Whitney Little has been the Tigers' No. 2 hitter as of late.
Oct. 24, 2011
The Opening Serve - What You Need to Know
Mizzou will look to avenge a five-set home loss to Kansas State as it travels to Manhattan, Kan., for a Wednesday tilt with the Wildcats at 6:30 p.m. at Aheard Fieldhouse. The match will air live on Fox Sports Kansas City, marking the fifth time Mizzou has been televised this season.
Mizzou has won three of its last four matches with its only loss in that span coming at No. 10 Texas last Saturday. The Tigers lost in five sets to Kansas State at home earlier this season and will look for revenge as they open the second half of the Big 12 schedule this week.
Sophomore Lisa Henning is averaging 4.82 kills per set and 5.38 points per set in Big 12 matches and has eclipsed the 20-kill mark in five of those matches, including a career-best 27 on two occasions. Wednesday's match will pit Henning against the player chasing her in both categories - KSU's Kaitlynn Pelger.
Freshman Whitney Little has been the Tigers' No. 2 attacker behind Henning in the last seven matches as she is hitting .303 with 56 total kills while pitching in eight aces and 35 total blocks (seven solo, 28 assists). She is second on the team behind only Henning with 85.0 points over her last seven. She has posted at least 10 kills three times in that span and matched her career-best with seven blocks three times in that span as well.
What's Inside? - A Quick Look at the Notes
Mizzou will begin the second half of Big 12 play at Kansas State on Wednesday (Oct. 26) in Manhattan.
The match will air live on Fox Sports KC at 6:30 p.m. and will mark the Tigers' fifth TV match this season.
10 of Mizzou's 17 wins have come against teams that won at least 20 matches last season.
Mizzou is No. 37 in the NCAA RPI rankings, placing it sixth in the Big 12.
Head coach Wayne Kreklow sits just three wins shy of his 400th as a collegiate women's coach.
Mizzou is averaging nearly 2.00 aces per set over the last five matches. MU averaged just 1.19 prior to that.
Lisa Henning leads all Big 12 attackers in kills per set (4.82) and points per set (5.38) in league play.
Henning has eclipsed the 20-kill mark in five of her last eight matches, including a career-best 27 twice.
Henning holds three of the Big 12's top four kill performances in league play this season.
Over her last seven Big 12 matches, Henning is averaging 4.87 kills per set (146 total) with 163.5 points.
Setter Molly Kreklow has recorded a double-double in eight of her last 12 matches.
Kreklow now ranks third in the Big 12 in assists per set at 10.62 and leads the league in total assists at 988.
Tiger senior Brittney Brimmage ranks first in the Big 12 in hitting at .379.
Freshman Whitney Little is hitting .303 with 56 kills, eight aces and 35 blocks over her last seven matches.
Mizzou ranks second in the Big 12 and ninth nationally in average home attendance this week.
Priscilla Armendariz sits just 11 digs shy of No. 6 on Mizzou's all-time career digs list.
Armendariz will play in her 122nd match as a Tiger Wednesday, which will rank her seventh all-time at MU.
Tigers Head to Kansas State
The Mizzou volleyball team, which has won three of its last four matches, will head to Kansas State on Wednesday (Oct. 26) for a televised match on Fox Sports Kansas City at 6:30 p.m. at Ahearn Fieldhouse. The Tigers have completed the first half of Big 12 play and will open the second half with a tough road match at Kansas State, which like the Tigers, is receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 Poll. MUTigers.com will have links to Gametracker and live radio on Mizzou All-Access.
Last Time Out
The Tigers lost for the first time in their last four matches at No. 10 Texas last Saturday in a 3-0 (17-25, 19-25, 14-25) sweep in Austin. The loss came despite a great effort from freshman middle hitter Whitney Little, who hit a team-best .444 with a team-high 10 kills while accounting for 12 total points. No other Tiger hit better than .154 in the match as Little was one of the few bright spots for the Tigers on the evening.
Make or Break Week?
As the Tigers open the second half of Big 12 play this week, the Tigers stand at 17-8 overall and 3-5 in Big 12 play. At No. 37 in the RPI and just three wins shy of 20 on the year, Mizzou appears to be in good shape for a second-straight NCAA Tournament appearance but has a tough road ahead. Beginning with this week, Mizzou will look to gain a pair of wins over teams in the RPI top 30 at Kansas State and at home against Oklahoma. The Tigers fell to both teams in five sets during the first half of Big 12 play but had chances to win both matches. Should the Tigers take both this week, they will be in pretty good shape for another NCAA Tournament berth.
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 vs. Pelger Highlights Wednesday's Match
Wednesday's match at Kansas State marks one of the most exciting head-to-head matches in the Big 12 this week as Mizzou's Lisa Henning will look to out-perform KSU's Kaitlynn Pelger. The pair ranks 1-2, respectively, in both kills per set and points per set during Big 12 play and have arguably been the league's top two attackers during league play. Henning took round No. 1 from Pelger with her 24 kills and 28.0 points in the teams' first meeting, but Pelger's Wildcats came out on top in the match.
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 (4.82) and in points per set (5.38) 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 eight matches and has reset her career-high four times in that span.
Henning owns three of the league's top four 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.
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 159 kills are 27 more than the next-best Big 12 athlete - Allison Mayfield of Kansas.
She also leads the Big 12 in points (177.5) and points per set (5.38) by a wide margin during Big 12 play. Her 177.5 total points leads KSU's Kaitlynn Pelger by 31.0 in league play.
Henning was named Big 12 Player of the Week for the first time in her career on Oct. 17 after averaging 6.12 kills per set on .302 hitting in wins over Kansas and Texas Tech.
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 times 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. 37 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.
Mizzou has won three of its last four matches. The only loss in that span came at No. 10 Texas on Saturday.
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-35 team, while one of their two neutral site losses came to WKU which ranks 23rd in the RPI. Mizzou's five road losses have all come to RPI top-50 teams while two of those came in five sets and three came against teams that rank in the RPI top 25.
Over the Tigers' last five matches, they have been serving the ball much better. Heading into that stretch, Mizzou was averaging 1.19 aces per set but has averaged 1.89 per frame over the last five, including a season-best 10 against Central Arkansas last Monday. Before that stretch, Mizzou was sixth in the Big 12 and ninth in the Big 12 during league play but now ranks third in both categories.
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 16 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 25. 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 (25 matches).
Not So Little Lately
Freshman middle hitter Whitney Little has been very impressive over her last seven matches, emerging as one of the Tigers' top offensive weapons. In fact, Little is hitting .303 with 56 kills - third on the team - with eight service aces and a team-high 35 total blocks (seven solo, 28 assists). She is second on the team with 85.0 total points in that span, trailing only sophomore outside hitter Lisa Henning. She has tallied at least 10 kills in a match three times in that span and had nine against Texas Tech. She has also matched her career-best with seven total blocks three times in her last seven matches and her eight aces are second on the team in that span.
Over her last 12 matches, sophomore setter Molly Kreklow has posted eight double-doubles as she continues to lead the team with nine so far this season. In her two years as a starter, Kreklow has compiled 22 double-doubles in 58 total matches. In fact, Kreklow is second on the team in digs per set this season with her 2.14 average and her 199 total digs trail only senior libero Priscilla Armendariz (351) for the team lead. Keep in mind that her 199 digs this season have all come from the setter position.
Kreklow Third in Assists Per Set
Kreklow comes into the Kansas State match averaging 10.62 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.
Brimmage Leads Big 12 in Hitting
Senior middle hitter Brittney Brimmage is first in the Big 12 in hitting at .379 this season, just ahead of Texas' Rachael Adams, who was dubbed Big 12 Player of the Year in the preseason. Of the league's top 10 hitters this season, Brimmage is fourth in total kills and she is one of just two players in the Big 12 to post at least 220 kills with at least a .350 hitting percentage.
Returning to Form
In all, Brimmage is hitting .361 with 74 kills over her last eight 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 1,138 after collecting five at Texas. She also played in her 433nd career set at Mizzou last Saturday which ranks 10th all time. Saturday's match for Armendariz was also the 121st of her career, which ranks 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).
Meister Impressive as of Late
Over her last 11 matches, freshman defensive specialist Sarah Meister has helped stabilize a Tiger back row that struggled early in the season over her last 11 matches. In fact, she is averaging 2.14 digs per set (third on the team). The two players she trails play all six rotations while Meister plays just three. Also, she has pitched in six aces in that span, five of which have come in the last three matches, including a career-best three against UCA.
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 ninth nationally and second 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 Kansas State
Kansas State enters Wednesday's match at 15-7 overall and 4-4 in Big 12 play. At home this year, Kansas State is 5-3 with two of the three losses coming against top 25 teams. K-State is anchored by setter Caitlyn Donahue, who is putting together a great season as she is averaging a Big12-best 11.41 assists per set. Her primary target is outside hitter Kaitlynn Pelger, who is averaging 4.59 kills per set (a Big 12-best) on .329 hitting, ranking seventh in the Big 12. One of KSU's strengths is its blocking as it tallied 2.53 per set, ranking fourth in the Big 12. Pelger leads the Wildcats in blocks as well with a 1.12 per set average.
In the back row, libero Kuulie Kabalis leads the team with a 3.54 digs per set average while Pelger and Donahue play a big role in the back as well with 2.76 dps and 2.61 dps averages, respectively.
K-State leads the all-time series with Mizzou, 41-33, but Mizzou has claimed three of the last four meetings despite dropping a five-setter in Columbia earlier this season. The Tigers won at Kansas State for the first time since 2006 with a 3-1 win last season.
The Last Meeting
Mizzou dropped a tightly-contested match to the Wildcats at the Hearnes Center on Sept. 28, 3-2 (33-31, 20-25, 21-25, 25-19, 12-15). The match featured 37 ties and 10 lead changes as well. Lisa Henning led Mizzou with 24 kills and 28.0 total points in the loss while middle hitter Brittney Brimmage tallied 12 kills on .391 hitting. The difference in the match turned out to be K-State's ability to get extra attacks as they swung 193 times, converting those into 78 kills, while Mizzou tallied just 66 kills on 171 kills. Mizzou posted a season-high 15.0 total blocks in the match as well, highlighted by seven from freshman middle blocker Whitney Little and a career-best six from Henning.
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 105 blocks and her 1.13 blocks per set rank her seventh in the Big 12 Conference. Adding to her production, Little is hitting .333 with 131 kills this season and had 17 kills on .483 hitting with eight total blocks last week against UCA and at No. 10 Texas.
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.
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.
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.
The Mizzou volleyball team will hold its annual `Can the Sooners' night at the Hearnes Center on Saturday (Oct. 24) against the nationally-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Fans will receive free admission to the Tigers' match against the Sooners with the donation of two canned food items. All donations go to the Central Missouri Food Bank. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.
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