Sept. 23, 2008
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COLUMBIA, Mo.—The Missouri volleyball team (5-6, 0-2 Big 12) heads back out on the road on Wednesday for a Big 12 contest at Texas Tech (5-8, 0-2 Big 12) in pursuit of its first conference win of the 2008 season. Mizzou has won 11 straight over the Red Raiders and six straight in Lubbock, but are coming off a four-set loss to Baylor in its home opener Sunday and have now dropped four-of-its-last-five contests.
Big 12 Volleyball, Missouri at Texas Tech,
Lubbock, Texas, September 24, 7 p.m.
Missouri Audio: Yahoo! Sports (sub. required), commentators: Sean Pooley, Laura Pedersen
Live Stats: GameTracker
Live Webcast: (via Texas Tech, sub. required), Texas Tech All-Access
Missouri (5-6, 0-2 Big 12): Wayne Kreklow (Drake '80), 332-66 overall (10th year), 65-37 at Mizzou (4th year), 174-83 at with wife at Mizzou (9th year), 14-2 vs Texas Tech
Texas Tech (5-8, 0-2 Big 12): Nancy Todd (Arizona State, 1995), 56-108 overall (6th year), 56-108 at Texas Tech (6th year), 0-10 vs Missouri
Vann Earns Second Big 12 Honor …
The Big 12 office announced Monday that Missouri sophomore Caitlyn Vann (Muncie, Ind.) was named as the league’s volleyball Defensive Player of the Week for the second time in three weeks. Vann posted a Big 12-leading 7.25 digs per set last week in matches against Oklahoma and Baylor. She combined for 58 digs -- 33 at Oklahoma and 25 versus Baylor -- in the Tigers’ two losses Vann was also perfect in 23 service reception attempts on the week, all in the match against the Bears.
As Maneater reporter Ross Taylor put it, “Sophomore libero Caitlyn Vann was nothing short of fantastic, or ‘Vann-tastic,’ a term coined by several Missouri fans to yell following her serves. Vann, the Big 12 leader in digs per set, finished with 25 digs.
“With Missouri trailing 20-19 in the third set, Vann changed the match's momentum with a ridiculously athletic play. Diving to her right, Vann dug a well-struck ball with one arm. The ball carried over the net and landed in between six frozen Baylor defenders, helping Missouri salvage the third set.”
Overall, Vann paces the league with 5.21 digs per set. In addition, Vann is eighth in the NCAA with 5.21 digs per set. Northern Arizona’s Brittany Stowers leads the country with 6.23 digs per set.
Vann becomes only the third Tiger to earn conference player of the week honors twice in the same season. The last was Jessica Vander Kooi who earned the award twice in September 2006.
Scouting Texas Tech …
The Texas Tech Red Raiders has started the season with a 5-8 record and is 0-2 against conference opponents losing to both Baylor and Oklahoma. They snapped out of their seven-match losing streak last Friday the 19th with a win against Louisiana-Lafayette. Like Mizzou, the Red Raiders lost in four sets to Baylor.
A bright spot for the Red Raiders is senior middle blocker Brandi Hood. Overall, Hood has 123 kills and 30 of those kills have been in their two Big 12 matches. Hood also has 45 total blocks on the year. Caroline Witte, a junior setter, has 19 aces on the season, two of those coming in conference play. In conference, junior libero Jenn Harrell has lead the team with 3.89 digs per set.
-- Dana Burton
The First to 25 … Wins!
Okay, new rules. For the fourth time in a decade collegiate volleyball has made a major change to the game. In 2001, scoring went from side-out to rally. In 2003, we added the libero. In 2005, the libero could serve. AND, in 2008: we play to 25. Why keep a record book anymore? By the way, that’s a joke.
Sets (yes, not games – that’s an NCAA-mandated change in terminology) will be played to 25 points, with the fifth set still concluding at 15 points (you still have to win by two). The NCAA is progressively becoming more consistent with the FIVB (international federation) rules, and the change in scoring is a step in that direction. What does this mean bottom line? Shorter matches and a more concentrated effort to stop scoring runs before they the set becomes quickly out of hand.
In the Preseason …
Mizzou was picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 by the league coaches. Sophomore MB Weiwen Wang (Nanjing, China) was the lone Tiger selected to the Preseason All-Big 12 team.
In her role, Wang led the Tiger team last year in service aces (34), and was second on the team in kills per set (2.96), blocks per set (0.89), hitting percentage (.256), and points per set (3.78). In addition, “Wendy” was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week on October 8 after posting school records with 19 errorless kills and 13 total blocks in the October 3 match at Colorado. She repeated the 19 errorless kills when the Buffaloes came to Columbia on November 24.
Vann Named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week … September 8
The Big 12 office announced Monday that Missouri sophomore Caitlyn Vann (Muncie, Ind.) was named as the league’s volleyball Defensive Player of the Week. Vann, collecting her first league honor, helped the Tigers (4-2) to a 2-1 record in the Spring Hill Suites at Arundel Mills Invitational in College Park, Md., last weekend, collecting 58 digs on the weekend (5.27 dps) including a Big 12 and career-high 34 in a five-set win over St. John’s.
Mizzou swept host Maryland on Friday and won a 59-tie, 27-lead-change thriller over St. John’s, a 2007 NCAA regional semifinalist, on Saturday. Kentucky, a 2007 NCAA-Tournament team, handed the Tigers its only loss in the tourney on Saturday morning.
Vann, the team’s libero, also had double-digit dig totals in the sweep of Maryland (13) and against Kentucky (11).
Vann leads the Big 12 by a wide margin with 5.21 digs per set so far this season. Texas’ Heather Kisner is next on the roll with 4.50 dps. Vann is also in the nation’s top 20 in the category.
Sophomore Julianna Klein was named to the All-Tournament team at Maryland, leading Mizzou with 4.00 kills per set.
Crazy Eights and Zero Seniors …
What have we learned so far in 2008? If the Beijing Olympics taught us anything, it’s that the number eight is a lucky number for the Chinese and in its culture, all the more evident with its beginning of the Olympic Opening Ceremony on 8-8-08 at 8:08:08 p.m.
The Missouri volleyball team in the 2008 season also wishes to employ the luck of the number EIGHT. The Tigers have been to EIGHT-consecutive NCAA Tournaments – every one of them in the decade, with Nebraska being the only other team in the Big 12 to match. For as young as the Tigers seemed last season, they return EIGHT to the team this season, five of which started in more than 20 matches last year. And, get used to the faces – there are zero seniors in 2008, meaning it will be a carbon-copy roster in 2009.
“I look at us on paper and what we have returning, and that makes me feel positive about what we are able to do this year,” said Head Coach Wayne Kreklow. “We’ve got a core group – we’ve got a returning setter, we’ve got a lot of returners from last year’s team back.”
Welcome Back, Klein …
Not included in the list of “technical starters” from last season is junior OH Julianna Klein (Keota, Iowa). Klein started last season on a roll, recording kill-dig double-doubles in five of her seven matches played, averaging a then-team high 4.44 kills and 2.85 digs per set, and tabulating a career-high 26 kills in the season opener at Mississippi. But, in the September 7 match versus Houston, Klein went down in the third set, tearing the ACL in her left knee – her season would be over. However, Klein has bounced back, gone through rehab, and is ready to pick up where she left off.
“Jules has had a great spring in coming back from her injury,” said Kreklow. “She’s worked really hard in rehab and has consistently been ahead of all of her rehab goals, so she’s really put in the time and effort in the training room to come back. I thought by the end of the spring she was close to where she was in the fall, so she’s made a lot of progress off the court. She’s obviously very anxious to get back out on the floor again and she’s done a good job working on the little things, like her passing game. She’s always been a big power hitter, and she’s worked hard on the things that are going to be necessary for her to get where she wants to go if she wants to be all-conference, be an All-American player, and help us get back to the tournament again.”
Setting the Table Again …
Now in her fourth year in the Mizzou system, S Lei Wang (Shanghai, China) has a lot to look forward to in her redshirt-junior campaign. Having already guided the Mizzou ship in the last two years as setter, Wang has seemingly found her stride improve with each match experience. Oddly enough, her experience last year had to be tweaked a notch because of the injury to Klein. On occasion, Kreklow would utilize the 6-2 system, making Wang’s play in the front row strictly at the net as a right-side hitter. Although her overall assist-per-set average was down because of the variety of positions that she had to play, Wang still recorded two triple-doubles including a 10 kill, 49 assist, and 15 dig effort versus No. 25 Oklahoma on September 29.
“I thought she had a great second half of last season,” said Kreklow. “She really came on during the month of November and into tournament time and did a real excellent job. What we’ve worked on during the spring has been her individual defense and blocking. I think she’s got a good grasp of what is required of her as a setter and I look for that to improve.”