Mizzou Hosts Mississippi State on ESPNU Sunday

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Whitney Little leads the SEC in blocking</i>
MUTIGERS.COM
Whitney Little leads the SEC in blocking
MUTIGERS.COM

Oct. 11, 2012

Mizzou Volleyball (13-5, 5-3 SEC) vs. Mississippi State (4-12, 0-7 SEC
Date: Oct. 14
Time: Noon
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Live Stream: MizzouNetwork.com
Twitter Updates: @MU_Volleyball

What's Inside? - A Quick Look at the Notes
• Mizzou plays just one match at home in October and it will be this Sunday against Mississippi State.
• The match versus MSU will air live on ESPNU, marking the Tigers' second nationally televised match in 2012.
• Mizzou and Mississippi State have met just once and that was a 3-0 sweep by the Tigers in 2004.
• The Tigers moved up one spot in the RPI to No. 48 this week after going 1-1 at Tennessee and Alabama.
• Mizzou is also averaging a league-best 3.26 blocks per set in SEC matches and 3.08 over the last 10 matches.
• The Tigers have posted at least 10 blocks in nine of 18 matches and at least nine in 11 matches.
Whitney Little is seventh nationally in bps (1.58), 4th in BS (20) and 22nd in hitting (.394).
• Little leads the SEC in blocks per set (1.58) in all matches and in SEC matches (2.03).
• Little has five 10-block matches in her last 10. The five 10-block matches is a Mizzou career and season record.
• Little has a pair of block-kill double-doubles in 2012. Before that, the last block-kill double-double was in `07.
• Little is the only player in the nation with at least 1.35 bps, 20 solo blocks, 75 block assists and a .380 attack %.
Lisa Henning is just two kills shy of cracking the Mizzou all-time top 10 on the career kills list.
• She is the second-fastest Tiger to ever reach 1,000 kills, trailing on Shen Danru, as she has 1,075.
• Henning is No. 4 on the active kill leaders list in the SEC w/ 1,075. She is the top junior on the list.
• Henning is also atop the SEC with her five double-doubles during league play.
• Henning also leads the SEC in kills per set and points per set in league matches this season.
• Setter Molly Kreklow is second in the SEC with 10 double-doubles this season.
• In her three years as a Tiger setter, Kreklow has guided the team to a .241 attack clip and 13.42 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 .180 hitting this year. Mizzou has not held a team to below .200 in a season since 2005.
Sarah Meister has gone over 20 digs in five of eight matches since switching to libero.
• Meister is averaging 4.87 digs per set since switching to libero, a mark that ranks her second 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 Head Home for Nationally Televised Match
As one of the SEC's four teams with at least five league wins this season, the Mizzou volleyball program will look to keep pace with the rest of the SEC as Mississippi State will pay a visit to the Hearnes Center for a noon match, which will air live on ESPNU on Sunday (Oct. 14). The match at the Hearnes Center on Sunday is the Tigers' only home match during the month of October as they play six of seven on the road. The meeting between the two teams will be the first since 2004, which was a sweep by the Tigers in Columbia. Current assistant coach Lindsey Hunter was the setter for the Tigers in that match and guided the team to a .430 attack percentage and spread 37 assists in the sweep.

Block This Way
Looking at the season stats for the Tigers, the one thing that stands out is the Tigers' blocking numbers. In fact, Mizzou leads the SEC with its 2.80 blocks per set average while its 179.5 total blocks leads the SEC as well. The 2.80 blocks per set clip ranks the Tigers 24th nationally. The numbers are even better in SEC play as the Tigers are averaging 3.26 blocks per set with a league-leading 101 total blocks. The next-best total by an SEC team in league matches is 74 by Florida, but the Gators are nearly half a block per set behind the Tigers in the per set standings. Sophomore Whitney Little leads the way for the Tigers with 1.58 blocks per set this season.

Dig For A Cure
Of course, the match with the Bulldogs at the Hearnes Center will also serve as Mizzou's annual `Dig for a Cure' match in which the Tigers will look to raise awareness of breast cancer. The `Dig Pink' T-shirts are currently for sale through the Mizzou volleyball office. The shirts are just $16 and proceeds with go towards breast cancer research. There is a limited quantity of shirts (size S-XL) and they will be on sale now through the match on Sunday. Checks are preferred but cash will be accepted.

Last Time Out
Mizzou earned a split for the third straight SEC weekend in matches at Tennessee and Alabama last weekend. The Tigers nearly pulled off a five-set win at Tennessee, but fell just short in Knoxville behind a 25-kill performance from All-American Lisa Henning. Mizzou then rode the arms of Henning and middle hitter Whitney Little to a four-set win at Alabama. Henning was once again very impressive with 23 kills on .305 hitting with 16 digs and seven blocks. Little tallied 14 kills on .448 hitting with eight blocks and five digs.

Big Weekend for Henning
Junior All-American Lisa Henning had quite a performance in matches at Tennessee and Alabama last weekend. In fact, Henning averaged 5.33 kills per set and 6.28 points per set while posting 48 kills on .256 hitting in the Tigers' two matches last weekend. Not only that, but the Tiger junior averaged 3.67 digs per set (33 total) and 1.22 blocks per set with three service aces as she had a great all-around weekend. Henning posted two double-doubles last weekend as she is now leading the SEC with five during league play. Henning's big weekend led to her taking over the SEC lead in kills per set (4.55) and points per set (5.17) in SEC play this season, just beating out Tennessee's Kelsey Robinson.

Henning Two Kills Shy of Career Top-10 At Mizzou
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou's Lisa Henning could move into the Mizzou top-10 in career kills as she is just two shy of sole possession of 10th place all time. With two kills against Mississippi State, Henning will pass Lisa Morris (1999-2002) who posted 1,076 kills. It is realistic to think that Henning could rank as high as sixth all-time at Mizzou following the season and she should be within striking distance of the all-time career kills record at Mizzou next season (1,658 by Shen Danru from 2002-05). Henning is the second-fastest Tiger to ever eclipse 1,000 career kills, trailing only Danru.

Little Playing Big
Another developing trend for the Tigers this season is the play of sophomore middle hitter Whitney Little, especially over the last 10 matches as she has seemed to rewrite the record book every time she played in that span. Little has five 10-block matches in that span, resetting the Mizzou record for 10-block matches in a career. The previous record had been four by former Tiger All-American Christi Myers - keep in mind, Little broke that career mark in a span of just nine matches after posting 11 blocks at Tennessee last Friday. Below are a few notables on Little.

    • Little is seventh nationally in blocks per set (1.58) and leads the SEC overall and in league matches (2.03)
    • Little is also fourth nationally in solo blocks (20) and 22nd in hitting as well (2.03).
    • She has five 10-block matches in her last 10, resetting the school record for career and season 10-block matches
    • Little has two block-kill doubles this season; 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
    • Little sits atop the all-time Mizzou career records in blocks per set (1.25) and is second in hitting (.329)
    • Little is on pace to shatter her own single season blocking record (138) as she is on pace for more than 170 blocks
    • Little owns the SEC's top five blocking marks this season and leads the SEC in blocking

Little In Elite Company
Although Whitney Little's blocking has generated most of the headlines as of late, her all-around play is reason for excitement for the Tiger coaching staff. Heading into the weekend, Little is the only player in the nation to post most than 1.35 blocks per set, 20 solo blocks, 75 block assists and at least a .380 attack percentage. Those numbers should put Little in the conversation for some lofty post season accolades.

Transformation For Little
Although Whitney Little has ascended to No. 7 nationally in blocks per set, her numbers this season may not reflect how good she has been as of late after she got off to a slow start (by her standards) blocking this season). In fact, through her first seven matches, Little was averaging just 0.86 blocks per set with 19 total blocks (four solo, 15 assists) in that span. But since that time, Little has been on a role, averaging 1.98 blocks per set in her last 11 while averaging 2.47 kills per set on .374 hitting. Keep in mind, eight of those 11 matches have been SEC contests.

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 14 of 16 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 seven of 16 matches and at least nine in nine of 16 matches this season.

Official RPI Rankings Released
The NCAA released its official RPI rankings on last Monday and the Tigers moved up one spot this week to No. 49 in the rankings as they are one of seven SEC teams ranked in the RPI top 50. That bodes well for the league moving forward as it will look to secure multiple NCAA Tournament berths. Last year, the Tigers were an at-large selection to the NCAA Tournament with an RPI of 32. Below are a look at the SEC rankings in the NCAA RPI.

    • Florida - 13 (Tigers play twice; one remaining match)
    • Kentucky - 18 (Tigers play twice)
    • Arkansas - 20 (Tigers play once)
    • Tennessee - 21 (Tigers split two matches)
    • Texas A&M - 24 (Tigers play twice; one remaining match)
    • Auburn - 45 (Tigers play once)
    • Mizzou 48

Tigers Second in SEC, 22nd Nationally in Hitting
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou ranks among the national elite in team hitting percentage at .270, ranking it second in the SEC and 22nd 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 .270 clip would be the fourth-best attack clip in program history, trailing only the 2005 team (.299), the 2000 team (.289) and the 2002 team (.260).

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 this season. In addition to guiding the team to a .270 attack percentage, Kreklow also proved to be a formidable attacker, posting 71 kills on just 134 attacks with just 14 errors, good for a .425 clip. Kreklow entered the season as a .179 career attacker, so her .425 clip is a vast improvement.

A Look at Kreklow Historically
Through her two-plus seasons at Mizzou, Molly Kreklow has guided the team to a .241 attack percentage and 13.43 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 .180 attack percentage, good for the fifth-best clip in the SEC this season. In fact, Mizzou has limited its opponents to under .200 hitting in 12 of 18 matches, winning 11 of those. The Tigers have not held their opponents under .200 hitting in a season since 2005.

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 4.87 digs per set, second-best in the SEC. Before the change, Meister was averaging just 1.85 digs per set and a .941 serve receive mark. She has posted at least 20 digs in five of her eight matches as libero, including a career-best 27 at LSU and 23 in her first-ever start at libero against No. 17 Tennessee. Last weekend, Meister pulled in 48 digs (24 at both Tennessee and Alabama) and committed just two reception errors on 60 chances, good for a team-best .967 clip over the weekend.

Scouting Mississippi State
The Bulldogs come into Sunday's match at just 4-12 overall and 0-7 in SEC play. They are last in the league in nearly every statistical category and are led by the hitting duo of Taylor Scott and Sarah Nielsen. Scott leads the team with 172 kills (2.92 per set) on .124 hitting while Nielsen averages 2.59 kills per set on a team-best .272 hitting. The Bulldogs have struggled hitting this season, posting just a .156 clip while allowing opponents to hit .227 while averaging more than 14.00 kills per set. Those high hitting numbers allowed to opponents comes despite very good play from the back row, which averaged 17.31 digs per set, anchored by freshman libero Roxanne McVey, who averages an SEC-best 6.14 digs per set. She had 50 digs against LSU earlier this season as she is one of the best liberos in the league statistically.

Series Information
Mizzou and Mississippi State have met just once in the history of both programs and it came in 2004. The Tigers swept that match as they hit .430 as a team against the Bulldogs at the Hearnes Center. Current assistant coach Lindsey Hunter was the setter for that Tiger team and spread 37 assists in the win. Of course, Wayne and Susan Kreklow were the coaches of that Mizzou team as they are 1-0 lifetime against the Bulldogs.

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 Top Junior in SEC
Looking deeper into Lisa Henning's numbers so far, her 1,072 career kills are fourth among active SEC players and tops among SEC juniors, just ahead of Tennessee's Kelsy Robinson. The three players ranked ahead of Henning on the list are all seniors as Arkansas' Jasmine Norton leads all active SEC players in kills. 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 55 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 - 56 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.

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 6-2 inside the confines of their home arena. In fact, Mizzou is 1-1 against top-25 teams as well with its only losses coming to No. 23 Michigan and Texas A&M, an RPI top-25 team. So far, Mizzou is averaging 2,219 fans per match this season, ranking it in the top 15 in the country.

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
Mizzou will head back on the road at Ole Miss and Auburn next weekend. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.

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