Volleyball Returns Home to Face Texas A&M, Georgia

MUTIGERS.COM
<i>Lisa Henning could join the 1,000-kill club this weekend as she has 995 in her career.</i>

MUTIGERS.COM
Lisa Henning could join the 1,000-kill club this weekend as she has 995 in her career.
MUTIGERS.COM

Sept. 26, 2012

$2 Admission to Texas A&M!

Mizzou Volleyball (11-3, 3-1 SEC) vs. Texas A&M (10-2, 2-1 SEC), Georgia (8-5, 2-2 SEC)
Date: Sept. 28, 30
Time: 6:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m.
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Live Stream: MizzouNetwork.com
Twitter Updates: @MU_Volleyball
Game Notes: Notes - Texas A&M, UGA Get Acrobat Reader

What's Inside? - A Quick Look at the Notes
• Heading into the weekend, Mizzou is one of just three teams with a league-leading three SEC wins.
• The Tigers are coming off of their first program win over LSU with a 3-1 win in Baton Rouge Sunday.
• The Tigers are 23-12 against Texas A&M all-time and 1-1 all-time in matches against Georgia.
• Mizzou is 3-1 in league play for the first time since 2006 when it opened 7-1 in Big 12 play.
• The Tigers are second in the SEC in hitting (15th nationally at .288) and lead the SEC in blocks (2.62 per set).
• Mizzou is also averaging a league-best 3.17 blocks per set in SEC matches and 2.89 over the last six matches.
• The Tigers have posted at least 10 blocks in five of 14 matches and at least nine in seven matches.
Whitney Little is the reigning SEC Player of the Week after averaging 5.57 pps on .411 hitting with 2.43 bps.
• Little is averaging 2.90 kills per set on .417 hitting with 1.95 blocks per set and 4.31 points per set.
• Little has three 10-block matches in her last six contests. The school record for career 10-block matches is four.
• Little has a pair of block-kill double-doubles in 2012. Before that, the last block-kill double-double was in `07.
• Little is 12th nationally in hitting (.432), 23rd nationally in bps (1.39) and third in solo blocks (16).
Lisa Henning is five kills shy of becoming just the 11th player in program history to break 1,000 career kills.
• Henning would be the fastest Tiger to ever reach 1,000 career kills and is third in the SEC in kills per set (4.29).
• Henning is No. 5 on the active kill leaders list in the SEC w/ 995. She is the top junior on the list.
• Setter Molly Kreklow is tied for league lead in assists per set (11.27) and is second in overall assists (169).
• In her three years as a Tiger setter, Kreklow has guided the team to a .241 attack clip and 13.48 kills per set.
• The team's .241 clip through her two-plus seasons is the second-best career mark for four-year Tiger setters.
• To put it into perspective, Kreklow has assisted on 82.5-percent of Mizzou's kills since 2010.
• Mizzou is holding teams to just .176 hitting this year. Mizzou has not held a team to below .200 in a season since 2005.
Sarah Meister had a career-best 27 digs at LSU last Sunday.
• Meister is averaging 4.93 digs per set since switching to libero, a mark that ranks her fifth in the SEC.
• Before moving to libero, Meister was averaging just 1.85 digs per set and had just a .941 serve receive mark.

Tigers Return Home Among SEC Leaders
At 11-3 overall and 3-1 in SEC play, the Mizzou volleyball program will return to the Hearnes Center for a big weekend against Texas A&M (10-2, 2-1 SEC) and Georgia (8-5, 2-2 SEC). Of course, Friday night's match with Texas A&M will have a familiar feel as the two were members of the Big 12 before each joining the SEC for their inaugural season in 2012-13. The match will be contested Friday at 6:30 p.m. Sunday's match with Georgia will being at 1:30 p.m. Georgia checks in at 2-2 in SEC play, ranking just behind the Tigers in the SEC East.

Tigers Off to Fast Start
At 3-1 in SEC play, Mizzou is off to its best start in league play since 2006 when it opened Big 12 play 7-1 overall. That year, Mizzou advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and nearly knocked off No. 2 Stanford before losing 3-2 to the Cardinal. Mizzou is one of just three SEC teams with three league wins.

A Familiar Foe
This year has been a season of firsts for Mizzou volleyball, but they will get a dose of familiarity on Friday when Texas A&M pays visit to the Hearnes Center. As members of the Big 12, the two schools built quite a rivalry. In fact, in the last 19 meetings, A&M 10-9 leads while 17 of those 19 matches have all gone at least four sets; six of those have gone five as well.

Last Time Out
The Tigers faced the daunting task of playing at two of the SEC's premier programs last weekend in their first-ever SEC road weekend as they drew 13th-ranked Florida and preseason SEC West favorite LSU. The Tigers had a hard-fought loss at No. 13 Florida on Friday as they hung with the Gators in the first two sets behind a great defensive effort at the net. In fact, Mizzou posted 13.5 total blocks in the match, led by sophomore Whitney Little who posted her second block-kill double-double in five matches and posted at least 10 blocks for the third time in five matches as she had 10 kills on .364 hitting and 10 blocks. She also had five solo blocks in the losing effort, marking the third-best mark in program history, which is also the rally-scoring record at Mizzou. Little and the Tigers then rebounded at SEC West favorite LSU on Sunday, defeating the Tigers, 3-1, for their second road win of the season. Little again was tremendous resetting career-bests in kills (15), attacks (34) and points (21.5), doing so on .411 hitting with seven total blocks (four solo, three assists). Sophomore libero Sarah Meister was also very good in that match, pulling in a career-best 27 digs in the four-set win. The win over LSU was the first in program history.

Little Named SEC Player of the Week
The SEC is beginning to take notice of the performance of Mizzou's Whitney Little as she was named SEC Player of the Week on Monday (Sept. 24) after a monster performance in a pair of SEC road matches last weekend. Little led the Tigers with 5.57 points per set in road matches at No. 13 Florida and SEC West favorite LSU. Little was outstanding offensively and defensively last weekend. She averaged 3.57 kills per set on .411 hitting while finishing the weekend with a 2.43 blocks per set average and posted a team-best 39 points (5.57 per set).

Little Making History
Aside from being named SEC Player of the Week on Monday, Whitney Little has rewritten the Mizzou record books over the last six matches with her blocking and offensive efficiency. Below are a few notables on Little's performance as of late.

    • Little is third nationally in solo blocks with 16 on the season
    • Little is 12th nationally in hitting (.432) and 23rd in blocks per set (1.39)
    • She has three 10-block matches in her last six. The school record for 10-block matches in career is four
    • Little has two block-kills doubles in her last six matches; the last block-kill double-double for MU was back in `07
    • Little matched the rally scoring school record with five solo blocks at Florida last Friday
    • Little sits atop the all-time Mizzou career records in blocks per set (1.17) and is second in hitting (.329)
    • Little is fifth in SEC matches in points per set despite ranking just 19th in kills per set
    • Little is on pace to shatter her own single season blocking record (138) as she is on pace for more than 170 blocks
Little Plays Big Over the Last Six
All season, the Tigers have needed another attacker to step up and take pressure off of All-American Lisa Henning, who is currently third in the SEC in kills per set. But the Tigers have seemed to find that No. 2 option as of late as Whitney Little has emerged as a key option at the middle hitter position. In fact, over her last six matches, Little has 61 kills on .417 hitting. She had a career-best match on Sunday at LSU in which she posted a career-best 15 kills on .441 hitting on 34 attacks, accounting for 21.5 total points in the match, also career-bests.

Tigers Lead SEC in Blocking During League Play
It has been no secret that the 2012 Tigers have been blocking better than any Tiger team in recent memory and the last few matches are evidence of that. In fact, Mizzou is leading the SEC with 3.17 blocks per set in league matches (thanks in large part to going over 10.0 blocks in three of four league matches) while Mizzou is averaging 2.89 blocks per set over the last six matches. Whitney Little is averaging 1.95 blocks over the last six and is leading the SEC during league play (1.93 bps).

In all this season, Mizzou is averaging an SEC-best 2.62 blocks per set, well ahead of their 2.30 blocks per set from a season ago. In fact, Mizzou has not averaged better than 2.50 blocks per set since 2007 (Mizzou averaged 2.74 that season) and that is when sets were still played to 30 points rather than the 25-point format that is used now. That 2.62 mark would be the seventh-best mark in program history and the best in the 25-point set era.

More on the Block
So far this season, Mizzou's block has been very good. In fact, the Tigers have posted at least four blocks in every match this season and have at least six blocks in 12 of 14 matches. The Tigers posted a season-best 18 blocks in the comeback win over Tennessee, marking the first time since 2009 that the Tigers have posted that many blocks. Mizzou has been over 10 blocks in five of 14 matches and at least nine in seven of 14 matches this season.

Henning Could Break 1,000 Career Kills
Heading into the weekend, junior All-American Lisa Henning has a chance to make history as she sits just five kills shy of being the 11th Tiger to join the 1,000-kill club with 995 in her career. What is even more impressive is that Henning could become the quickest Tiger to ever break 1,000 career kills. The previous best was former All-American Jessica Vander Kooi who took until the first match of the NCAA Tournament he junior season to break 1,000 career kills. Henning is on the cusp of breaking 1,000 career kills in just 82 matches while it took Vander Kooi 86 matches to break the 1,000-kill plateau.

Tigers Second in SEC, 15th Nationally in Hitting
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou ranks among the national elite in team hitting percentage at .288, ranking it second in the SEC and 15th nationally. Florida, which is atop the SEC East division, is the only SEC team that is hitting better than Mizzou. If the season ended today, the .288 clip would be the third-best attack clip in program history, trailing only the 2005 team (.299) and the 2000 team (.289).

Kreklow Tied for SEC Lead in Assists Per Set
Junior setter Molly Kreklow this season is continuing to show why she is regarded as one of the nation's top setters as she is tied for the SEC lead with 11.27 assists per set during league play. She is tied with UT's Mary Pollmiller and is ranked second in the league with 169 total assists in four SEC matches. She is coming off of a great match at LSU in which she spread 47 assists in just four sets.

Kreklow Improves Hitting
Heading into the season, junior setter Molly Kreklow was more known for her ability to run an offense, but it has been her offensive production that has caught the eye of many following the first month of play. In addition to guiding the team to a .288 attack percentage, Kreklow also proved to be a formidable attacker, posting 49 kills on just 93 attacks with just 10 errors, good for a .419 clip. While her main role will be to set up the Tiger offense, her improved attacking is reason for opponents to worry. She entered the season as just a .179 career attacker, so her .419 clip is a vast improvement. Also, last year, she tallied just 86 kills in 34 matches (2.5 per match) while she has 49 through 14 matches (3.5 per match) this season.

A Look at Kreklow Historically
Through her two-plus seasons at Mizzou, Molly Kreklow has guided the team to a .241 attack percentage and 13.48 kills per set. If you average out the rest of the year at the current pace the Tigers are attacking at right now, Kreklow will have guided Mizzou to a .252 attack percentage in her three seasons. That is the second-best mark for any three-year Tiger setter in program history, trailing only Lindsey Hunter, who guided Mizzou to a .263 attack clip in her first three seasons at Mizzou (2002-04). She has assisted on nearly 83-percent of the Tigers' kills in her two-plus seasons.

Tigers Limiting Opponent Hitting This Season
So far this season, a trend is developing that is different from the Tiger teams over the last several seasons. Mizzou is holding its opponents to just a .176 attack percentage, good for the fourth-best clip in the SEC this season. In fact, Mizzou has limited its opponents to under .200 hitting in 10 of 14 matches, winning nine of those, and has held teams to under .200 hitting in eight of the last 10 matches. The Tigers have not held their opponents under .200 hitting in a season since 2005. Even in its Sweet 16 season two years ago, Mizzou allowed teams to hit .233, so the improved defensive play is reason for excitement. Mizzou's only loss this season when holding teams to less than .200 hitting came at Morehead State in a five sets.

A Libero Change
Before the match with No. 17 Tennessee, Mizzou head coach Wayne Kreklow made a lineup change as he moved sophomore Sarah Meister to the starting libero position, replacing Jade Hayes. The move came after Hayes had pulled in double-digit digs in nine of the Tigers' first 10 matches. But Meister has made an immediate impact since throwing on the opposite-colored jersey, averaging 4.93 digs per set. Before the change, Meister was averaging just 1.85 digs per set and a .941 serve receive mark. In fact, in her first match as libero, Meister corralled a then career-best 23 digs against Tennessee and converted all 28 of her service receptions in the match. She followed that with a three-set career-best total 14 digs against Ole Miss and had a sensational weekend at Florida and LSU. She pulled in 10 digs at No. 13 Florida and followed that with a career-best outing, pulling in 27 digs at LSU, averaging 5.29 digs per set. Her 4.93 digs per set during SEC play ranks her No. 5 in the SEC this season after not even being ranked in the league's top 20 in digs per set in non-conference matches.

Scouting Texas A&M
The Aggies will be a familiar foe for the Tigers on Friday as the two teams of course played twice a year as members of the Big 12 over the last several years. But Friday's match is the beginning of a new era as they will play for the first time as members of the SEC. Led by head coach Laurie Corbelli, now in her 20th season, the Aggies are out to a 10-2 record and a 2-1 start in SEC play. The Aggies' losses this season came at the hands of No. 5 USC and Kentucky last weekend at home. Middle Alisia Kastmo leads the Aggies with 136 kills on .266 hitting while Tori Mellinger is second on the team with 118 kills on .230 hitting. Lindsey Miller is the team's top blocker, averaging 1.19 blocks per set as she will be pitted against Mizzou's Whitney Little in a matchup of two of the SEC's top blockers. A strength of the team appears to be back-row defense as the Aggies average an SEC-best 17.27 digs per set as six players average more than 2.00 digs per set. Libero Megan Pendergast leads the way with a 3.75 digs per set average.

Series Information
As members of the Big 12, the two schools built quite a rivalry. In fact, in the last 19 meetings, A&M 10-9 leads while 17 of those 19 matches have all gone at least four sets; six of those have gone five as well. A&M leads the all-time series, 23-12.

Scouting Georgia
Georgia is out to an 8-5 record so far this season and is limiting opponents to just .188 hitting. Tirah Le'au leads the team with 137 kills on .249 hitting. The Bulldogs run a 6-2 with two setters but Kaylee Kehoe leads the team with a 6.17 assists per set average. They average 14.61 digs per set as a team and 1.30 blocks per set. The team is paced in digs by Allison Summers at 4.39 per set while Elena Perri leads the team with 1.13 blocks per set.

Series Information
Mizzou and Georgia have not met since 1986, a 3-0 sweep by the Bulldogs in Norman, Okla. Prior to that the teams met again in 1984 with the Tigers claiming a 3-0 sweep, this time in Champaign, Ill. That gives the teams an even 1-1 record in the all-time series.

Historic First Two Seasons for Kreklow
Junior setter Molly Kreklow has accomplished a lot in her short career at Mizzou and the numbers show it. In fact, Kreklow has quarterbacked the Tigers to a 43-24 record (.657) over the past two seasons and a pair of NCAA Tournament wins (2-2 overall record, including a Sweet 16 appearance). The 43 wins for the Tigers over the last two seasons are the most for a Tiger setter since All-American and current assistant coach Lindsey Hunter won 45 matches from 2002-03. Kreklow already has more NCAA Tournament wins than Hunter did through her first two seasons. Also, Kreklow set the Tigers to a .232 attack percentage in her first two seasons, the Tigers' best two-year attack percentage since 2004-05, when Hunter led the team to a .292 clip over those two seasons. Kreklow now has 54 wins in her two-plus seasons.

Ms. 3,000
The Tigers have certainly had their fair share of great setters under the direction of Wayne and Susan Kreklow, but Molly Kreklow may be the best. At Morehead State, Kreklow passed the 3,000-assist mark in her career, making her just the fifth Tiger to do so. It is worth noting that if Kreklow played in 30-point sets like her predecessors, she would be on pace to break Hunter's school record for career assists (6,097) by 471. She has assisted on nearly 83-percent of the Tigers' kills since joining the team for the 2010 season.

Henning Makes History Too
Junior outside hitter Lisa Henning has been a huge asset for the Tigers in her first two seasons in black and gold as well. In fact, since the rally scoring era began (2001), no Tiger has compiled more kills in her first two seasons (four-year players) than Henning as she has posted 789 heading into the season. The next-best Tiger on the list is Jessica Vander Kooi, who tallied 678 in 2003 and 2004. Henning currently leads the team with 206 kills this season, pushing her total to 995 over her two-plus seasons. Vander Kooi holds the record for kills in a Tigers' first three seasons with 1,040. Henning needs just 45 kills to pass that mark, so that is a stat to keep an eye on this season.

    Top First Two-Year Kill Totals (four-year players)
    • Henning - 789, 995 including her third season
    •Vander Kooi - 678 in first two seasons, 1,040 in first three
    Na Yang - 602 in first two seasons, 953 in first three
Henning Top Junior in SEC
Looking deeper into Henning's numbers so far, her 995 career kills are fifth among active SEC players and tops among SEC juniors, just ahead of Tennessee's Kelsy Robinson (983). The four players ranked ahead of Henning on the list are all senior as Arkansas' Jasmine Norton leads all active SEC players in kills with 1,542. Remember, Henning was the first ever Tiger to leads the Big 12 in kills per set and points per set a season ago and broke the school record with 523 kills.

More on the Tiger Junior Class
With 43 wins through their first two seasons, the Mizzou junior class (Kreklow, Henning) has the chance to become the winningest class in program history with almost two full seasons 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 junior class has a chance to become the winningest four-year class during the modern scheduling era in program history. With a win last week, the class now has 54 wins in two-plus seasons. Below is a look at the winningest four-year stretches in program history (modern scheduling era).

    Winningest Four-Year Stretches
    • 2002-05 - 90 wins
    • 2002-04 - 89 wins
    • 1982-85 - 84 wins
    • Mizzou Junior Class - 54 wins
Tigers Picked Fourth in SEC East
The Tigers, in the their first SEC Preseason Poll, were picked to finish fourth in the Eastern Division by the league's coaches. The loaded SEC East features league favorite Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida, all of which rank ahead of Mizzou. The Gators narrowly edged the Tigers in the poll for third place. The Tigers received 37 votes in the poll while Tennessee (12), UK (30) and Florida (35) edged the Tigers.

Kreklow, Henning Land on All-SEC Preseason Team
The Mizzou volleyball program may be new to the Southeastern Conference, but it has already earned the respect of its peers as the Tigers placed two student-athletes on the Preseason All-SEC Team, which was released on Aug. 7. Juniors Lisa Henning and Molly Kreklow were named to the nine-person All-SEC Preseason Team. Mizzou joined Kentucky and league-favorite Tennessee as the only teams to place two players on the All-SEC Preseason Team. Henning is fifth among active SEC players with 789 kills in her career.

Kreklows Participate in USA Volleyball A-2 Program Over the Summer
Junior Molly Kreklow and Mizzou head coach Wayne Kreklow spent 10 days during the summer in Columbus, Ohio, for the USA Volleyball A-2 Program - Molly as a player and Wayne as a coach, albeit of different teams. Wayne coached the Blue Team to a perfect 3-0 record in pool play, but his team lost a semifinal matchup, dropping it to the third-place match, which it won, 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-11) over Molly's Red Team.

Little, O'Brien Play Together in Italy, Croatia
Sophomores Whitney Little and Katie O'Brien played with the USA Development/Bring-It Promotions tour in Italy and Croatia this summer. The Tiger duo played with some of the nation's most talented underclassmen over the week-long tour and their team played in the European Global Challenge. It marks the third straight season that Mizzou has had a student-athlete play in the program. Former Tiger Julianna Klein played in Brazil prior to the 2010 season while current Tiger junior Lisa Henning played in China prior to the 2011 season.

Tigers Land Heralded Recruit Taylor Simpson
The Tigers landed a huge commit in the offseason as sophomore Taylor Simpson transferred to Mizzou. Most recently, Simpson played at the University of Nebraska but had transferred to Florida State this summer before committing to Mizzou. She is eligible to play immediately in 2012 and will give the Tigers another solid hitter at the net. She was rated the No. 9 recruit nationally by PrepVolleyball.com before committing to Nebraska in 2010. She is the highest-ranked recruit in program history.

Connection for Hayes and Simpson
Although Taylor Simpson will have to adapt to playing with a new team this season, the transition will be made a little bit easier thanks to a former teammate that is on the Tiger roster. Defensive specialist Jade Hayes played with Simpson on the USAVB Youth Olympic Team in 2010. The duo led Team USA to a Silver Medal in Singapore.

An Experienced Youthful Group
It is a well known fact that Mizzou was the youngest team (% of underclassmen) to qualify for the NCAA Tournament last season, but heading into 2012, the Tigers boast a roster that is comprised of 10 underclassmen and two juniors, making them the youngest team in the SEC. In fact, Mizzou's roster is 83-percent underclassmen and it is the only SEC roster that does not have a senior. Mississippi State is the next-youngest team in the league as it is comprised of 76.9-percent underclassmen. What is impressive about the Tigers' youth is that they are a very experienced group as well as seven of the 10 underclassmen are sophomores and helped guide Mizzou to the NCAA Tournament as freshmen last year.

Big Crowds at Home
So far this season, the Hearnes Center has proved to once again be one of the toughest places to play in the country as Mizzou is 5-1 inside the confines of their home arena. In fact, Mizzou is 1-1 against top-25 teams as well with its only loss coming to No. 23 Michigan. So far, Mizzou is averaging 2,264 fans per match this season.

Tigers On Television
The Mizzou volleyball program will be televised nationally four times, including a program-high three times on ESPNU this season. In all, the Tigers have five scheduled televised matches that will be seen throughout the state of Missouri this season. Below are the television dates for the Tigers.

    • Sept. 12 vs. Tennessee - ESPNU
    • Oct. 14 vs. Mississippi State - ESPNU
    • Oct. 19 at Ole Miss - SportSouth
    • Oct. 24 - at Georgia - ESPNU
    • Nov. 2 - vs. South Carolina - Mizzou Sports Network

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 second year as the team's play-by-play announcer. Brittney Brimmage will provide analysis. Visit MUTigers.tv for broadcasts.

Up Next
The Tigers will hit the road again for a weekend road trip to No. 21 Tennessee on Friday (Oct. 5) and then again on Sunday at Alabama for a 1:30 p.m. first serve. Of course, Friday's match with UT is a rematch of the Tigers' epic five-set comeback in the SEC opener.

 

 

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