Volleyball Heads to No. 8 Texas

<i>Mizzou and Texas are the Big 12's top two hitting teams.</i>

Mizzou and Texas are the Big 12's top two hitting teams.

Oct. 20, 2011

Date: Oct. 22
Time: 5 p.m.
Television: Longhorn Network (PBP: Mark Followill, C: Chris McGee)
Location: Austin, Texas
Arena: Gregory Gymnasium
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 are in search of their fourth straight win as they head to No. 8 Texas for a match that will air live on the Longhorn Network. The match is slated for a 5 p.m. start. The match pits the Big 12's top two hitting teams against each other.

• Sophomore Lisa Henning was named Big 12 Player of the Week for the first time in her career after averaging 6.12 kills per set on .302 hitting last week. She tallied a career-best 27 kills in the Tigers' win over Kansas and followed that with a 22-kill performance in the Tigers' victory over Texas Tech. She is the third Tiger to take home Big 12 Player of the Week honors this season.

• Henning is averaging 5.07 kills per set and 5.69 points per set over her last six Big 12 matches and has eclipsed the 20-kill mark in five of those six matches, including a career-best 27 on two occasions. In fact, Henning leads all Big 12 players in kills per set (5.00) and points per set (5.58) in league matches this season.

• Setter Molly Kreklow has been a double-double machine lately, posting eight double-doubles in her last 11 matches. Kreklow just missed another on Saturday with 48 assists and seven digs. She leads the team with nine this season.

What's Inside? - A Quick Look at the Notes
• Mizzou will take its three-match win streak to No. 10 Texas. The match will air on the Longhorn Network.
• The Tigers are riding a three-match winning streak after defeating Kansas, Texas Tech and Central Arkansas.
• 10 of Mizzou's 17 wins have come against teams that won at least 20 matches last season.
• Mizzou is No. 36 in the NCAA RPI rankings that were announced this week, ranking sixth in the Big 12.
• Head coach Wayne Kreklow sits just three wins shy of his 400th as a collegiate women's coach.
Lisa Henning leads all Big 12 attackers in kills per set (5.00) and points per set (5.58) in league play.
• Henning was named Big 12 Player of the Week after averaging 6.12 kps on .302 hitting last week.
• Henning has eclipsed the 20-kill mark in five of her last seven matches, including a career-best 27 twice.
• Henning holds the Big 12's top three kill performances in league play and four of the top six performances.
• Over her last six Big 12 matches, Henning is averaging 5.07 kills per set (137 total) with 153.5 total points.
• Setter Molly Kreklow has recorded a double-double in eight of her last 11 matches.
• Kreklow now ranks third in the Big 12 in assists per set at 10.73 and leads the league in total assists at 966.
• Tiger senior Brittney Brimmage ranks second in the Big 12 in hitting at .386.
• Mizzou tallied a season-best 10 service aces in its win over Texas Tech last Saturday.
• Mizzou ranks first in the Big 12 and seventh nationally in average home attendance this week.
Priscilla Armendariz sits just 16 digs shy of No. 6 on Mizzou's all-time career digs list.
• Armendariz will play in her 121th match as a Tiger on Saturday, which will rank her eighth all-time at MU.

Tigers Set to Face No. 10 Texas
Currently riding a three-match win streak, the Mizzou volleyball team will make its way to Austin, Texas, for a showdown with the No. 10-ranked Longhorns at 5 p.m. on Saturday (Oct. 22). The match will air live nationally on the Longhorn Network with Chris McGee and Kelli Tennant providing the call. Live audio of the match can be found at MUTigers.tv while Gametracker will be provided at MUTigers.com

Last Time Out
The Tigers extended their winning streak to three consecutive matches after defeating Central Arkansas, 3-1 (28-26, 25-23, 25-10), on Monday night at the Hearnes Center. Mizzou hit .340 in the win due in large part to a third set that saw it hit .520 with 13 kills on 25 errorless attacks. Senior middle hitter Brittney Brimmage led Mizzou with 10 kills on .643 hitting while sophomore and reigning Big 12 Player of the Week Lisa Henning posted a match high 15 points with nine kills, two block assists and a career-best five service aces in the win. Mizzou's .340 clip in the match was its best since hitting a season-best .452 in a sweep of Auburn in the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raider Bash championship match.

Henning Named Big 12 Player of the Week
Tiger sophomore Lisa Henning was named Big 12 Player of the Week for the first time in he career on Monday after she led Mizzou to a pair of wins last week by averaging 6.12 kills per set on .302 hitting. Henning is the third Tiger to take home the award this season after Molly Kreklow and Brittney Brimmage did so in back-to-back weeks to open the season.

Kreklow Three 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 three 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 748 wins as a coaching duo, 239 of which have come during their 11-plus seasons at Mizzou.

Henning Continues to Impress During League Play
Sophomore outside hitter Lisa Henning has put together an impressive stretch during Big 12 play as she leads the Big 12 in kills per set (5.00) and in points per set (5.58) in league matches. In fact, Henning holds a wide lead over the next-best competitor in both categories as well. Below are a few quick notes on Henning during Big 12 play.

• She has eclipsed 20 kills five times in seven matches and has reset her career-high four times in that span.
• Henning owns the league's top three kill totals in Big 12 matches this season and four of the top six marks as well. She had 27 at Baylor and against KU, 24 against Kansas State and 22 against Texas Tech last Wednesday.
• Henning also owns the top three point performances in Big 12 play this season with her 30.0 against Kansas and her 29.5 and 28.0 against Baylor and Kansas State, respectively.
• Henning is the only player to eclipse the 150-kill mark during Big 12 play so far this season.
• In fact, Henning's 150 kills are 37 more than the next-best Big 12 athlete - Suzy Boulavsky of Oklahoma.
• She is also leads the Big 12 in points (167.5) and points per set (5.58) by a wide margin during Big 12 play. Her 5.58 pps average is a sizeable lead over second-place (KSU's Pelger - 4.96) and her 167.5 total points leads OU's Boulavsky by 42.5 in league play.

Team Notes
With 17 wins this season, Mizzou is looking to break the 20-win plateau for the seventh time since 2000. In fact, before Wayne and Susan Kreklow took over the program in 2000, Mizzou eclipsed the 20-win mark just seven time from 1974-1999 and had not done so since 1983. Below are a few other team notes on the Tigers.

• Mizzou checks in at No. 36 in this week's NCAA RPI rankings. Keep in mind, the Tiger team that advanced to the Sweet 16 last season checked in at No. 42 in the RPI, so Mizzou is ahead of that pace this season.
• The Tigers are currently riding a three-match win streak after registering their first sweep since Sept. 10 at Denver. The three-match winning streak is also the Tigers' longest since winning four straight at the MTSU Blue Raider Bash during the second weekend of the season.
• Of Mizzou's 17 wins this season, 10 have come against teams that won at least 20 matches last season and four of those 10 teams won more than 26 matches in 2010.
• Mizzou is 8-1 at home and 7-2 in neutral site matches so far this season. Mizzou's only home loss this season came in five sets to Kansas State, an RPI top-30 team, while one of their two neutral site losses came to WKU which ranks 23rd in the RPI. Mizzou's four road losses have all come to RPI top-50 teams while two of those came in five sets and two rank in the RPI top 20.

Double-Double Machine
Over her last 11 matches, sophomore setter Molly Kreklow has posted eight double-doubles as she continues to lead the team with nine so far this season. Over the last 11 matches, Kreklow is averaging 2.83 digs per set, good for second-best on the team, trailing only senior libero Priscilla Armendariz, who is averaging 4.20 in that span.

Kreklow Tops 50 Assists in Four of Seven
Kreklow was two assists shy of 50 with her 48 against Texas Tech last Saturday, but the Tiger sophomore has still eclipsed 50 assists in four of her last seven matches. She began the streak with a then season-best outing 53 against Texas A&M, good for the second-best four-set total in the Big 12 this season. She then tallied a season-best 56 against Kansas State and had 52 at Baylor last Saturday. She is averaging 11.30 assists per set in that span and dished 34 (11.33 per set) against Central Arkansas on Monday.

Kreklow Third in Assists Per Set
Kreklow comes into the Texas Tech match averaging 10.73 assists per set as she continues to rank third in the Big 12 in assists per set. 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.

Cardiac Kids
Looking at the Tigers over the last several weeks, one thing is clear and that is that the Tigers have played in some tight matches. In fact, 12 of the Tigers' last 15 matches have lasted more than three sets while five of those 12 have gone the full five sets. In 33 matches last season, Mizzou played in 18 matches that lasted four sets or more while this season they have played 13 through 23. The big difference is in the amount of five-set matches as Mizzou played in just three all last season and has played in five already in 2011. In fact, Mizzou had played in just four five-set matches in 2009 and 2010 combined (65 matches) and has eclipsed that mark this season alone.

Brimmage Second in the Big 12 in Hitting
Senior middle hitter Brittney Brimmage is second in the Big 12 in hitting at .386 this season, just behind Texas' Rachael Adams, who was dubbed Big 12 Player of the Year in the preseason. That sets up a great battle of middle hitters this Saturday in Austin. In all, Brimmage has 224 kill on .386 hitting while Adams has 166 kills on .387 hitting. Brimmage's 224 kills rank her third among the league's top 10 hitters this season, trailing only KSU's Kaitlynn Pelger and Baylor's Brianna Tolbert.

Returning to Form
In all, Brimmage is hitting .382 with 69 kills over her last seven matches as she has seemed to regain the form that netted her Big 12 Player of the Week honors following the Middle Tennessee Blue Raider Bash. At MTSU, Brimmage hit .637 with 56 kills in those five matches but hit just .214 with 66 kills in the Tigers' next eight matches. But with her performance of late, she has seemed to regain the form that ranked her as one of the most feared attackers in the Big 12. She hit .643 with 10 kills against Central Arkansas on Monday.

Milestones for Pip
Senior libero Priscilla Armendariz moved into seventh place all-time on the career digs list at Mizzou as she now has 1,133 after collecting 14 against Central Arkansas on Monday. She also played in her 432nd career set at Mizzou on Monday which ranks 10th all time. Monday's match for Armendariz was also the 120th of her career, which ranks tied for eighth all-time at Mizzou. Should she play every match the rest of the way, Armendariz would ranks second all-time. She would need a postseason berth to take over the top spot (Julianna Klein, 130 matches played).

Back Row Improves Defensively in League Play
The Tigers have seen improved play from their back row during Big 12 play. In fact, Mizzou is averaging 14.50 digs per set in league play versus averaging just 13.65 in non-conference play. A key reason for that is the increased production of libero Priscilla Armendariz, who averaged just 3.53 digs per set in non-conference play but has seen that mark improve to 4.47 over the Tigers' seven Big 12 matches.

Mizzou Leads the League In Digs Allowed
Through 24 matches this season, the Tigers continue to lead the Big 12 in digs allowed at just 13.48 per set as their hitters have been very good. Mizzou has led the Big 12 in that category nearly all season as the opposition has struggled to slow the Tiger attack this season. Mizzou and Texas rank 1-2 in the league this season as Texas checks in just behind the Tigers at 13.49, setting up an intriguing matchup on Saturday.

An Ace in the Hole
Mizzou matched its season-high with 10 service aces in its win over Texas Tech last Saturday while committing just three service errors, marking one of its best serving matches of the season. Freshmen Witney Little and Sarah Meister led the way with three each as Meister's three aces are a career-high. Priscilla Armendariz and Katie O'Brien each added a pair of aces in the match as well. Mizzou jumped from eighth in the Big 12 in service aces per set during league matches to third following that performance. Mizzou is third overall in all matches with a 1.33 service aces per set average this season.

Big Crowds at Home
Despite only playing the eight home matches this year, huge crowds have flocked to the Hearnes Center as a total of 21,547 fans have watched the Tigers this season, good for 2,693 fans per match. That mark ranks the Tigers seventh nationally and first among Big 12 schools this season. Mizzou has surpassed the 3,000-fan mark three times this season, most recently in its Big 12 home-opener against Texas A&M.

The big crowds are a key reason why Mizzou has been able to race out to a 8-1 start inside the Hearnes Center this season. In fact, since Wayne and Susan Kreklow have taken over at Mizzou, the Tigers are 119-41 at home as they have won nearly 75-percent of their home matches under the Kreklows.

Scouting Texas
Texas comes into Saturday's match as the Big 12's hottest team after winning its last five matches and 11 of its last 12, including a win over Baylor Wednesday night in Waco. Texas has played one of the nation's toughest schedules this season and still boasts a 13-4 record this season while all four of its losses have come against top-25 teams.

As a team, Texas has one of the league's most balanced offenses, led by Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Rachael Adams. Averaging 2.63 kills per set on .387 hitting along with 1.25 blocks per set, Adams is one of the best players nationally. The bulk of the remaining offense is picked up by a pair of freshmen - Haley Eckerman and Khat Bell. Eckerman, who was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week this week, leads the team with her 3.34 kills per set average while hitting .231. Bell is averaging 2.52 kills per set with a .196 attack percentage.

Defensively, the Longhorn back row is anchored by libero Sydney Yogi, who averaged 3.44 digs per set.

Series Information
Texas leads Mizzou in the overall series, 20-10, and has won the last nine meetings, dating back to Nov. 11, 2006. In fact, Mizzou has not defeated Texas since Sept. 23, 2006 - a 3-0 sweep in Columbia - and the Tigers have not topped Texas in Austin since Sept. 18, 2006, in a 3-1 decision.

The Last Meeting
The Tigers snapped a six-match winning streak with a loss in Austin, 3-0 (15-25, 20-25, 17-25), on Nov. 17 last season. Lisa Henning had a nice night for the Tigers with eight kills on .292 hitting while Julianna Klein and Paola Ampudia tallied nine and seven kills, respectively, in the losing effort. As a team, Mizzou hit .066 in the match with 21 attack errors while Texas hit .378 with 48 kills on 98 attacks.

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).

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
Mizzou will be back on the road next Wednesday as it travels to Kansas State for a 6:30 p.m. match. that will air live on Fox Sports Kansas City. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.



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