Tigers Return Home to Face Aggies

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Emily Wilson is leading all Big 12 freshmen in kills.</i>
Emily Wilson is leading all Big 12 freshmen in kills.

Sept. 22, 2011

Match Info: Mizzou (13-4, RV) vs. Texas A&M (11-2, RV)
Date: Sept. 24
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Arena: Hearnes Center
Video: MUTigers.tv
Live Stats: Click Here
Twitter Updates: @MU_Volleyball
Game Notes: Media Notes Get Acrobat Reader

The Opening Serve - What You Need to Know
• The Mizzou volleyball team returns to the Hearnes Center for the first time in nearly a month as it will take on Texas A&M in a Big 12 showdown at 2 p.m. on Saturday (Sept. 24). Texas A&M was picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 while the Tigers were picked fifth, setting up what should be a great early-season match for the Tigers.

• Mizzou's 13 wins this season rank second in the Big 12 behind only No. 25 Oklahoma, which currently has 14 wins after knocking off Baylor, 3-1, in Waco on Wednesday. Mizzou has already played 17 matches and they are not yet through the first month of the 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 - 8, A&M - 5, ISU - 4).

• The Kreklows coached their 900th career women's collegiate volleyball match at Iowa State on Wednesday. The 900 matches include Susan Kreklow's time as a head coach and Wayne Kreklow's time as a head coach combined. Susan is now the director of volleyball at Mizzou. Although the duo was dealt a loss in that contest, the Kreklows have still managed to win 691 of their 900 career women's volleyball matches, good for at .768 winning percentage.

What's Inside? - A Quick Look at the Notes
• Mizzou will play at home for the first time in nearly a month against Texas A&M on Saturday at 2 p.m.
• The home match on Saturday ends a school-record 13-match road trip for the Tigers.
• Mizzou swept the season-series with A&M in 2010, sweeping at home and winning in five on the road.
• Wednesday's match at ISU was the 900th career women's match for Wayne and Susan Kreklow.
• Wayne and Susan as a head coaching duo sit just nine wins shy of their 700th as a coaching tandem as well.
• Head coach Wayne Kreklow sits just seven wins shy of his 400th as a collegiate women's coach.
• Dating back to last season, Mizzou has won 24 of its last 32 matches.
• Mizzou pulled in 104 digs last weekend against Villanova, good for the Tigers' best mark since 2003.
• The 104 digs by the Tigers is also 13th all-time at Mizzou and the second-best total in the rally scoring era.
• Setter Molly Kreklow recorded the Tigers' first 20-20 effort since Sept. 17, 2008, last weekend vs. Villanova.
• Kreklow made her 50th straight start at Iowa State and became the sixth Tiger to surpass 2,000 career assists.
• Tiger senior Brittney Brimmage is currently second in the Big 12 in hitting at .388.
• Sophomore Lisa Henning ranks fifth in the league in points per set (4.10) and sixth in kills per set (3.63).
• MU has claimed four Big 12 Weekly honors this season and one AVCA National Player of the Week award.
• In fact, in 2010 and four weeks of 2011, Mizzou has received 18 Big 12 Weekly honors, a Big 12-best.
• Senior libero Priscilla Armendariz is just four digs shy of her 1,000th career dig.
• Should Armendariz surpass 1,000 career digs, she will be the 11th player in Mizzou history to do so.
• Freshman Emily Wilson leads all Big 12 freshmen in kills while ranking fourth in kills per set.

What's On Tap
After 13 straight matches away from home, the Tigers will finally return to the friendly confines of the Hearnes Center as they host Texas A&M in a Big 12 showdown on Saturday (Sept. 24) at 2 p.m. The match is the Tigers' Big 12 home-opener and will serve as the Aggies' Big 12 opener after they were idle on Wednesday evening. The match will be the Tigers' first home contest since they blanked North Dakota State, 3-0, on August 27 as they have not played a home match in nearly a month.

Last Time Out
Mizzou dropped a three-set (12-25, 18-25, 21-25) match at No. 16 Iowa State on Wednesday (Sept. 21) at Hilton Coliseum. The match aired live on ESPNU. Mizzou hit just .191 in the match but saw good performances from outside hitters Lisa Henning and Emily Wilson. Henning finished with a match-high 13 kills and was just one dig shy of her fifth double-double with nine. Wilson also had a fine match, registering eight kills on .421 hitting with a pair of blocks.

Wayne and Susan Kreklow Reach 900 Matches
Wednesday's match at Iowa State was Wayne and Susan Kreklow's 900th career match as collegiate women's volleyball head coaches. Unfortunately, Wednesday's match ended in a loss for the Kreklows, but of the 900 women's matches that they have coached, they have won 691, good for a .768 winning percentage.

Kreklow Seven Shy of 400
Staying on the topic of head coaching milestones, Mizzou head coach Wayne Kreklow sat 20 wins shy of his 400th as a head volleyball coach entering the season, but after two wins over the weekend, he now sits just seven 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 with the Tigers' win over Florida International earlier this season. In all, Wayne and Susan Kreklow have combined for 744 wins as a coaching duo, 235 of which have come during their 11-plus seasons at Mizzou.

Team Notes
In all, the Tigers have been quite impressive this season as they have raced out to an 13-4 start, the team's best since 2005 when the Tigers started 15-2. That year, Mizzou wound up one match away from playing in the Final Four. Below are some quick notes on the team so far this season.

• Mizzou's 13 wins are second-most among all Big 12 teams, trailing Oklahoma who is 14-3.
• Of the Tigers' 13 wins in 2011, nine 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. 38 this week.
• Mizzou ranks third in the Big 12 in hitting at .266, just .003 back of second-place Oklahoma.
• Mizzou owns the league's top team hitting performance with its .452 clip in a sweep of Auburn.
• The Tigers have claimed two nonconference tournament titles while placing second at the Denver and American Classics over the last two weeks.
• Dating back to last season, Mizzou has lost just eight times in its last 32 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 24 of its last 31 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 four 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 17 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.

Tigers Keep Digging
Heading into the American Classic last weekend, Mizzou was last in the Big 12 in digs per set, but you wouldn't have been able to tell by their performance over the three matches, most notably against Villanova. In fact, Mizzou pulled in 104 digs in that match, the Tigers' second-most in the rally scoring era and their most since a 2003 win at Nebraska. The Tigers then came back and posted 75 digs in a four-set win over American later that day as they saw five players finish in double figures in each of those matches.

Kreklow Digs; Posts 20-20 Effort Against Villanova
One of the key reasons for the Tigers' increased dig numbers last weekend was the play of setter Molly Kreklow who led the team with 50 digs over the three matches. In fact, she posted three double-doubles on the weekend and reset her career-high with 22 digs in the Tigers' five-set win over Villanova. Those 22 digs teamed with her 41 assists to give her the first 20-20 performance of her career and the first by a Tiger since Sept. 17, 2008, when Lei Wang did so against Oklahoma. Keep in mind, that all of this defense from Kreklow came from the setter position. She had at least 14 digs in each of the Tigers' three matches last weekend.

Brimmage Falls to Second in the Big 12 in Hitting
Tiger senior middle hitter Brittney Brimmage fell to second in the Big 12 in attack percentage this season at .388, just behind OU's Sallie McLaruin, who checks in at .412. Brimmage has been nothing short of sensational this season as she has hit better than .400 in 10 of 17 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.

Henning Continues to Produce
Sophomore outside hitter Lisa Henning continues to be the Tigers' top offensive weapon this season as she leads the team with 218 kills on .283 hitting while averaging 2.23 digs per set. She currently ranks sixth in the Big 12 with 3.63 kills per set and fifth in points per set at 4.10. But it has been her play in the back row that has helped her turn into a six-rotation player. In fact, she leads the team with four double-doubles and just missed another double-double at Iowa State on Wednesday as she finished with nine digs.

Pip Could Reach Milestone Saturday
Heading into Saturday's tilt with Texas A&M, senior libero Priscilla Armendariz sits just four 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 Fourth in Assists Per Set
Sophomore setter Molly Kreklow continues to quarterback the Tiger offense this season as she ranks fourth in the Big 12 in assists per set at 10.45. 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 over the last two weekends. All-in-all, Kreklow is putting together a phenomenal 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 Makes 50th Straight Start to Open Career
Molly Kreklow started her 50th straight match as Tiger on Wednesday at Iowa State as she has played in every match and every set for the Tigers since joining the team last season. Also on Wednesday, Kreklow became just the sixth player on program history to break the 2,000 career assist mark as she spread 27 in the losing effort. For her career, Kreklow has now dished 2,019 assists which ranks her sixth all-time at Mizzou. Keep in mind, she has only played a season-and-a-half with Mizzou.

Road Warriors
While Mizzou is one of the youngest teams in the league this season, the freshman class has sure gotten used to the grind of college volleyball over the last three weeks. In fact, Mizzou has played its last 13 matches away from home and has played 17 matches over the first four-plus weeks of the season. Mizzou will return home for the first time in nearly a month on Saturday as the 13-striaght matches away from home marks the longest road trip since Wayne and Susan Kreklow took over the program in 2000.

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 159 kills on .279 hitting, averaging 2.79 per set. Her 159 kills this season are tops among Big 12 freshmen and she is fourth among Big 12 freshmen in kills per set. Her .279 clip is also third among Big 12 freshmen this season, but the two hitters that rank ahead of her combined don't have as many kills or total attacks through the first four weeks of the season. Wilson reset her career-high with the Tigers' only 20-kill effort of the season against Villanova last Saturday.

Nifty Fifty Whitney
Tiger freshman Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) surpassed the 50-block mark in the Tigers' 13th match of the season against Denver. She is the fastest 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 67 blocks and her 1.12 blocks per set rank her 10th in the Big 12 Conference. Adding to her production, Little is hitting .366 with 72 kills this season and had three kills on five errorless attacks at Iowa State on Wednesday.

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.

Scouting Texas A&M
The Texas A&M volleyball team has a record of 11-2. The Aggie's have recently lost against University of Michigan and Xavier. Senior Kelsey Black leads the team in kills with 3.66 per set. Junior Megan Pendergast leads the team in digs with 4.08 per set.

Series Information
Since 2002, the Tigers and Aggies have had one of the best series among the entire Big 12 Conference. In fact, in the last 18 meetings, Texas A&M holds a narrow 9-8 lead while 16 of those 17 matches have all gone at least four sets; six of those, including the last two, have gone five as well. Mizzou defeated A&M, 3-2, in College Station last season despite being out-hit, out-killed, out-dug and out-blocked and then swept the Aggies at home in November. A&M leads the all-time series, 22-11.

The Last Meeting
The Mizzou volleyball team swept Texas A&M 3-0 (25-17, 25-23, 25-14) last year, making it its sixth straight win and eighth in its last nine matches. Senior outside hitter Julianna Klein led Mizzou with 13 kills on .379 hitting and 12 digs for her seventh double-double of the season while classmate Paola Ampudia posted 11 kills and 11 digs for her 10th double-double of the season. In all, the Tigers swept the season-series with Texas A&M last season.

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.

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.

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
Mizzou will play its second consecutive match inside the Hearnes Center next Wednesday (Sept. 28) against Kansas State at 6:30 p.m. The match will serve as the annual Pink Out meet of the Tigers as they will attempt to raise money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which looks to raise awareness of breast cancer. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball



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