Volleyball Heads to MSU Eagle Challenge

MUTIGERS.COM SEC Player of the Week Lisa Henning and the Tigers head to the MSU Eagle Challenge.</i>
MUTIGERS.COM
SEC Player of the Week Lisa Henning and the Tigers head to the MSU Eagle Challenge.
MUTIGERS.COM
Mizzou Volleyball at MUS Eagle Challenge
Date: Sept. 7-8
Schedule: See Below
Location: Morehead, Ky.
Arena: Wetherby Gym
Live Stream: Mizzou Network
Twitter Updates: @MU_Volleyball
Game Notes: Morehead State Invite Notes Get Acrobat Reader

What's Inside? - A Quick Look at the Notes
• The Tigers will put their 6-1 record on the line this weekend at the Morehead State Eagle Challenge.
• Mizzou will play Valparaiso, Savannah State and host Morehead State this weekend.
• The Tigers are coming off of a Lipscomb Invitational title last weekend after sweeping three foes.
Lisa Henning was named SEC Player of the Week after averaging 5.67 pps, 1.22 bps and 3.22 dps last week.
• Mizzou is 5-3 overall on the third weekend of play since 2010 with a pair of runner-up finishes in tournaments.
• At 6-1 overall, Mizzou trails just South Carolina (8-0) in the SEC East.
• Heading into the weekend, Mizzou ranks third in the SEC in hitting (.306) and second in aces (1.82).
• Individually, Lisa Henning is second in the SEC in points pet set (5.27) and third in kills per set (4.32)
• Also,Whitney Little is second in the SEC in hitting at .438 while Molly Kreklow is third in assists (10.82)
• Mizzou has four players ranked in the SEC's top 11 in service aces per set.
• The Tigers improved their defense last week, moving into the SEC top five in both digs and blocks.
Jade Hayes has pulled in double-digit digs in seven straight matches to open the season.
• Freshman Regan Peltier had a breakout weekend at Lipscomb, posting 23 kills on .352 hitting with five blocks.
• Sophomore Emily Wilson switched to playing middle hitter last weekend and tallied 10 kills and 10 blocks.
• Setter Molly Kreklow is just 17 assists shy of becoming the fifth Tiger setter to dish 3,000 career assists.
• It is worth nothing that if Kreklow played in 30-point sets, she'd be on pace to set the school career assist record.
• The Tigers landed 2010's No. 9 overall recruit in Taylor Simpson, who transferred to Mizzou in June.
• Simpson so far this season is averaging 2.74 kills per set on .276 hitting.
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.

Tigers Set for Final Tune-Up Before SEC Play
The Mizzou volleyball program will hit the road for the final time in nonconference play this weekend as it heads to the Morehead State Eagle Challenge. Mizzou will play Valpariaso at noon (CT) on Friday before playing the host Eagles at 6 p.m. (CT). The Tigers will close their tournament with a match against Savannah State at 11 a.m. (CT) on Saturday before returning home. In all, since 2010 (Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning's freshman year) the Tigers are 5-3 overall in weekend tournaments during the third weekend of play. Last year, Mizzou went 3-1 at the Denver Pioneer Classic in the third weekend of play.

    Friday
    • 12 p.m. - Mizzou vs. Valparaiso
    • 6 p.m. - Mizzou at Morehead State

    Saturday
    • 11 a.m. - Mizzou vs. Savannah State

Henning Named SEC Player of the Week
Junior outside hitter Lisa Henning appears to be in All-American form already this season, picking up right where she left off last year. Last weekend at Lipscomb was evidence of that as she averaged 5.27 points per set, 1.22 blocks per set, 3.22 digs per set and 0.67 aces per set en-route to being named SEC Player of the Week for the first time in her career. It also marked the first time in program history that Mizzou has claimed an SEC Weekly honor. In all, the weekly laurel is the third for Henning in her career after she took home Big 12 Player of the Week twice in her sophomore season in 2011. Henning currently ranks second in the SEC in points per set (5.27) and third in kills per set (4.22).

Last Time Out
Mizzou went 3-0 behind a strong defensive effort at the Lipscomb Invitational last weekend, sweeping a trio of opponents, including Lipscomb which has been to four of the last five NCAA Tournaments. In all, Molly Kreklow was named Tournament MVP while Lisa Henning and Whitney Little were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Improved Defense Sparks Tigers
The primary reason for the Tigers' 3-0 weekend at Lipscomb was improved defensive play. In fact, after the first weekend of play, Mizzou was statistically in the bottom half of the SEC in every defensive category. But after the three matches at Lipscomb, Mizzou has climbed those rankings. Below is a look at the improvement.

    First Four Matches (SEC Rank)
    Opponent Hitting - .211 (11th)
    Digs per set - 13.69 (13th)
    Blocks ser set - 1.92 (10th)

    Next Three Matches (Current SEC Rank)
    Opponent Hitting - .111 (7th)
    Digs per set - 18.44 (5th)
    Blocks per set - 2.89 (5th)

Ace in the Hole
Another reason for the Tigers' improved play over the weekend was their serving ability as they averaged 2.56 aces per set with 23 over three matches. That moved the Tigers from eighth in the SEC in serving to second as they are now averaging 1.82 aces per set, trailing only Florida in the SEC ranks. Individually, Lisa Henning leads the way, averaging 0.50 aces per set, ranking fifth in the SEC while Molly Kreklow, Sarah Meister and Jade Hayes all rank among the league's top 11 in serving.

Historic First Two Seasons for Kreklow
Junior setter Molly Kreklow has accomplished a lot in her short career at Mizzou and the numbers show it. In fact, Kreklow has quarterbacked the Tigers to a 43-24 record (.657) over the past two seasons and a pair of NCAA Tournament wins (2-2 overall record, including a Sweet 16 appearance). The 43 wins for the Tigers over the last two seasons are the most for a Tiger setter since All-American and current assistant coach Lindsey Hunter won 45 matches from 2002-03. Kreklow already has more NCAA Tournament wins than Hunter did through her first two seasons. Also, Kreklow has set the Tigers to a .232 attack percentage in her first two seasons, the Tigers' best two-year attack percentage since 2004-05, when Hunter led the team to a .292 clip over those two seasons. Kreklow now has 49 wins in her two-plus seasons at Mizzou.

More on Kreklow
The Tigers have certainly had their fair share of great setters under the direction of Wayne and Susan Kreklow, but Molly Kreklow may be the best, although she will likely never catch Lindsey Hunter's school record of 6,097 career assists. This weekend, Kreklow will likely pass the 3,000-assist mark in her career, making her just the fifth Tiger to do so. It is worth noting that if Kreklow played in 30-point sets like her predecessors, she would be on pace to break Hunter's school record for career assists by 471.

Henning Makes History Too
Junior outside hitter Lisa Henning has been a huge asset for the Tigers in her first two seasons in black and gold as well. In fact, since the rally scoring era began (2001), no Tiger has compiled more kills in her first two seasons (four-year players) than Henning as she has posted 789 heading into the season. The next-best Tiger on the list is Jessica Vander Kooi, who tallied 678 in 2003 and 2004. Henning currently leads the team with 95 kills this season, pushing her total to 884 over her two-plus seasons. Vander Kooi holds the record for kills in a Tigers' first three seasons with 1,040. Henning needs just 156 kills to pass that mark, so that is a stat to keep an eye on this season.

    Top First Two-Year Kill Totals (four-year players)
    • Henning - 789, 884 including her third season
    •Vander Kooi - 678 in first two seasons, 1,040 in first three
    Na Yang - 602 in first two seasons, 953 in first three
More on the Tiger Junior Class
With 43 wins through their first two seasons, the Mizzou junior class has the chance to become the winningest class in program history with almost two full seasons 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 junior class has a chance to become the winningest four-year class during the modern scheduling era in program history. With three wins last weekend, the class now has 49 wins in two-plus seasons. Below is a look at the winningest four-year stretches in program history (modern scheduling era).
    Winningest Four-Year Stretches
    • 2002-05 - 90 wins
    • 2002-04 - 89 wins
    • 1982-85 - 84 wins
    • Mizzou Junior Class (Kreklow, Henning) - 49 wins

Little Second in the SEC in Hitting
Following the weekend, Mizzou middle hitter Whitney Little leads the Tigers and is second in the SEC in hitting at .438. She was named to the Lipscomb Invitational All-Tournament team last weekend after posting 20 kills on .312 hitting with eight total blocks in the three matches. Little trails only Florida's Tangerine Wiggs in the league hitting race, but Wiggs has played in 11 fewer sets than Little and has 62 fewer attacks than little and less than half the kills of Little.

Mizzou Posts Fifth-Best Attack Percentage in Program History
As a team, Mizzou hit .477 in its sweep of Nicholls State in the opening weekend, marking the fifth-best attack percentage by a Tiger team in the rally scoring era. The .477 clip is the best by a Tiger team since Dec. 3, 2005, when Mizzou defeated Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament.

Kreklow Improves Hitting
Heading into the season, junior setter Molly Kreklow was more known for her ability to run an offense, but it has been her offensive production that has caught the eye of many following the first two weekends of play. In addition to guiding the team to a .302 attack percentage, Kreklow also proved to be a formidable attacker, posting 24 kills on just 42 attacks with just one error, good for a .548 clip. While her main role will be to set up the Tiger offense, her improved attacking is reason for opponents to worry. She entered the season as just a .179 career attacker, so her .548 clip is a vast improvement. Also, last year, she tallied just 86 kills in 34 matches (2.5 per match) while she has 24 through four matches (3.5 per match) this season.

Hayes With Double-Digit Digs in Seven Straight
The libero position was one of the biggest question marks for the Tigers heading into the 2012 season as they needed to replace the production of four-year starter and last year's libero Priscilla Armendariz. But sophomore Jade Hayes appears to have given the coaching staff plenty of reason for optimism moving forward. She pulled in double-digit dig totals in all seven matches so far this season, including a career-best 17 twice. She currently leads the team with 92 digs (4.18 per set) this season and has converted 94-percent of her service receptions.

Wilson Switches to Middle Hitter
Sophomore Emily Wilson became the first Tiger freshman since 2006 to post 300 kills in season last year, but this season she has showed that she is a team player, switching to the middle hitter position. She played at that spot for the first time in her career last weekend and posted 10 kills and 10 blocks while starting all three matches. She hit just .192 as she is still taking time to adapt to the position change, the first weekend of action at that spot is reason for excitement moving forward. As a note, Wilson's older sister Catie, played middle hitter for the Tigers from 2007-2010 and was a starter on the 2010 team that advanced to the Sweet 16.

Peltier Impresses at Lipscomb
One of the reasons why it was easier to move Wilson to the middle was the emergence of freshman Regan Peltier last weekend. Peltier had 23 kills on .352 hitting last weekend over the three matches and was very impressive on the block as well, posting five in the three matches. She earned her first career start in place of an injured Taylor Simpson against Houston and posted 12 kills on 18 errorless attacks, good for a team-best .667 attack percentage this season. She came back and posted seven kills on .429 hitting at Lipscomb and closed her tournament with four kills against Appalachian State.

Tiger Passing Improves
Another key to last weekend's success was the play of the back row in the serve receive game. The Tigers' ball control was much better as they were aces just eight times, a vast improvement from a team that was aced 27 times in four matches in the opening weekend. The return of Sarah Meister helped that play as she posted a .957 serve receive percentage last weekend. Jade Hayes was also very good, posting a team-best .962 mark last weekend.

Scouting Valpo
The Crusaders come into this weekend's tournament at 4-4 overall. The strength of the team appears to be in the back row as Valpo averages 16.93 digs per set but hits just .154 as a team. Four Crusaders average at least 2.00 kills per set, led but Morgan Biel who averages 2.43 kills per set on 2.49 hitting. Ellen Vanden Berg leads the team in hitting at .271 while averaging 2.00 kills per set. Defensively, the back row is anchored by libero Taylor Root, who had 154 (4.97 per set) and has converted nearly 98-percent of her service receptions.

Series Information
Mizzou and Valparaiso have met twice in history with the most recent meeting coming in 2006. Mizzou won that meeting, 3-1, but fell the Crusaders in their only other meeting, 3-2, back in 1993.

Scouting Morehead State
The host Eagles come into the weekend at 2-5 overall with wins over Chicago State and South Dakota State. Morehead is hitting just .160 on the season and has allowed opponents to hit .208. Ellie Roberson leads the team with 97 kills on .212 hitting this season.

Series Information
The Tigers and Eagles have met just once in history and that came back in 2008 at Michigan. Mizzou won that match, 3-1, behind 16 kills from Julianna Klein. MSU's Roberson played in that match, posting two kills on .000 hitting.

Scouting Savannah State
The Savannah State Lady Tigers come into the weekend at 0-9 and have struggled. In fact, not one player hits about .100 on the season and only two are in positive numbers hitting. The Lady Tigers average just 5.59 kills per set and less than a block and ace per set. Ther strength lies in the back row as they average 11.56 digs per set. Bryana Gadis leads the Lady Tigers with 35 kills over nine matches, averaging 1.35 kills per set, but she has compiled just a -.058 attack percentage. Mizzou and Savannah State have never met.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 open their inaugural season of SEC play as No. 16 Tennessee will visit Columbia for a nationally-televised tilt on ESPNU. That match will take place Wednesday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.

 

 

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