Volleyball Takes National-Best Record to Rice Invite

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Sept. 10, 2013

Mizzou Volleyball at Rice Invitational
When Sept. 13-14 |  Friday - Noon vs. NC State, 7:30 at Rice | Saturday - 11 a.m. vs. HBU
Location Houston, Texas | Tudor Fieldhouse
Tickets Click Here
TV None
Live Stream Mizzou Network
Online Coverage Tournament Central
Printable Game Notes Mizzou
Season Stats Mizzou | NC State | Rice | Houston Baptist
Series History Mizzou is 3-0 against this week's opponents
Last Meeting Mizzou Defeated Rice, 3-0, in 2010
Streak Mizzou is 7-4 in the third weekend of play since 2010
Social Media @MizzouVB,| Mizzou Network 

What's Inside - A Quick Look at the Notes
• Leading the nation with a perfect 8-0 record, Mizzou heads to Houston for the Rice Invitational this weekend.
• Mizzou will play 2012 NCAA Tournament team NC State, Conference USA favorite Rice and Houston Baptist.
• Since 2010, Mizzou has struggled in the third weekend of play with just a 7-4 overall record.
• The Tigers are off to their best start since 2005 at 8-0. In 2005, the team won its first 12 matches.
• Mizzou leads the nation in hitting (.378), is second in assists (14.46) and third in kills (15.31).
Molly Kreklow leads the nation in assists per set (12.85) and Whitney Little leads the nation in hitting (.606).
• In fact, Mizzou is the only team in the nation to rank in the top five of all three major offensive categories.
• Mizzou also leads the SEC in service aces per set (2.08) and ranks 10th nationally in that category.
• Kreklow was named SEC Player of the Week for the first time in her career this week on Monday.
• Kreklow was the Yale Invitational MVP last weekend while Lisa Henning and Emily Wilson were All-Tournament.
• The Tiger freshmen continue to make huge impacts, in particular Carly Kan and Emily Thater.
• All-American Lisa Henning is fourth in the SEC in kills and points per set.
• Junior Emily Wilson had a big weekend at Yale, raising her hitting percentage from .194 to .325.
• Freshman Emily Thater was the first Tiger to have 22 blocks in the first four matches of the season since 2000.
• Thater, with 1.17 blocks per set, is the second-best blocking freshman in the SEC.
• Kan, at .377 hitting, is the top-ranked SEC freshman outside hitter in that category.
• 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.
• Seniors Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning are one of the four winningest classes in program history entering 2013.
• The senior class (70 wins) has a shot of winning the third-most games over a four-year span at Mizzou (currently 84).
• Henning posted 54 kills last weekend, moving her career total to 1,410, the top active mark in the SEC.
• Henning is now just 248 kills and 353.0 points shy of the all-time Mizzou career record in both categories.
• Kreklow has guided the Tigers to their second-best three-year hitting percentage in school history (.249).

Tigers Take National-Best Record to Rice Invitational
At a national-best 8-0, the Mizzou volleyball team will put its unblemished record on the line this weekend in arguably its toughest test of the season at the Rice Invitational. The Tigers will square off against NC State, an NCAA Tournament team that returns nine letterwinners from a year ago, Conference USA favorite Rice and Houston Baptist, a team that swept fellow SEC member Alabama earlier this season. Below is Mizzou's schedule.

    Friday
    Mizzou vs. NC State - Noon
    Mizzou at Rice - 7:30 p.m.

    Saturday
    Mizzou vs. Houston Baptist - 11 a.m.

Mizzou Off to Best Start Since 2005
Mizzou has won its first eight matches this season and is off to its best start since 2005 when the team opened 12-0 before falling to No. 1 Nebraska. That year, Mizzou advanced all the way to the Elite Eight. This season, Mizzou is one of just 27 teams nationally that are still undefeated and it is one of just two teams with eight wins so far - the other is Valparaiso, a team that Mizzou swept in 2012.

Tigers in the Third Weekend
Since the 2010 season, Mizzou has had a somewhat disappointing performance in the third weekend of play and it will look to buck that trend this weekend. In fact, Mizzou is a modest 7-4 over the last three seasons in the third weekend of play. Last year, Mizzou went 2-1 with wins over Valparaiso and Savannah State and a loss at Morehead State.

Last Time Out
The Tigers defeated four teams last weekend, including three that won their conference a season ago, as they participated in the Yale Invitational and a stand-alone match at Fairfield last Thursday. As a team Mizzou hit .351 and averaged 14.92 kills per set while limiting their opponents to just .166 hitting. Senior setter Molly Kreklow was named Tournament MVP for the second consecutive weekend and earned SEC Player of the Week for her efforts. Senior All-American Lisa Henning and junior outside hitter Emily Wilson each earned spots on the All-Tournament team as well.

Offense Fires on All Cylinders
Through the first eight matches of the season, it is pretty clear that the Tiger offense has been playing at a very high level. In fact, when the NCAA national statistics were posted this week, the Tigers rank among the national elite in nearly every statistical category. Below are a few talking points on the Tiger offense.

    • Tigers are the only team nationally to rank in the top five in every offensive category (kills, assists, hitting)
    • Mizzou ranks first nationally in hitting (.378), second in assists (14.46) and third in kills (15.31)
    Molly Kreklow leads the nation in assists (12.85) and Whitney Little leads the nation in hitting (.606)
    • Mizzou has yet to hit lower than .333 in a match this season and has hit .390 or better four times
    • Mizzou also leads the SEC in service aces per set (2.08) and ranks 10th nationally

Kreklow Named SEC Player of the Week
Senior setter Molly Kreklow was named SEC Player of the Week, as announced by the league office on Monday (Sept. 9). Kreklow was named Yale Invitational MVP last weekend and has helped the Tigers to an 8-0 start, their best record to open a season since 2005. She also has the Tigers ranked first in the SEC in kills per set, hitting and assists per set. The weekly award for Kreklow is her first SEC Player of the Week honor and the first conference weekly nod since taking home Big 12 Player of the Week on Aug. 29, 2011.

Wilson With a Big Week
Junior Emily Wilson gave Mizzou a huge boost last weekend at Yale and was one of the key reasons why Mizzou was able to defeat Yale in its toughest match of the season. She came off the bench in that match and tallied 13 kills on .423 hitting, a big boost as All-American Lisa Henning was struggling with her swing. But it didn't stop there for Wilson as she earned All-Tournament honors after posting 2.91 kills per set on .459 hitting last weekend. In fact, after a slow first three matches, Wilson has been on fire over her last five, averaging 3.14 kills per set on .400 hitting. She was averaging just 1.57 kills per set on .121 hitting in her first three and has seen her average raise from .121 to .325 in the last five matches.

Kreklow Sets the Table
So far this season, there have been few setters in the country that have had more of an impact than Molly Kreklow as she is arguably the top setter in the nation at this point of the season. Not only is she leading the nation in assists (12.85), but she has set the Tigers to arguably the best offense in the nation. The Tigers are converting exactly 50-percent (334 of 668) of her sets into kills this season, up from her 2012 average of just 40-percent.

Henning Impresses
After earning AVCA Third Team All-America honors in each of the last two seasons, there were big expectations for senior Lisa Henning heading into the season. After the first two weekends of play, she has not disappointed, averaging 4.42 kills per set on .338 hitting with 67 total digs. In fact, Henning is fourth in the SEC in kills per set (4.42), points per set (4.87) and is 17th in hitting (.338).

Freshmen Make Impact
Heading into the season, it was clear that the Mizzou freshman class was going to play a huge role in 2013, but after the first two weekends of play it is even more evident. There are four Tiger freshmen who have made huge contributions so far. Below is a look.

    Carly Kan - A first team High School All-American, Kan is averaging 3.00 kills per set on .377 hitting and is the top attacking freshman at the outside hitter position in the SEC with her .377 clip ... She led Mizzou with a career-high 16 kills on .424 hitting in its biggest win of the season at Yale ... She is also a six-rotation passer and is averaging 2.31 digs per set this season ... Is 12th in the SEC in hitting with her .377 clip and fifth in aces with 0.46 per set and 16th in points per set (3.56) ... Her .650 clip vs. Pitt is the best attack clip by an outside in the SEC this season.

    Emily Thater - Became the first Tiger with at least 22 blocks in the first four matches of a season since All-American Chirsti Myers in 2000 and is the only Tiger to do so in the rally scoring era ... Is fourth in the SEC in hitting at .449, eighth in service aces (0.42) and fifth in blocks ... Her eight blocks against Idaho State are the most in a three-set match in the SEC this season ... She is the second-best blocking freshman in the SEC.

    Loxley Keala - Has started all eight matches for the Tigers and has been a great passer and defensive player in the back row ... Has double-digit digs in each of her last two matches and is averaging 3.10 per set in her last three matches.

    Julia Towler - Hitting .500 with nine kills this season in limited action, but she tied a Mizzou rally scoring record with five solo blocks in Mizzou's three-set sweep of Seton Hall at the Yale Invitational.

Mizzou Limits Seton Hall to .000 Hitting
In Mizzou's win over Seton Hall last weekend, the Tigers limited the Pirates to .000 hitting, in large part thanks to 13.0 total blocks in just three sets. The clip was the best by the Tigers since Sept. 8, 2012, when they limited Savannah State to -.075 hitting in the Morehead State Eagle Challenge.

Tigers Break School Record vs. Pitt
In Mizzou's 3-1 win over Pittsburgh last Saturday, the team set a school four-set record with its .458 attack clip. The attack percentage was the Tigers' best in any match since 2007 and also ranks 14th in school history. In fact, Mizzou converted 58-percent of its attacks into kills in that match.

Little Rewriting Record Books
After resetting the Mizzou single season blocks record in both her freshman and sophomore seasons, Little enters the weekend ranked first all-time at Mizzou with a 1.14 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. Aside from her blocking, Little also boasts a .351 career attack percentage, also the bets in school history. Much of that is due to her torrid start as she is hitting a national-best .606 this season.

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 66 wins, four NCAA Tournament matches and an NCAA Sweet 16. They 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.

Seniors Rank Among All-Time Winningest Classes
With 70 wins through their first three-plus seasons, the Mizzou senior class (Kreklow, Henning) has a chance to become one of the winningest classes in program history with nearly 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 20 wins would tie the mark.

    Winningest Four-Year Stretches
    • 2002-05 - 90 wins
    • 2002-04 - 89 wins
    • 1982-85 - 84 wins
    • Mizzou Senior Class - 70 wins

Scouting NC State
The North Carolina State Wolfpack, led by three returning seniors, kicks off its run at the Rice Invitational on Friday at noon against the Missouri Tigers. NC State and head coach Bryan Bunn have had a hot start in 2013, jumping out to 6-0, and are hoping to build on their 2012 12-8 finish in the ACC and an NCAA Tournament appearance. Mizzou and the Wolfpack last met in 2002 with the Tigers claiming a 3-0 sweep at the Hearnes Center.

Scouting Rice
Rice, the host of the invitational this weekend, looks to build on their 19-win 2012 season this year. The Owls are currently 1-5 in non-conference play and will take on the Tigers Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. 2013 marks head coach Genny Volpe's 10th season with Rice, earning 166 wins and three NCAA Tournament appearances with the Owls. Rice was picked to win Conference USA this season. Volpe currently has a 0-1 record against Missouri. Mizzou and Rice last met in 2010 in the Pepperdine Invitational with the Tigers coming out on top, 3-0. The teams also met back in 1983 with Mizzou earning a sweep.

Scouting Houston Baptist
The Houston Baptist Huskies are off to a 4-3 start in non-conference 2013 play. Second-year Huskies head coach, Trent Herman, had a successful first season at HBU, tying for first place in the Great West Conference with an overall record of 20-11. The six returning letterwinners and six newcomers will take on Missouri Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. Mizzou and Houston Baptist have never met, however the Huskies to have an impressive sweep over fellow SEC team Alabama earlier this season.

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 with 1,410 in her career and sits just 365 kills of fourth in SEC history during the rally scoring era. She is also just 248 kills shy of the Mizzou all-time career kills record (1,658 by Shen Danru). Henning also needs just 353.0 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 (106 matches, 381 sets) and is fourth all-time at Mizzou with 4,220 career assists. She has also guided Mizzou to its second-best three-year hitting percentage in program history at .249, trailing only the team from 2003-05, which was anchored by All-American setter and current assistant coach Lindsey Hunter.

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.

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.

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 1,410, 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 2,450 career kills. Henning is first with 1,410 while junior Emily Wilson checks in at 12th with 549 (the second-best mark among SEC juniors) and junior Whitney Little is 18th with 491. 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 1,410
    12 Wilson 549
    18. Little 491
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.

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. The two were beach partners their senior year.

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.

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-plus seasons, Mizzou has claimed 31 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
The Tigers will return home to face Samford, Towson, Middle Tennessee State and SEMO in the Mizzou Classic at the Hearnes Center next weekend. It will be the final weekend of non-conference play for the Tigers. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouVB.

 

 

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