Tigers Close Nonconference at American

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Lisa Henning is fifth in the Big 12 in points per set and sixth in kills per set.</i>
Lisa Henning is fifth in the Big 12 in points per set and sixth in kills per set.

Sept. 14, 2011

Tournament Info: American Classic
Date: Sept. 16-17
Time: Schedule Below (CT)
Location: Washington, D.C.
Arena: Bender Arena
Live Stats: AUEagles.com
Game Notes: notes Get Acrobat Reader

The Opening Serve - What You Need to Know
• The Tigers will play in their final non-conference match of the season this weekend at the American Classic in Washington, D.C. The Tigers are currently in the midst of a 13-match road trip and have gone 7-2 in the first nine matches of the trip. Following this weekend, Mizzou will have played 16 matches before starting Big 12 play next week, nearly half of the team's scheduled matches.

• Mizzou currently has more wins than any other team in the nation with 11. Seven of the Tigers' 11 wins have come against teams that won 20 matches in 2010. Mizzou is also receiving votes in the ACVA Top 25 poll as it ranks as the nation's No. 33 team this week. Mizzou has received votes in the Top 25 every week this season.

• The Tigers have claimed 18 Big 12 weekly awards since the beginning of the 2010 season and have garnered a pair of AVCA/Sports Imports National Player of the Week honors in that span. The 18 Big 12 weekly awards are more than any Big 12 school in that span. In fact, the next three do not have 18 combined in that span (Texas - 7, A&M - 5, ISU - 4).

• The Tigers continue to rank highly in several categories among Big 12 schools. Their .296 hitting percentage is second among Big 12 programs and ranks just .001 behind first-place Texas A&M. The Tigers also lead the Big 12 in digs allowed at 11.16 as the Tiger hitters have been very good this season.

What's Inside? - A Quick Look at the Notes
• The Tigers will close nonconference play at the American Classic against American, Villanova and WKU.
• Mizzou is currently in a stretch of 13 straight matches away from home. MU is 7-2 on the trip so far.
• Mizzou leads the nation with 11 wins so far this season. The next-best mark in the Big 12 is nine wins.
• Dating back to last season, Mizzou has now won 22 of its last 28 matches.
• Mizzou currently ranks second in the Big 12 in hitting at .296, just .001 behind first-place Texas A&M.
• Mizzou's .452 attack percentage against Auburn is a Big 12 season-high in 2011.
• Tiger senior Brittney Brimmage is currently leading the Big 12 in hitting at .443, ranking eighth nationally.
• Sophomore Molly Kreklow ranks third in the Big 12 in assists per set at 10.86.
Lisa Henning ranks fifth in the league in points per set (4.03) and sixth in kills per set (3.50).
• MU has claimed four Big 12 Weekly honors this season and one AVCA National Player of the Week award.
• In fact, in 2010 and three weeks of 2011, Mizzou has received 18 Big 12 Weekly honors.
• Senior libero Priscilla Armendariz is just 60 digs shy of her 1,000th career dig.
• Tiger freshmen have combined for 46-percent of the Tigers' kills and points and 54-percent of the blocks.
• Freshman Emily Wilson leads all Big 12 freshmen in kills and hitting while ranking third in kills per set.
• Freshman Whitney Little became the fastest Tiger freshman ever to 50 blocks under the Kreklows.
• Little is the Big 12's seventh-ranked blocker as she is averaging 1.20 blocks per set this season.
• Mizzou's hitters have been good this season as the Tigers lead the Big 12 in digs allowed at just 11.16.
• Head coach Wayne Kreklow sits just nine wins shy of his 400th as a collegiate women's coach.

This Week
Mizzou will play in its final non-conference tournament of the season as it gets set to travel to Washington, D.C., for the American Classic where it will battle Western Kentucky, Villanova and host school American. The tournament will begin on Friday (Sept. 16) against WKU and conclude on Saturday against Villanova and American. A complete schedule is listed below.

• Friday - Mizzou vs. Western Kentucky - 3:30 p.m. (CT)
• Saturday - Mizzou vs. Villanova - 12:30 p.m. (CT)
Mizzou at American - 6 p.m. (CT)

Last Time Out
After claiming two-straight tournament titles, the Mizzou volleyball team finished second at last weekend's Denver Pioneer Classic after going 3-1 in four matches. The Tigers' only loss came against eventual tournament champ UC-Davis in four sets on Saturday afternoon. The Tigers won a four-set match over Drake, held off UTSA in a five-set thriller and swept host-school Denver to round out the tournament. Both Lisa Henning and Molly Kreklow earned a spot on the All-Tournament team on the weekend. Henning led the Tigers with 58 kills on .248 hitting while corralling 37 digs in the four matches. She tallied her second career double-double against UTSA. Kreklow dished 153 assists while adding 58 kills, 12 blocks and seven service aces.

Lisa Henning Shines at Denver
Tiger sophomore Lisa Henning had a huge weekend at the Denver Pioneer Classic last weekend as she garnered All-Tournament honors after leading Mizzou with 58 kills on .248 hitting with 37 digs and six blocks. Henning continues to lead the Tigers with 154 kills on .298 hitting this season and her 3.50 kills per set rank sixth in the league. In fact, of the players ranked in the Big 12's top in kills per set, Henning's .298 average is fourth. But it has been her all-around game that has improved. She currently ranks third on the team in digs with 89 and leads the team with two double-doubles. Henning had never played back-row rotations at the collegiate level until this season, so her play defensively has been a pleasant surprise for the Tigers.

Team Notes
In all, the Tigers have been quite impressive this season as they have raced out to an 11-2 start, the team's best since 2005 when the Tigers started 12-2. That year, Mizzou wound up one match away from playing in the Final Four. With three wins this weekend, Mizzou would be one win shy of notching the best-ever 16-match span to open a season in program history (14-2). Below are some quick notes on the team so far this season.

• Mizzou's 11 wins are the most among all collegiate volleyball teams. The next-best national mark is 10.
• Of the Tigers' 11 wins in 2011, seven have come against teams that won at least 20 matches last season.
• The Tigers have received votes in every AVCA Top 25 poll this season and check in at No. 33 this week.
• The Tigers lead the Big 12 in digs allowed this season at 11.16 as the Tiger hitters have been very good.
• Mizzou ranks second in the Big 12 in hitting at .296, just .001 back of league-leader Texas A&M.
• Mizzou owns the league's top team hitting performance with its .452 clip in a sweep of Auburn.
• The Tigers have claimed two non-conference tournament titles while placing second at the Denver Classic.
• Dating back to last season, Mizzou has lost just six times in its last 28 matches. Four of those loses came to top-25 teams while three ranked among the nation's top 15.

Big 12 Recognition
Mizzou has had a very good run as of late, winning 22 of its last 28 matches dating back to last season and it has been rewarded in a variety of different ways, but most notably in the Big 12 weekly honors. In fact, since the start of the 2010 season, Mizzou has taken home 18 Big 12 weekly honors, including four through the first three weeks this season. The 18 awards lead the Big 12 by a wide margin in that span as the next three schools combined (Texas, Texas A&M and Iowa State) have just 18 combined awards in that span.

In that span, a pair of Tigers were named AVCA/Sports Imports National Player of the Week in that span as well. Most recently, sophomore setter Molly Kreklow earned that award following her Tiger Invitational MVP award during the first weekend of action this season.

Brimmage Continues to Lead Big 12 in Hitting
Tiger senior middle hitter Brittney Brimmage continues to lead the Big 12 in attack percentage this season at .443, just ahead of preseason Big 12 Player of the Year Rachael Adams of Texas who checks in at .411. Brimmage has been nothing short of sensational this season as she has hit better than .500 in eight of 13 matches this season and has been over .600 in four of those. Her season-best outing came against East Tennessee State at the MTSU Blue Raider Bash when she hit .773 with a career-best 18 kills. She needed just 22 attacks to get those 18 kills. That .773 clip is the fourth-best mark ever by a Tiger in a single match and of the top four, she is the only one to tally more than 11 kills.

Kreklow Third in Assists Per Set
Sophomore setter Molly Kreklow continues to quarterback the Tiger offense this season as she ranks third in the Big 12 in assists per set at 10.86. She spent the first two weeks of the season averaging well over 11.00 assists per set while ranking first in the league, but the Tiger offense sputtered a bit at last week's Denver Pioneer Classic. All-in-all, Kreklow is putting together a phenomonal year at the setter position as she has been named Big 12 Player of the Week and has garnered AVCA/Sports Imports National Player of the Week honors this season. Kreklow became just the fifth Tiger ever to take home that award and the first-ever Tiger setter.

Kreklow Improves on the Attack
Staying on the topic of Molly Kreklow, the sophomore setter has seen quite the improvement in her all-around game this season, most notably on the attack. This year, Kreklow has tallied 39 kills on .383 hitting. Through 13 matches last year, Kreklow had just 27 kills and hit just .105 with 19 errors. This year, Kreklow has just eight errors through 13 matches. Kreklow is on pace to finish the season with 99 kills on .383 hitting, an improvement from her 74 kills on .150 hitting a season ago. Kreklow has also doubled her block production compared to a season ago. This year, she has 31 blocks through 13 matches while she had just 14 at this point last year.

Freshmen Continue to Produce
After 13 matches this season, it is clear that the Tiger freshman class is going to play a key role in the team's success this season. In fact, Tiger freshmen have combined to make up 267 of the Tigers' 582 kills (46-percent), 59.0 of the team's 110.0 total blocks (54-percent) and 356.0 of the team's 758.0 total points (47-percent). The Tiger freshman class has also combined to pull in 214 of the team's 540 digs (40-percent).

Block Party
One reason for the Tigers' fast start this season has been their blocking ability. In fact, Mizzou is averaging 2.50 total blocks per set this season, a vast improvement from last year when Mizzou averaged just 1.95 blocks per set through the first 13 matches. One key has been the improved blocking of Molly Kreklow (noted above) but the key has been the addition or freshman Whitney Little. Little, who is basically filling the same position as Catie Wilson from a year ago, has 53 blocks this season, 25 more than Wilson had through 13 matches last season.

Nifty Fifty Whitney
Over the weekend, Tiger freshman Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) surpassed the 50-block mark in the Tigers' 13th match of the season against Denver. She is the fatest Tiger freshman to reach to the 50-block mark under the direction of Wayne and Susan Kreklow (since 2000). Currently, Little has a team-high 53 blocks and her 1.20 blocks per set rank her seventh in the Big 12 Conference. Adding to her production, Little is hitting .366 with 52 kills this season.

Wilson Continues to Impress
One of the freshmen that has continued to put up great numbers so far this season has been Emily Wilson. Wilson was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week in each of the first two weekends of play and has been one of the Tigers' top attackers all season with 127 kills on .309 hitting, averaging 2.89 per set. Her 127 kills this season are tops among Big 12 freshmen and she is third among Big 12 freshmen in kills per set. Her .309 clip is also second among Big 12 freshmen this season trailing only OU's Grace Whitley, who is hitting .341. But, Wilson is the top-rated freshman attacker with more than 50 kills as Wilson has more kills (127) than Whitley has attacks (88).

Pip is 60 Digs From 1,000 for Her Career
Heading into the American Classic, senior libero Priscilla Armendariz sits just 60 digs shy of cracking the 1,000-dig mark in her career. Should she pass the 1,000-dig plateau, her next milestone would be cracking the all-time top-10 at Mizzou as she would be just 32 digs away from 10th place all-time. Only 10 players in school history have surpassed the 1,000-dig mark.

Kreklow Nine Shy of 400
Heading into the season, Mizzou head coach Wayne Kreklow sat 20 wins shy of his 400th as a head volleyball coach, but after three wins over the weekend, he now sits just nine shy of 400 in his career. Should he reach 400 this season, he will be one of just three coaches in the Big 12 to have cracked the 400-win plateau. Kreklow surpassed his 600th win all-time as a coach (assistant, men's coach, women's coach) at both Mizzou and Columbia College two weeks ago with the Tigers' win over Florida International. In all, Wayne and Susan Kreklow have combined for 742 wins as a coaching duo, 233 of which have come during their 11-plus seasons at Mizzou.

Ace in the Hole
Mizzou served up a season-high 10 aces in its sweep of Denver last Saturday in the Denver Pioneer Classic. That mark is the second-best total by a Big 12 team this season and the second-best total in three-set match.

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.

Scouting Western Kentucky
The Western Kentucky volleyball team has a current record of 9-1 with its only loss to Kentucky in the Kentucky Classic. The team depends on the experience of junior Jordyn Skinner, who leads in kills per set at 4.50, and sophomore Ashley Potts who leads in digs per set with 5.80. The Western Kentucky team has had four NCAA tournament appearances and has claimed seven Sun Belt Conference East division titles since 2007.

Scouting Villanova
The Villanova volleyball team has a record of 7-3 and won the Big Five Tournament at Palestra last weekend. Senior libero Kim Maroon has been named to the BIG EAST honor roll and has 6.50 digs per set this season. Redshirt Junior Morgan Petkovich leads the team in kills per set with 3.14

Scouting American
The American volleyball team has a record of 4-6 after going 2-1 at the Cornell Invitational. The team relies on its young players with freshman Sarah Rishell and sophomore Juliana Crum who were both named onto the Cornell Invitation all tournament team. Rishell has also received the Patriot League Molton Rookie of the Week award and leads the team in kills per set with 3.34 and blocks per set with .94. Crum leads the team with digs per set at 2.69.

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 on that average last year with 22 wins and a Sweet 16 berth.

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.

California Girls
On this year's Mizzou roster, fans may notice something that they haven't seen under Wayne and Susan Kreklow. Two players on this year's roster - Niki Collier and Sarah Meister - hail from California, marking the first California natives that the Kreklows have coached at Mizzou. Both have seen significant court time this year and are am important part of the Tiger freshman class that ranked No. 22 nationally.

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 Whitney 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.

Blue Springs Connection
Looking at the Tiger roster, there is a connection between several players coming from the Kansas City area as four players - Priscilla Armendariz, Lisa Henning and Ashton Bodenstab - hail from Blue Springs, Mo. Also, Overland Park, Kan., native Lindsey Petrick played on the same club team with Bodenstab as the four players played with and against each other a lot while growing up.

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.

`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 begin conference play next week as it opens with a televised match with Iowa State at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The match will air live on ESPNU and feature two of the Big 12's top teams this season. The Tigers will then return home Saturday for its Big 12 home opener against Texas A&M at 2 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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