Mizzou Opens Four-Match Road Trip at Ole Miss, Auburn

MUTIGERS.COM
<i>Lisa Henning leads the SEC in kills per set and points per set this season.</i>

MUTIGERS.COM
Lisa Henning leads the SEC in kills per set and points per set this season.
MUTIGERS.COM

Oct. 16, 2012

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Mizzou Volleyball (14-5, 6-3 SEC) at Ole Miss (8-10, 2-7 SEC), Auburn (13-6, 4-5 SEC)
Date: Oct. 19-21
Time: 7:30 pm (CT), 1:30 p.m. (CT)
Location: Oxford, Miss., Auburn, Ala.
Live Stream: MizzouNetwork.com
Twitter Updates: @MU_Volleyball
Notes: Notes - Ole Miss & Auburn Get Acrobat Reader

What's Inside? - A Quick Look at the Notes
• The Tigers open a four-match road trip with contests at Ole Miss and Auburn this weekend.
• Friday's match at Ole Miss will air live on SportSouth, the Tigers' third televised match this season.
• Sunday's matchup at Auburn marks a rematch of a 3-0 Mizzou sweep last season at Middle Tennessee.
• The Tigers stayed put at No. 48 in this week's RPI rankings, placing them sixth in the SEC.
• Auburn ranks 49th in the RPI, one spot behind MU, giving Sunday's match big NCAA Tourney implications.
• Mizzou has the sixth-fewest attack errors in the nation and the second-fewest among teams with 19 matches.
• Mizzou averages an SEC-best 3.32 blocks per set in SEC matches and has at least 10 blocks in seven straight.
• The Tigers have posted at least 10 blocks in 10 of 19 matches and at least nine in 12 matches.
Whitney Little is 12th nationally in bps (1.52), 4th in solo blocks (20) and 39th in hitting (.379).
• Little leads the SEC in blocks per set (1.52) in all matches and in SEC matches (1.88).
• 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.
Lisa Henning cracked the Mizzou all-time top 10 on the career kills list as she is now 10th with 1,089 kills.
• She is the second-fastest Tiger to ever reach 1,000 kills, trailing on Shen Danru.
• Henning is No. 4 on the active kill leaders list in the SEC w/ 1,089. She is the top junior on the list.
• Henning also leads the SEC in kills per set and points per set in league matches and all matches this season.
• Setter Molly Kreklow is second in the SEC with 11 double-doubles this season.
• In her three years as a Tiger setter, Kreklow has guided the team to a .241 attack clip and 13.41 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 has gone over 20 digs in five of nine matches since switching to libero.
• Meister is averaging 4.79 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 Begin Four-Match Road Trip with Crucial Matchups
As the Mizzou volleyball team approaches the mid-way mark of SEC play, it will open a four-match road trip with a big weekend at Ole Miss and Auburn in what could shake up to be a crucial RPI weekend for the Tigers. In search of their 11th NCAA Tournament in 13 seasons, the Tigers will face Ole Miss (8-10, 2-7 SEC) on Friday before heading to the Auburn on Sunday for a matchup between a pair of RPI top-50 teams. Mizzou checks in a 48th in this week's RPI while Auburn is 49th, meaning the winner could have an inside path at an NCAA Tournament bid. Friday's match at Ole Miss will air live on SportSouth as well.

Mizzou Tied for Second in Loaded SEC East
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou stands at 14-5 and 6-3 in SEC play, ranking the in a three-way tie for second place in the SEC East with Tennessee and Kentucky. All three of those teams are chasing SEC front-runner Florida, which is 9-0 in league play so far. The fact that the Tigers are tied for second in the SEC East is quite an accomplishment for the Tigers, who are in their inaugural season in the SEC, especially when considering how strong the East is. In fact, despite having one less team than the SEC West, the SEC East has combined for 34 wins against just 20 losses while the SEC West is just 25-39 so far this season in league play. In fact, Mizzou is just a game behind SEC West leader Texas A&M, which is 7-2 in the standings.

Last Time Out
The Mizzou volleyball team kept pace in the loaded SEC East with its six win last weekend, defeating Mississippi State in straight sets (25-15, 25-21, 25-19) in its only match of the week on Sunday. The Tigers were paced by 14 kills on .306 hitting from All-American Lisa Henning, who also added eight digs and five blocks in the win. A recurring theme for the Tigers this season has been the block and it was on display again on Sunday as they had 12 blocks in just three sets as they continue to lead the league in blocks per set in league play (3.32) and overall (2.86).

Cutting Down the Errors
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou ranks second in the SEC in hitting at .269 and a key reason for that mark is the Tigers' ability to cut down on attack errors. In fact, Mizzou has the sixth-fewest attack errors in the country so far this season and is averaging just 3.87 errors per set. In fact, four of the five teams that rank ahead of the Tigers have played two fewer matches than Mizzou's 19. BYU is the only team in the nation to play more than 17 matches and have fewer errors than the Tigers as it has just 247 attack errors in 19 matches. Only Washington and BYU have fewer attack errors per set than the Tigers this season. Below is a look at the standings.

    • Washington - 215 errors - 17 matches - 3.77 per set
    • Nebraska - 239 errors - 17 matches - 3.91 per set
    • Florida - 240 errors - 17 matches - 4.06 per set
    • Texas - 245 errors - 17 matches - 4.08 per set
    • BYU - 247 errors - 19 matches - 3.74 per set
    • Mizzou - 259 errors - 19 matches - 3.87 per set

Henning Joins Elite Company
Junior All-American Lisa Henning has been rewriting the Mizzou record books since her freshman season and she just joined elite company last weekend as she cracked the all-time Mizzou top 10 in career kills with 1,089 in her two-plus seasons at Mizzou. She now ranks 10th all-time, passing Lisa Morris on the list. She is just 31 kills shy of tying Naaron Branson for ninth and has a realistic shot of ranking as high as 7th on the list by season's end. That will put her within striking distance of the all-time record holder, Shen Danru (1,658 kills from 2002-05). Below are a few notables on Henning.
    • First Tiger underclassman ever to be named All-American (third team last year) and is Mizzou's sixth All-American
    • Led the Big 12 in kills, kills per set and points per set in league matches last season, the first Tiger to do so
    • Currently leads the SEC in kills per set and points per set in all matches and league matches
    • Is currently fourth in the SEC among active players in career kills and is the top junior on the list
    • Recently broke into the 1,000-kill club, the 11th Tiger to do so.
    • She is the second-fastest Tiger ever to 1,000 career kills (four-year players).
    • Is on pace to shatter that all-time career kills record at Mizzou, currently held by Shen Danru.
    • Set a Mizzou record with 523 kills in 2011 and is on pace to break that this season
    • Preseason All-SEC Team member
    • Three-time Big12/SEC Player of the Week in her career

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 2.86 blocks per set average while its 191.5 total blocks leads the SEC as well. The 2.86 blocks per set clip ranks the Tigers 18th nationally. The numbers are even better in SEC play as the Tigers are averaging 3.32 blocks per set with a league-leading 113.0 total blocks. The next-best total by an SEC team in league matches is 96 by Tennessee and LSU.

More on the Block
The Tigers have had at least 10 blocks in seven straight matches and eight of their nine SEC matches this season. The Tigers' current 2.86 blocks per set would rank second all-time at Mizzou, trailing only the 2000 team. That would be a Mizzou rally-scoring record and a 25-point set era record as well.

Little Playing Big
Another developing trend for the Tigers this season is the play of sophomore middle hitter Whitney Little, especially over the last 11 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 on Oct. 5. Below are a few notables on Little.

    • Little is 12th nationally in blocks per set (1.52) and leads the SEC overall and in league matches (1.88)
    • Little is also fourth nationally in solo blocks (20) and 39th in hitting as well (.379).
    • She had five 10-block matches in a span of nine matches. That reset the school record for career 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 (1.23) and is fourth in hitting (.317)
    • Little could her own single season blocking record (138). 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 .375 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. 12 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 1.86 blocks per set in her last 12 while averaging 2.35 kills per set on .352 hitting. Keep in mind, nine of those 12 matches have been SEC contests.

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. 48 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 - 12 (Tigers play twice; one remaining match)
    • Kentucky - 17 (Tigers play twice)
    • Tennessee - 18 (Tigers play once)
    • Arkansas - 26 (Tigers split two matches)
    • Texas A&M - 28 (Tigers play twice; one remaining match)
    • Mizzou 48
    • Auburn - 49 (Tigers play once)

Tigers Second in SEC, 21st Nationally in Hitting
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou ranks among the national elite in team hitting percentage at .269, ranking it second in the SEC and 21st nationally. If the season ended today, the .269 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 (.280).

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 .269 attack percentage, Kreklow also proved to be a formidable attacker, posting 74 kills on just 141 attacks with just 15 errors, good for a .418 clip. Kreklow entered the season as a .179 career attacker, so her .418 clip is a vast improvement.

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. The Tigers have held their opponents to under .200 hitting in three of the last four matches and the last two. To back up how important this is to the Tigers' success, they are 10-1 when holding their opponents to under .200 hitting while they are 4-4 when teams hit better than .200 in matches this season.

Scouting Ole Miss
The Rebels come into Friday's match at 8-10 overall and 2-7 in SEC play. Their only wins in SEC play came against South Carolina and Mississippi State. They have lost four in a row. Ole Miss hits just .198 as a team and is allowing opponents to hit .213. Kara Morgan leads the team with a 3.18 kps average.

Series Information
Mizzou is 6-3 all-time against Ole Miss with three of those matches coming in the Kreklow-era. The last meeting was a 3-0 sweep of the Rebels back in September at the Hearnes Center. Mizzou took it to the Rebels in that one, hitting .347 with 47 kills. Whitney Little dig a lot of the damage with 13 kills on 18 errorless attacks (good for a .722 attack clip) while Lisa Henning added 13 kills on .312 hitting.

Scouting Auburn
As a team, Auburn is hitting .226 while holding opponents to .171 hitting, thanks to a good block that averages 2.52 per set. The Tigers are coming off of a rough weekend, being swept at Georgia and Florida and stand at 13-6 overall and 4-5 in SEC play. Sarah Bullock leads the team with 3.34 kills per set.

Series Information
Mizzou and Auburn are tied in the all-time series at one win apiece. Of course, Mizzou defeated Auburn last season, 3-0 (25-22, 25-13, 25-17), at the Middle Tennessee Blue Raider Bash. Lisa Henning led the Tigers with 12 kills on 21 errorless attacks (.571 hitting) in the win while Whitney Little had eight kills on nine errorless attacks (.889 hitting). Also, Emily Wilson added eight kills on 14 swings (.500 hitting) as Mizzou hit .452 as a team in the sweep. Auburn won its only meeting back in 1996, a 3-0 sweep.

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 4.79 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 nine matches as libero, including a career-best 27 at LSU and 23 in her first-ever start at libero against No. 17 Tennessee. In matches at Tennessee and Alabama two weeks ago, 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 9.67 reception percentage.

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.

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.

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 57 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 - 57 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 7-2 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-30 team. So far, Mizzou is averaging 2,199 fans per match this season, ranking it 15th 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
The Tigers will return to the road for another televised match, this time at Georgia. The match is set to air live on ESPNU at 6 p.m. (CT) on Wednesday, Oct. 24. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.

 

 

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