Volleyball Returns Home With Nation's Best Record

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MUTIGERS.COM

Sept. 17, 2013

Mizzou Volleyball Hosts Mizzou Classic
When Sept. 20-21 |  Friday - Noon vs. Samford, 6:30 vs. Towson | Saturday - 2 p.m. vs. SEMO, 6:30 vs. MTSU
Location Columbia, Mo. | The Hearnes Center
Tickets Click Here
TV None
Live Stream Mizzou Network
Online Coverage GT vs. Samford | GT vs. Towson | GT vs. SEMO | GT vs. MTSU
Printable Game Notes Mizzou
Season Stats Mizzou | Samford | Towson | SEMO | Middle Tennessee
Series History Mizzou is 12-4 against this week's opponents
Last Meeting Mizzou Lost to MTSU, 3-1, in 2011
Streak NA
Social Media @MizzouVB,| Mizzou Network 

What's Inside - A Quick Look at the Notes
• As one of 12 unbeatens in the country with a national-best 11 wins, the Tigers host the Mizzou Classic this weekend
• The Tigers are the only undefeated team left in the SEC.
• Mizzou is 12-4 all-time against this weekend's field, which includes Samford, Towson, SEMO and MTSU
• Should Mizzou win its first two matches this weekend, it would be off to the best start since 1982 (19-0).
• The current best start to a season in the Kreklow era (2000-present) is 12-0 in 2005
• Mizzou leads the nation in hitting (.375), is second in assists (14.60) and third in kills (15.40).
• In fact, Mizzou is the only team in the nation to rank in the top five of all three major offensive categories.
Molly Kreklow leads the nation in assists per set (12.83) and Whitney Little leads the nation in hitting (.569).
• Mizzou is also second in the SEC in service aces per set with 1.83, trailing on Mississippi State (1.95).
• Mizzou has five players ranked among the top 14 in hitting percentage in the SEC this season, a league-best.
Molly Kreklow earned her third tournament MVP honors last week after being voted Rice Invitational MVP.
• Joining Kreklow on the Rice Invite All-Tournament team were senior Lisa Henning and freshman Carly Kan.
• The Tiger freshmen continue to make huge impacts, in particular Carly Kan and Emily Thater.
• All-American Lisa Henning is second in the SEC and 14th nationally in both kills and points per set.
• Junior Emily Wilson has raised her attack percentage from .121 through the first three matches to .347.
• Thater, with 1.21 blocks per set, is the second-best blocking freshman in the SEC.
• Kan, at .361 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 (73 wins) has a shot of winning the third-most games over a four-year span at Mizzou (currently 84).
• Henning posted 44 kills last weekend, moving her career total to 1,454, the top active mark in the SEC.
• Henning is now just 204 kills and 301.0 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 (.252).

Tigers Return Home With Nation's Best Record
With a national-best 11 wins and as one of just 12 unbeaten teams in the nation, the Mizzou volleyball team returns home this weekend as it hosts the Mizzou Classic. This is first year that Mizzou has hosted the Mizzou Classic since Wayne and Susan Kreklow took over the program in 2000 as the Tigers welcome Towson, Samford, SEMO and Middle Tennessee to the two-day event. Below is the tournament schedule.

    Friday
    10 a.m. - Towson vs. SEMO
    Noon - Mizzou vs. Samford
    4 p.m. - Middle Tenn. vs. SEMO
    6:30 p.m. - Mizzou vs. Towson

    Saturday
    10 a.m. - SEMO vs. Samford
    Noon - Towson vs. Middle Tenn
    2 p.m. - Mizzou vs. SEMO
    4 p.m. - Samford vs. Towson
    6:30 p.m. - Mizzou vs. Middle Tenn

Tigers Lead Nation in Wins; One of 12 Unbeatens Nationally
Heading into the weekend at a perfect 11-0, Mizzou leads the nation in wins so far this season and are one of just 12 unbeatens nationally. The Tigers are also the only unbeaten team left in the Southeastern Conference. Mizzou is also one of just eight teams nationally to post double-digit wins after the first three weeks of the season as well. Below is a look at the other unbeatens and who they play this weekend.
    • Utah - at New Mexico St.
    • DePaul - SIUE, Georgia St., Ark Pine Bluff
    • Washington State - Idaho, Seattle, Nevada
    • Buffalo - Valparaiso, MES, Ohio St.
    • American - Irvine, Fresno St., Xavier, Fullerton
    • North Carolina - Illinois, Indiana<
    • West Virginia - Liberty, Georgetown, UMBC
    • Colorado State - Texas A&M
    • Ohio State - MES, Valparaiso, Buffalo
    • Washington - Coppin St., Cal State Northridge
    • Jacksonville - FGCU, Stetson

Mizzou Off to Best Start Since 2005, Could Pass That Mark This Weekend
As mentioned above, Mizzou is 11-0 this season, just one win shy of matching its best start to a season since Wayne and Susan Kreklow took over the program in 2000. Their best start to a year came in 2005 when the team won its first 12 matches before losing to No. 1 Nebraska - that team eventually advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight. Should the Tigers sweep Friday's matches against Samford and Towson, they will be 13-0 and off to their best start since 1982 when the team won its first 19 matches.

Final Tune-Up Before SEC Play
This weekend's Mizzou Classic will serve as the Tigers' final tune-up before they open SEC play at the Hearnes Center next Friday against South Carolina. Of course, Mizzou has the SEC's best record right now, but is coming off of a 10-10 season in its inaugural year in the SEC. The Tigers were picked to finish third in a loaded SEC East this season.

Last Time Out
Mizzou claimed the Rice Invitational Tournament Championship after winning three matches in two days over NC State, Rice and Houston Baptist. NC State was an NCAA Tournament team from a season ago that returned five starters and nine letterwinners and Mizzou swept that match to open the tournament. The Tigers then swept Conference USA favorite Rice on its home floor later that night before coming back Saturday morning to defeat Houston Baptist in straight set. Senior setter Molly Kreklow was named Tournament MVP for the third consecutive weekend while senior Lisa Henning and freshman Carly Kan were named to the All-Tournament Team.

Tigers in the Mizzou Classic
This year's Mizzou Classic is the first time under the direction of Wayne and Susan Kreklow that the tournament will be held. The Tigers are 12-4 against this year's field - 10-3 vs. SEMO, 1-1 vs. Middle Tennessee and 1-0 vs. Towson. The Tigers and Samford have never met. The last meeting between Mizzou and any of those teams came in a 3-1 loss at Middle Tennessee in 2011.

Wins Away From Home
Worth noting this season has been the Tigers ability to win away from home. In fact, the Tigers have won seven matches away from the Hearnes Center this season, two shy of their total wins away from home last season (nine). Three of the Tigers' seven wins away from home have come in true road contests as well, two of which came against teams that went to the NCAA Tournament a year ago (Yale, Fairfield). Mizzou had just five true road wins all of last season.

Kreklow Continues to `Set' The Table
Although Molly Kreklow's 12.83 assists per set are a national-best at this point of the season, that total would rank just sixth in school history in a single season. However, keep in mind that Kreklow is playing in 25-point sets while her predecessors all played in 30-point sets. If you average out her current assists per set clip to 30-point sets, she would be averaging 15.40 per set, nearly a full assist ahead of the school record (Lindsey Hunter, 14.43 in 2004).

More on Kreklow
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.

Offense Fires on All Cylinders
Through the first 11 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 (.375), second in assists (14.60) and third in kills (15.40)
    Molly Kreklow leads the nation in assists (12.83) and Whitney Little leads the nation in hitting (.569)
    • Mizzou better than .333 in 10 of 11 matches this season and has hit .390 or better six times
    • Mizzou also is second the SEC in service aces per set (1.83) and ranks 19th nationally
Offense Shows Incredible Balance
Over the past two years, the Mizzou offense could be summed up by one phrase: Kreklow-to-Henning. But this year it has been the offensive balance that has the coaching staff excited. Mizzou's top five attackers are all averaging at least 1.70 kills per set while the top four are averaging at least 2.29. That has led to the gaudy hitting percentages as the balance has led to all five of the Tigers' top attackers hitting .347 or better. If you throw in Kreklow, the team's setter, the top six Tiger attackers are averaging 14.20 kills per set on .404 hitting.

Little With National-Low Six Attack Errors
So far this season, junior middle blocker Whitney Little has just six attack errors, the lowest of any player in the nation who averages at least 3.33 attacks per set this season. She is tied for the lead in that category with Penn State's Katie Slay, who has 42 fewer attacks than Little this season. In fact, Little is averaging just one error every 21.67 attacks this season, the second-best in the nation.

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 three weekends of play, she has not disappointed, averaging 4.54 kills per set on .353 hitting with 90 total digs. In fact, Henning is second in the SEC in kills per set (4.54), points per set (5.10) and is 11th in hitting (.353).

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 three 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 3.03 kills per set on .361 hitting and is the top attacking freshman at the outside hitter position in the SEC with her .361 clip ... She led Mizzou with a career-high 16 kills on .424 hitting in its biggest win of the season at Yale ... Is also a six-rotation passer and is averaging 2.54 digs per set this season ... Is 10th in the SEC in hitting with her .361 clip and 12th in aces with 0.34 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 seventh in the SEC in hitting at .389, ninth in service aces (0.36) and fourth 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 ... Is averaging 2.79 digs per set over her last six matches and has converted 60 of her 62 service receptions (97-percent).

Julia Towler - Hitting .381 with 11 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.

Wilson With a Big Week
Junior Emily Wilson has been on a tear over her last eight matches. In fact, she hit an uncharacteristic .121 in her first three matches but has since hit .399 with 3.05 kills per set, raising her hitting percentage from .121 to .347, 14th-best in the SEC this season. In her first three matches of the season, she averaged just 1.57 kills per set and 1.00 errors per set, so her turnaround has been key for the Tiger offense as she offers another big swing. Wilson was a 2011 All-Big 12 Freshman Team honoree that if she plays at that level again this season, will give Mizzou a huge swing all year.

Scouting Samford
The Samford Bulldogs went 2-2 last weekend at the Kansas State Invite after losses to Coastal Carolina and Kennesaw State and wins against Stony Brook and Tennessee Tech. The Bulldogs are 7-5 on the season. Senior Katie Murphy earned her 1,000th career kill on Saturday becoming the 10th player to that mark in Samford history. Samford averages 13.4 kills per set on 12.1 assists per set. Mizzou and Samford have never met.

Scouting Towson
The Towson Tigers travel to Columbia, Mo. with a 4-8 overall record after losing five of their last seven matches. The Tigers are hitting .158 and average 1.4 aces per set. Townson is led by Saitaua Iosia and Victoria Williams each with more than 100 kills on the season. Mizzou is 1-0 in its history with Towson after a 3-1 win in 1998.

Scouting SEMO
The SEMO Redhawks enter the weekend 5-4 after splitting the final day of the Ohio State Tournament last weekend. The Redhawks dropped their match against Ohio State 3-1, but were able to take their second match from IUPUI 3-2. SEMO is hitting .159 with Colleen Yarber leading the way with 116 kills on the season. Mizzou is 10-3 all-time vs. SEMO with the last meeting coming in 2004, a 3-0 win for Mizzou.

Scouting Middle Tennessee
The Blue Raiders come into this weekend's tournament with a 6-4 overall record. They are hitting .215 as a team and are led by Chelsea Ross, who averages 3.33 kills per set, but has just a .170 attack clip. The Raiders to average 2.53 blocks per set. Mizzou is 1-1 all-time vs. Middle Tennessee. The Raiders claimed the last meeting between the two team, a 3-1 win at Middle Tennessee during the 2011 season.

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 .354 career attack percentage, also the best in school history. Much of that is due to her torrid start as she is hitting a national-best .569 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 73 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 rank third all-time in Mizzou history - the goal is still within reach as 17 wins would tie the mark.

    Winningest Four-Year Stretches
    • 2002-05 - 90 wins
    • 2002-04 - 89 wins
    • 1982-85 - 84 wins
    • Mizzou Senior Class - 73 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 with 1,454 in her career and sits just 321 kills of fourth in SEC history during the rally scoring era. She is also just 204 kills shy of the Mizzou all-time career kills record (1,658 by Shen Danru). Henning also needs just 301.0 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 (109 matches, 390 sets) and is fourth all-time at Mizzou with 4,335 career assists. She has also guided Mizzou to its second-best three-year hitting percentage in program history at .252, trailing only the team from 2003-05, which was anchored by All-American setter and current assistant coach Lindsey Hunter.

Some Notables This Season
Mizzou has already accomplished a lot in just 11 matches. Below is a quick look at some major achievements.

    Molly Kreklow was named SEC Player of the Week on Sept. 9, the first of her decorated career
    • The Tigers limited Seton Hall to .000 hitting, its best since holding Savannah State to -.075 in 2012
    • Mizzou hit .458 in a win over Pitt, a school record for hitting a four-set match and best since 2007
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.

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 1,454, 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 2,533 career kills. What is even more remarkable is that the trio has accumulated those kills on a combined .260 hitting with two players (Henning and Wilson) playing on the outside. Below is a look at their ranks.

SEC Rank Player Kills
1. Henning 1,454
11. Wilson 572
15. Little 507

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.

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.

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.

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
Mizzou will appear on national television through the SEC TV 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.

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
This weekend is the final tune-up for the Tigers before they begin SEC play with South Carolina on Sept. 27.

 

 

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