In 2013, Little, who is the SEC's leading blocker from a season ago, will look to again post another school record total. She earned Second Team All-SEC honors a season ago and was blocking at an All-American pace early in the season. In fact, over a nine-match span she tallied a Mizzou career record five 10-block matches. She also posted a pair of block-kill double-doubles, which hadn't been done at Mizzou since 2007, and reset the school record with five solo blocks at Florida. In SEC play, Little averaged 1.40 blocks per set.

Little is Current Career Leader in Block Per Set
After resetting the Mizzou single season blocks record in both her freshman and sophomore seasons, Little enters the 2013 season ranked first all-time at Mizzou with a 1.18 career blocks per set average. The next two career marks on the list are 1.07 by Nicole Wilson and 1.06 by Christi Myers, both of whom were All-Americans at Mizzou.

Scouting South Dakota
South Dakota was picked to finish fourth in the Summit League after going 14-14 last season, including an 8-8 mark in league play. The Coyotes return five starters, including two-time All-Summit League honoree Kendall Kritenbrink. Mizzou's only meeting with USD was a 2-0 win back in 1982 in Manhattan, Kan.

Scouting Pitt
Pitt enters the 2013 with new leadership on the sideline as Dan Fisher begins his first season as the team's head coach. Similar to Wayne and Susan Keklow, Fisher was a proven coach at the NAIA level before taking over Pitt, winning Concordia its first-ever NAIA title last season. Pitt is led by All-Big East performer Monica Wignot. The only meeting between Mizzou and Pitt came back in 1984, a 3-2 loss in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Scouting Idaho State
Idaho State returns five starters from a team that went 22-5 last year, including a 16-2 mark in Big Sky play. The Bengals were picked to finish second in the league this season and bring back Big Sky MVP Lori Mendenhall-Lee, who led the team with 1,297 assists last season. Mizzou is 2-1 all-time vs. ISU. Mizzou last played the Bengals in 2011, sweeping them in the Tiger Invitational.

Scouting Arkansas State
The Red Wolves bring back seven returners and welcome 10 newcomers to the roster in 2013 as they look to build on a 19-14 season a year ago. The key returner for Arkansas State is senior Megan Baska, who was a second team All-Sun Belt honoree last season after pulling in a team-best 507 digs. Mizzou and Arkansas State have met four times in history with Mizzou winning the last three, all under the direction of Wayne and Susan Kreklow. Mizzou defeated Arkansas State, 3-0, last November.

Little Also Second-Best Returning Hitter in SEC
Little posted a .367 hitting average last season, a mark that ranked third in the SEC. Heading into the 2013 season, only defending SEC Player of the Year Chloe Mann of Florida has a better attack percentage from a season ago. Little had just 47 attack errors all year in 2012.

Meister Secures Libero Spot
Last year, junior Sarah Meister started the final 21 matches of the season at libero and figures to have the lock on that job heading into this season. In fact, only four returning liberos had more digs in SEC play than Meister did last season. She had six matches in which she pulled in more than 20 digs. Also, over an eight-match span from Oct. 14 through Nov. 9, Meister converted 188 of 191 service reception opportunities and passed almost the entire back row towards the end of the year.

Tigers With Three of the SEC's Top 20 Active Kill Leaders
As noted earlier, senior Lisa Henning is the SEC's top active kill leader with 1,295, but a pair of other Tigers rank among the league's top 20 active kill leaders. The three players in the top-20 ties Mizzou for the most of any SEC school in the top 20 with Auburn while the three players account for a league-best 2,216 career kills. Henning is first with 1,295 while junior Emily Wilson checks in at 12th with 494 (the second-best mark among SEC juniors) and junior Whitney Little is 18th with 427. What is even more remarkable is that that trio has accumulated those kills on a combined .260 hitting with two of the players (Henning and Wilson) playing on the outside. Below is a look:

    SEC Rank Player Kills
    1. Henning 1,295
    12 Wilson 494
    18. Little 427
Freshman Class Garners National Praise
PrepVolleyball.com tabbed Mizzou's 2013 freshman class as the No. 18 recruiting class nationally. The No. 18 national ranking places the Tigers third in the SEC, trailing only Arkansas (16) and Tennessee (17). The No. 18 national ranking is the highest for Mizzou since the 2010 freshman class (Molly Kreklow, Lisa Henning) ranked 14th nationally.

This year's class is comprised of six individuals, the second-largest class in program history. Put together by head coach Wayne Kreklow, recruiting coordinator Lindsey Hunter and the rest of the staff, the class includes two student-athletes from Hawaii, three from Missouri and one from Texas. Joining the Tigers in 2013 will be Carly Kan, 5-8 DS/OH, Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii); Loxley Keala, 5-11 S, Iolani (Honolulu, Hawaii); Courtney Meek, 5-5 DS, St. Joseph's (St. Louis, Missouri); Linda Steinhardt, 5-5 DS, Cedar Park (Texas); Emily Thater, 6-2 MB, Kickapoo (Springfield , Missouri) and Julia Towler, 6-2 MB/OH, Blue Springs South (Blue Springs, Missouri).

High School All-Americans
Both Carly Kan and Loxley Keala earned big-time accolades coming out of high school this year. Kan was named to the Volleyball Magazine High School All-America First Team and the PrepVolleyball.com High School All-America First Team. The first team for both publications featured the top 13 high school seniors in the country. Keala was also an Honorable Mention High School All-American according to PrepVolleyball.com.

Kan a Defensive Dandy
On May 31, PrepVolleyball.com released its Defensive Dandies List - which attempts to recognize the top defensive players at the high school level - and Mizzou freshman Carly Kan was recognized as a first team Defensive Dandy. She was one of just 12 players nationally selected to the first team.

The award for Kan was the third major award that she has received last year. She was a Volleyball Magazine First Team High School All-American and a First Team PrepVolleyball.com High School All-American earlier this year, both of which honor the top 13 high school players in the country.

Block This Way
Looking at the season stats for the Tigers, the one thing that stands out is the Tigers' blocking numbers. In fact, Mizzou leads the SEC with its 2.69 blocks per set average. The 2.69 blocks per set clip ranks the Tigers 25th nationally. The numbers are even better in SEC play as the Tigers are averaging 2.82 blocks per set with a league-leading 183.0 total blocks.

Hawaiian Connection
As Mizzou volleyball takes the court this season, there will be something that a lot of Tiger fans have not seen too often as two Hawaii natives will don the Black & Gold as both Carly Kan and Loxley Keala call the Rainbow State their home. The freshman duo calls Honolulu home and played on rival high schools growing up. As a hot bed for volleyball talent, both Kan and Keala bring extensive beach play to Mizzou and great all-around games. They are the first Hawaii natives to play for Mizzou volleyball.

Tigers Train in Sand
After the NCAA added beach volleyball, more college volleyball programs have been looking into training on the beach and Mizzou did just that last spring. As the Tigers did not have enough bodies to play matches during the spring, they honed their skills while playing 2-on-2 on the Mizzou Rec Center sand volleyball courts. The idea was to not only improve the team's strength and conditioning, but also help the team get better at reading the play and playing small balls. The results have showed during fall practice so far.

Molly Kreklow Attends USA Volleyball Coaches Clinic
Senior setter Molly Kreklow has a long-standing relationship with USA Volleyball and last February, she got to work out with US National Coach Karch Kiraly at the USA Volleyball Coaches Clinic. The clinic, hosted by USA Volleyball, gives club, collegiate and high school coaches from all across the nation a chance to come get coaching tips from the USA Volleyball National Team coaches, including current US National Team Coach Karch Kiraly, a volleyball legend. Kreklow was one of the athletes at the clinic that participated in all of the drills and skill sets demonstrated by the USA Volleyball coaching staff.

Kreklows Are Second-Longest Tenured Women's Coaches at Mizzou
Now entering their 14th season overall at Mizzou, Wayne and Susan Kreklow are the second-longest tenured women's coaches at Mizzou and the fourth-longest overall. Only Mizzou soccer's Bryan Blitz has had a longer current tenure as a women's coach at Mizzou and only baseball coach Tim Jamieson, Blitz and wrestling coach Brian Smith have been at Mizzou longer among current Mizzou head coaches. The Kreklows have overseen the longest run by any coach in Mizzou volleyball history and this season, Wayne Kreklow enters his ninth year as a head coach, which will pass Craig Sherman (1986-1993) as the longest tenured head coach in Mizzou volleyball history. Coincidentally, Wayne Kreklow served as an assistant under Sherman before going to Columbia College and back to Mizzou again in 2000.

Weekly Conference Honors Trend
Since the start of the 2009 season, a trend has started for the Mizzou volleyball program. In fact, in the last four seasons, Mizzou has claimed 30 conference weekly honors, including four SEC tallies a season ago. What makes that mark even more impressive is the fact that from 1990-2008, Mizzou had just 17 weekly conference honorees.

Home Sweet Hearnes
Last season, Mizzou averaged 2,055 fans per match, which once again ranked in the top 20 nationally. Since Wayne and Susan Kreklow took over the program in 2000, the coaching duo has made it a priority to improve attendance at the Hearnes Center and have done so, creating one of the most intimidating atmospheres in the nation. In fact, in their first season at the helm, Mizzou averaged just 920 fans per match. That jumped to nearly 1,800 in 2001 and a historic 2,578 per match in 2005. In fact, in nine of the Kreklow's 13 seasons, Mizzou has drawn more than 20,000 fans per year, including eight of the last nine and four straight.

Tigers On TV
The Southeastern Conference announced its 2013 volleyball television schedule on Wednesday (Aug. 14) and Mizzou will appear on national television through the package twice during the 2013 season. Mizzou's match at Arkansas on Oct. 2 will air live on ESPNU at 6 p.m. while its contest at Tennessee will air live on Fox Sports Midwest, Fox SportsSouth and Fox Sports Southwest on Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m.

The Arkansas match will be the first televised SEC match of the season, marking the second consecutive season that Mizzou will be featured in the league's opening televised match. Last year, Mizzou defeated No. 17 Tennessee in comeback fashion on ESPNU in its inaugural SEC match, 3-2, after trailing 2-0 at intermission.

Mizzou on Social Media
For everything Mizzou volleyball all the time, check the Tigers out on social media. You can follow the team on twitter @MizzouVB. The team is also on instagram at mizzou_volleyball and the team's facebook page is Missouri Volleyball.

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. Ben Wilson will enter his first year behind the microphone in 2013 and will be joined by former Tiger Katie O'Brien, who took a medical hardship last season. Links to each broadcast can be found on MUTigers.com and MizzouNetwork.com.

Up Next
Mizzou will hit the road for the first time in 2013 with a true road match at Fairfield on Thursday (Sept. 5) before playing in the Yale Invitational that weekend against Yale, Seton Hall and Colgate. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouVB.

 

 

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