Tigers Headed to Oklahoma

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Molly Kreklow has posted a double-double in four of her last five matches.</i>
MUTIGERS.COM
Molly Kreklow has posted a double-double in four of her last five matches.
MUTIGERS.COM

Oct. 3, 2011

Match Info: Mizzou (14-5, 1-2 Big 12) vs. No. 22 Oklahoma (16-3, 3-0 Big 12)
Date: Oct. 5
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Norman, Okla.
Arena: McCasland Fieldhouse
Audio: 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 Tigers will be on the road for two matches this week, beginning with a Wednesday tilt at Oklahoma beginning at 7 p.m. at McCasland Fieldhouse. The match will air in a tape-delayed broadcast on Cox Cable in Oklahoma. Mizzou has lost the last two meetings with Oklahoma after being swept in the season series last year. Mizzou lost in four at OU and in five at the Hearnes Center.

• The Tigers reset their season-highs in kills (66), assists (63) and blocks (15.0) in their loss to Kansas State last Wednesday. Staying on the topic of blocks, Mizzou had four players with at least five blocks in the match as Whitney Little led the way with seven (one solo, six assists).

• Senior libero Priscilla Armendariz cracked the Mizzou all-time top 10 in career digs with her 18 against K-State last Wednesday. She is now ninth all time with 1,039 and sits just 27 digs shy of eighth place all-time at Mizzou.

• Sophomore Lisa Henning continues to rank among the Big 12's top attackers this season after posting a career-best 24 kills and 28.0 points in the Tigers' loss to Kansas State. She also reset career-bests in attacks (69), blocks (six) and solo blocks (two). Henning ranks fourth in the Big 12 in points per set (4.32) and fifth in kills per set (3.81).

What's Inside? - A Quick Look at the Notes
• After two straight home matches, Mizzou will return to the road against No. 22 Oklahoma on Wednesday.
• Both teams are coming off of five-set matches. Mizzou lost to KSU in five and OU topped Texas Tech in five.
• Oklahoma is the second top-25 opponent of the season for Mizzou. Both matches have been on the road.
• Mizzou was swept in the season series with Oklahoma and has not topped the Sooners since Nov. 11, 2009.
• Mizzou ranks second in the Big 12 in hitting at .264 while OU is just behind the Tigers at .263.
• The Tigers reset season-highs in kills (66), assists (63) and blocks (15) in their loss to Kansas State.
• The Tigers' 14 wins in their first 19 matches marks their best start to a season since 2005.
• The 14-5 start marks the sixth time under the Kreklows that MU has won at least 14 of its first 19 matches.
• Head coach Wayne Kreklow sits just six wins shy of his 400th as a collegiate women's coach.
• Sophomore Lisa Henning tallied a career-best 24 kills in her last outing against Kansas State.
• Henning ranks fourth in the league in points per set (4.32) and fifth in kills per set (3.81).
• Henning also set career-bests in attack (69), blocks (six) and solo blocks (two) in the loss to K-State as well.
• Setter Molly Kreklow spread a season-best 56 assists in Mizzou's loss to Kansas State.
• Kreklow now ranks third in the Big 12 in assists per set at 10.67 and leads the league in total assists at 736.
• Tiger senior Brittney Brimmage is currently second in the Big 12 in hitting at .388.
Priscilla Armendariz cracked the Mizzou all-time top 10 in career digs with her 18 against Kansas State.
• Last time out against KSU, four different Tigers finished with at least five blocks in the match.

What's On Tap
Mizzou will be on the road twice this week, starting with a battle at No. 22 Oklahoma on Wednesday (Oct. 5) at McCasland Fieldhouse in Norman. The match will begin at 7 p.m. and air in a tape-delayed broadcast on Cox Cable in Oklahoma. It will mark the second of nine televised matches for the Tigers this season. Live stats will be provided at MUTigers.com while MUTigers.tv will stream live audio of the match. Oklahoma swept the season series with Mizzou a season ago.

Last Time Out
Mizzou played in its third five-set match of the season last Wednesday against Kansas State and came out on the losing end for the first time in a five-setter this season as the Wildcats won, 33-31, 20-25, 21-25, 25-19, 12-15. Mizzou reset its season-highs in kills (66), assists (63) and blocks (15.0) while four different players totaled at least five blocks in the match. In all, the loss marked the Tigers' first five-set loss this season and the second time in which they have won the first set and lost a match. Mizzou needed 33 points to win the first set, the most in a single set by the Tigers since Sept. 29, 2007, a match that coincidentally was against Oklahoma.

Double-Double Trouble for Kreklow
Sophomore setter Molly Kreklow posted her sixth double-double of the season with 56 assists and 15 digs against K-State last Wednesday. In fact, four of her six double-doubles this season have come over the last five matches as she now has back-to-back double-doubles for the second time this season.

Kreklow Six Shy of 400
Mizzou head coach Wayne Kreklow sat 20 wins shy of his 400th as a head volleyball coach entering the season, but he now sits just six 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 745 wins as a coaching duo, 236 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 14-5 start, the team's best since 2005 when the Tigers started 16-3. 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 14 wins are second among all Big 12 teams. Mizzou's Wednesday opponent, Oklahoma, leads the league with 16 wins so far this season as it checks in at 16-3 overall.
• Of the Tigers' 14 wins in 2011, nine have come against teams that won at least 20 matches last season.
• Mizzou is two wins better at this point this season than it was at this point last season. Through 19 matches last year, Mizzou was 12-7 while it checks in at 14-5 this season. Remember, Mizzou advanced all the way to the Sweet 16 in 2010.
• The Tigers have received votes in every AVCA Top 25 poll this season and check in at No. 37 this week.
• Mizzou ranks second in the Big 12 in hitting at .264, just ahead of Wednesday's opponent Oklahoma.
• Mizzou reset its season-highs in kills (66), assists (63) and blocks (15.0) in its loss to K-State last Wednesday.
• Dating back to last season, Mizzou has lost just nine times in its last 34 matches. Four of those losses came to top-25 teams while three ranked among the nation's top 15.
• Mizzou has played just six of its 19 matches this season at home.

Career Night for Henning as She Continues to Rank Among Big 12's Best
Tiger sophomore Lisa Henning - for the second-straight match - had a career night against Kansas State last Wednesday. The sophomore reset career-highs in kills (24), points (28.0), attacks (69), blocks (six) and solo blocks (two) while finishing just two digs shy of her fifth career double-double. That match came just four days after she had posted then career-bests in kills, attacks and solo blocks against Texas A&M.

Henning continues to rank among the Big 12's top attackers this season as she checks in at fourth overall in kills per set (4.32) and fifth in kills per set (3.81). Her 263 kills this season are second in the Big 12, trailing only K-State's Kaitlynn Pelger who has 294, although Henning out-deuled Pelger, 24-23, last Wednesday.

Henning Second in Kills, Points Per Set in Big 12 Play
As mentioned above, Henning is putting up great numbers this season but has seen an improvement during Big 12 play. In fact, she is ranked second in the Big 12 in both kills per set (4.83) and points per set (5.50), trailing only ISU's Carly Jenson. Henning's 58 total kills in league play are also a Big 12 high so far this season.

Henning's 24 Kills Are Top Big 12 Mark
Staying on the topic of Henning, the Tiger sophomore's 24 kills against Kansas State are the most by a Big 12 player during league play this year. Her 21 kills against Texas A&M the previous match also rank as the third-best total in the Big 12 this season and the top four-set mark. In fact the 21 kills in the four-set match with A&M are four more than the next-best mark in the Big 12 this season.

Pip Cracks All-Time Top 10
Senior libero Priscilla Armendariz etched her name in the Mizzou record books on Wednesday as she collected 18 digs to move into ninth place all-time in career digs with 1,039. She now sits just 27 digs shy of eighth place all-time and is one of just 11 players in program history to surpass 1,000 career digs. Armendariz is currently eighth in the Big 12 in digs per set at 3.65 this season.

Brimmage Reaches All-Time Top-10 Too
Armendariz wasn't the only Tiger to crack the top 10 against K-State on Wednesday as senior middle blocker Brittney Brimmage tallied her 219th career block assists as she now ranks 10th all-time. She is just three shy of eighth all-time as well. Brimmage also sits just three total blocks back of 10th all-time in that category as well with 254 total blocks in her career.

Kreklow Resets Season-High in Two Consecutive Matches
For the second consecutive match, sophomore setter Molly Kreklow reset her season-high in assists as she spread 56 against Kansas State last Wednesday. Prior to that, Kreklow had passed out 53 in the Tigers' win over Texas A&M. Over her last two matches, Kreklow is averaging 12.11 assists per set.

Kreklow Third in Assists Per Set
Kreklow moved back into third in the Big 12 in assists per set at 10.67 with her performance against Kansas State. 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 has slowed somewhat since then. 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.

Brimmage Second in the Big 12 in Hitting
Tiger senior middle hitter Brittney Brimmage ranks second in the Big 12 in attack percentage this season at .388, just behind OU's Sallie McLaruin, who checks in at .393. Brimmage has been nothing short of sensational this season as she has hit better than .400 in 10 of 19 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.

Mizzou Leads the League In Digs Allowed
Through 19 matches this season, the Tigers continue to lead the Big 12 in digs allowed at just 13.26 per set as their hitters have been very good. The next-best team is Texas Tech, which checks in at 13.81 per set. Oklahoma, Mizzou's opponent on Wednesday, is allowing opponents to dig 14.81 balls per set, setting up an intriguing back-row matchup on Wednesday.

Wilson Eighth in Hitting During League Play
Freshman Emily Wilson has emerged as one of the Tigers' top offensive weapons this season and she has been outstanding in league play so far. She has 38 kill on .313 hitting, the latter of which ranks her eighth in the conference through the first two weeks of Big 12 play. Of the top 10 hitters in the league during conference play, Wilson's 38 total kills are second among those players as well. In all, Wilson is second on the team with 197 kills on .283 hitting this season.

Blocking is Much Improved
A big key for the Tigers' improved play from a year ago has been its ability to defend at the net. In all, Mizzou is averaging 2.41 blocks per set this season and has 166.0 total blocks. Compared to last year's stats through 19 matches, Mizzou was averaging just 1.91 blocks per set with 128.0 total blocks. The Tigers had just 36 solo blocks and 184 block assists at this point last year while this year, they have 54 and 224, respectively. The Tigers have also eclipsed eight total blocks in 11 of their 19 matches in 2011. Mizzou had just 12 matches with at least eight blocks last season.

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 month. In fact, Mizzou played 13 straight matches away from home and played 18 matches over the first month of the season. The 13-striaght matches away from home marks the longest road trip since Wayne and Susan Kreklow took over the program in 2000. After playing two consecutive matches at home, Mizzou will return to the road for a pair of matches this week. In fact, following this week Mizzou will have played 15 of 21 matches this season away from home.

Big Crowds at Home
Despite only playing the six home matches this year, huge crowds have flocked to the Hearnes Center as a total of 16,324 fans have watched the Tigers this season, good for 2,721 fans per match. Mizzou has eclipsed the 3,000-fan mark three times this season, most recently in its Big 12 home-opener against Texas A&M. Mizzou has had at least 2,000 fans at every home match.

The big crowds are a key reason why Mizzou has been able to race out to a 5-1 start inside the Hearnes Center this season. In fact, since Wayne and Susan Kreklow have taken over at Mizzou, the Tigers are 116-41 at home as they have won nearly 75-percent of their home matches under the Kreklows.

Scouting Oklahoma
The Oklahoma volleyball team is currently 16-3 overall and 3-0 in the Big 12 this year. The Sooners are coming off a win at Texas Tech and an upset win over No. 8 Texas and are currently atop the Big 12 standings as the league's only undefeated team in conference play. Oklahoma relies on senior Brianne Barker who earned All-American honors last year.

Oklahoma leads the Big 12 with the fewest blocks allowed (1.62) and ranks second in service aces allowed (0.86). OU hit .248 against a Texas team that held opponents to an average .182 clip entering the match. OU has hit .350 or better in 20 sets this year, including 11 of 14 sets during the Oklahoma Invitational. Junior María Fernanda was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 26. and led the Sooners with 21 digs against Texas and was perfect on 27 service receptions. Middle hitter Sallie McLaurin also leads the Big 12 in hitting this season at .393 and right side hitter Suzy Boulavsky is the league's reigning Player of the Week.

Series Information
Oklahoma leads the series 39-31 but Missouri leads the series 15-13 when matches are played in Columbia. The Sooners have won in the last two meetings.

The Last Meeting
Mizzou lost to the Sooners, 3-2, in a tight match at the Hearnes Center in what was the Tigers' final regular season match of 2009. Senior Caitlyn Vann finished the match with a career-best 38 digs, which is a Mizzou rally scoring era match record and the most by a Tiger since 1985. Paola Ampudia led the way with 26 kills for the Tigers on .222 hitting while middle hitter Brittney Brimmage finished with 13 kills on .367 hitting. Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) posted a career-best 62 assists.

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 70 blocks and her 1.09 blocks per set rank her 10th in the Big 12 Conference. Adding to her production, Little is hitting .358 with 75 kills this season and had six kills on 14 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.

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. In fact, Armendariz and Henning actually played for rival high schools as well.

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 33 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
The Tigers will be on the road again this weekend as they head to Baylor for a Saturday tilt at the Ferrell Center. The match is slated for a 1 p.m. start and live stats and live radio will air live on MUTigers.com. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.

 

 

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