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Tigers Begin Crucial Stretch at No. 10 Nebraska

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Over her last four matches, Annie Lopez ranks third on the team with 39 digs.</i>
MUTIGERS.COM
Over her last four matches, Annie Lopez ranks third on the team with 39 digs.
MUTIGERS.COM

Nov. 2, 2009

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Match Info: Mizzou (15-9, 6-6 Big 12) at No. 10 Nebraska (16-6, 9-4 Big 12)
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 4
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Lincoln, Neb.
Arena: NU Coliseum
Live Stats: www.MUTigers.com or Huskers.com
Streaming Radio: www.MUTigers.com
Television:Nebraska Education Television
Series Information: Mizzou has not beaten Nebraska since 2003 when they shocked the Huskers in a five-set thriller in Lincoln. Mizzou trails the all-time series 68-3-1, but two of the Tigers' three wins have come in Lincoln.

What You Need to Know
• The Tigers are in search of their first four-match winning streak of the season as they square off against Nebraska at the NU Coliseum.

• Wednesday's match against No. 10 Nebraska marks the first of two-straight contests against top 10 opponents. Mizzou will host No. 2 Texas at the Hearnes Center on Saturday.

• The Tigers have not beaten Nebraska since 2003 when they shocked Nebraska in five sets at the NU Coliseum. Mizzou has only beaten Nebraska three times in the program's history, but two of the three wins have come in Lincoln.

Julianna Klein returned to the Tiger lineup last week after missing three matches due to illness. Klein posted 13 kills on .393 hitting in limited time last week. She also added five digs, three aces and a solo block.

This Wednesday
Mizzou will hit the road for its first of two matches against top-10 teams this week as it will face No. 10 Nebraska at the NU Coliseum on Wednesday. The match will prove crucial for the Tigers - who stand at 15-9 overall and 6-6 in Big 12 play - as they look to pad their NCAA Tournament resume. Mizzou has not beaten Nebraska since 2003 when they shocked the Huskers in a five-set thriller in Lincoln. Mizzou trails the all-time series 68-3-1, but two of the Tigers' three wins have come in Lincoln. A win Wednesday would help solidify Mizzou as an NCAA Tournament contender this season.

Last Time Out
Mizzou squared off against SIU-Edwardsville on Saturday as they stepped out of league play for the final time this season. The Tigers rested several starters in the match as they coasted to a three-set victory over the Cougars. Julianna Klein and Paola Ampudia led Mizzou with nine kills each while eight different Tigers posted kills in the match. Weiwen Wang hit a season-best .636 with seven kills in the match as she returned to the middle hitter position after playing outside in her last three matches. Freshman setter Kate Harris also saw increased playing time as she entered the match at the 13-8 mark of the second set. She finished the match with 16 assists, her best since spreading 28 in the Tigers' win over Fairfield earlier this season.

The win over the Cougars improved Mizzou to 9-3 outside of league play this season, an improvement from last season when Mizzou went just 6-4 outside of the Big 12.

The Return of Klein
Although junior Paola Ampudia led Mizzou with 27 kills last week, the Tigers' two matches last week were all about the return of Julianna Klein, who had missed the previous three matches due to illness. Klein played in two of three sets against Kansas State on Wednesday and hit .500 with four kills in the match. She followed that by playing in all three sets against SIUE, posting a team-best nine kills on .350 hitting. For the week, the Tiger junior posted 13 kills on .393 hitting while serving up three aces.

Klein led Mizzou with 216 kills before missing those three matches and was averaging a team-best 3.22 kills per set. Her 229 total kills this season now ranks second on the team behind Paola Ampudia who has 273. With the return of Klein, Mizzou now boasts one of the best one-two punches in the league in her and Ampudia. In fact, Mizzou is one of only four teams in the Big 12 that features two players with at least 220 kills on the season.

Three in a Row
With Mizzou's win over SIUE on Saturday, it has now won three-straight matches, dating back to a four-set win at Kansas last Saturday. The three straight wins equals the Tigers' longest winning streak of the season - set on two separate occasions - and they will look to post their first four-match winning streak of the season on Wednesday against Kansas.

Nearly Perfect at Hearnes
Saturday's win over SIUE improved Mizzou to 10-1 inside Hearnes Center this season. The last time that Mizzou was 10-1 at home was 2002 when they opened the season 11-1 at home. Mizzou has swept six of its opponents at home and knocked off Texas A&M in its only five-set match of the season. At home, Mizzou has lost only eight sets this season, three of which came in its only loss of the season to Nebraska. The Tigers look to enact some revenge for their only home loss of the season as they face Nebraska on Wednesday in Lincoln.

It's That Time of Year...
...to start looking at the Tigers' NCAA Tournament resume. With the selection committee placing an increased emphasis on what teams did in the non-conference part of the schedule, Mizzou should feel pretty good as it racked up a 9-3 mark against non-Big 12 opponents, including one win over an RPI top-100 team and a 4-1 mark away from home. Staying on the RPI topic, Mizzou has earned four wins over RPI top 100 teams this season and has taken sets from thee others that rank in the top 100. Mizzou does not have a loss to a team ranked outside of the RPI top 100 this season. Finally, the Tigers have played nine teams that are currently ranked or receiving votes in the AVCA/Bison Top 25 poll or were ranked at the time that they played. Mizzou stands at six matches over .500 of the third time this season and 6-6 in the Big 12. A win at Nebraska on Wednesday would go a long way to helping Mizzou's tournament chances.

Dominating the Middle
Last week, the Tigers' four middle hitters - Catie Wilson, Amanda Hantouli, Brittney Brimmage and Weiwen Wang - seemed nearly unstoppable as they hit .354 with 37 kills in the Tigers' two wins last week. Wang paced the four by hitting .450 while Hantouli posted the most kills of the four with 11. Not only did the foursome shine offensively, but it pitched in 13 total blocks on the week and accounted for 45.0 total points on the week.

The Nebraska Connection
Over the past several years, Mizzou has seen a steady influx of players that call the Cornhusker state home. This season, Tiger middle blockers Amanda Hantouli and Catie Wilson represent the state of Nebraska. They are just two of 10 student-athletes that have played under Wayne and Susan Kreklow that have come from the state of Nebraska. Two of those 10 - Lindsey Hunter and Nicole Wilson - earned All-American accolades while another - Tatum Ailes - was named Big 12 Libero of the Year.

Spreading the Wealth
In each of the Tigers' last three wins, at least eight players on the Tiger roster collected kills, marking only the second time that Mizzou has done that in back-to-back-to-back matches this season. The previous time was a three-match stretch at the beginning of the season when Mizzou had eight players with a kill against BYU, Washington State and Utah Valley.

Winning Streak by the Numbers
During Mizzou's current three-match winning streak, there are plenty of numbers to support how well Mizzou has played in those three matches, most notably the team's .259 attack percentage - their best over any three-match span this season. The Tigers have also killed 28 more points than their opponents at 160-132 and have out-blocked their opponents 24-15 in that span. Mizzou has also served up 14 aces to their opponents' one in that span. In fact, Mizzou's opponents have served as many errors as the Tigers have aces in the past three matches.

Staying on the Ace Topic
Last week, Mizzou aced its two opponents - Kansas State and SIUE - 10 times while not committing a single reception error, finishing the week plus 10 in service aces. Mizzou's opponents finished the week with 12 service errors, giving Mizzou a net service margin of plus 15 on the week.

The Tigers currently rank first in the Big 12 with 1.35 service aces per set this season. Mizzou's 113 total aces leads the Big 12, 11 more than the second-place team. Both Caitlyn Vann (fifth, 0.30 per set) and Julianna Klein (fourth, 0.31 per set) rank amongst the Big 12's top 10 this season. Klein has posted the most service aces in a match by a Big 12 player with her eight against Colorado, while Vann's six aces against UMKC comes in ranked second overall. Catie Wilson served four against Texas Tech, the fourth-best mark in the league this season. Mizzou posted a season-best 11 aces in the win over Colorado and also hit the 11-ace mark against UMKC. That mark is tops in a Big 12 match this season.

52 Kills
Mizzou posted a three-set season-high 52 kills in its win over Kansas State last Wednesday. That mark is even more impressive when considering that the Tigers were just three shy of a season-low in attack errors in the match as they hit .333. Eight different Tigers posted a kill in the match as four Tigers posted at least seven. In addition, Mizzou limited K-State to just 38 kills in the match.

Scouting the Huskers
Nebraska comes into Wednesday's match as the Big 12's No. 3 team behind Texas and Iowa State at 16-6 overall and 9-4 in Big 12 play. The six total losses this season are more than Nebraska had in the two previous seasons combined as are their four Big 12 losses. They have also lost three matches at home this season and two of its last four matches.

The Huskers are led by a trio of players that have at least 200 kills in Hanna Werth (234), Tara Mueller (233) and Lindsey Licht (215).Werth, in just her freshman season, joins the Tigers' Paola Ampudia as one of the two frontrunners for the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year as she leads the team in kills and has pulled in 212 digs in her first year as a Husker.

Nebraska is hitting .235 this season and has posted 1,140 kills on the season. That along with its 15.96 digs per frame, makes Nebraska one of the best all-around teams in the nation. The Huskers lead the all-time series with Mizzou, 68-3-1.

43 Assists
Senior setter Lei Wang-Francisco passed out a three-set season-best 43 assists in the Tigers' win over K-State last Wednesday. The 43 assists are also the most by any Big 12 player in a three-set match this season. Wang-Francisco now has 4,528 assists in her career and needs 426 over the Tigers' last eight matches to move into second place all-time at Mizzou.

Season-Best for Mizzou
2,721 fans filed into the Hearnes Center last Wednesday night, a season-best for the Tigers. Over the last three home matches, Mizzou has seen 6,768 fans have packed into Hearnes, averaging 2,256 fans per contest.

Monkey off the Back?
The Tigers' win over Kansas marked Mizzou's first Big 12 road win of the 2009 season as the Tigers went 0-5 in the first half of Big 12 play on the road. Despite coming close at Oklahoma and at Kansas State, Mizzou had not won a true road match since September 5, when it knocked off Utah Valley. Mizzou won only two Big 12 matches on the road last season.

Making an Impact
Fifth-year senior Amanda Hantouli has made her presence felt as of late, coming off the bench and accounting for some big production. Her performance last Wednesday against K-State was evidence of that as she tallied a season-best seven kills on .385 hitting. She also came off the bench at Kansas and had a huge impact, posting four blocks - her most since the season-opening match against Texas State when she had eight - to help the Tigers out-block the Jayhawks, 10.0-7.0. Over her last three matches, Hantouli has 12 kills on .250 hitting with a team-best 10 blocks.

Hantouli now has 340 blocks in her career, fourth-most all-time at Mizzou while her 38 solos blocks are the most amongst active Tigers. Hantouli has 38 blocks on the season - which ranks fifth on the team.

Performance of a Lifetime?
The performance by Paola Ampudia at Kansas on Oct. 24 will likely go down as one of the best - if not the best - single-match effort in program history. Ampudia's 35 kills bested Yvette Buhlig's 20-year school record of 34 kills, set on September 5, 1989. The 35 kills are a Big 12 four-set record and she joins Buhlig as one of only two Tigers to post 30 or more kills in a four-set match. Her 78 attacks in the match are also a school-record - tying the mark set by Julianna Klein earlier this season in a five-set win over Texas A&M - and are the most-ever in a four-set match at Mizzou. Ampudia also pulled in 11 digs in the match, her second-best total of the season, to earn her third career double-double. Her .282 clip in the match is also her fourth-best of the season.

More on Paola
Over the last eight matches, few players in the Big 12 and nationally have been as dominant as Ampudia has. Averaging 5.14 kills per set, the Tiger junior has 144 kills - 91 more than any other Tiger - and is hitting .245 in that span. She is also tied for first on the team with 22 total blocks in those eight matches and is third on the team with 62 digs. In fact, all three of her kill-dig double-doubles this season have come in her last six matches. Ampudia now ranks second in the Big 12 in kills per set (4.34) and third in points per set (4.85) during league play and ranks sixth overall with 3.46 kills per set and fifth with 3.95 points per set this season. Ampudia did not rank in the top 10 in any of those statistical categories eight matches ago.

Weekly Honors for Paola
For her efforts two weeks ago, Ampudia was named Big 12 Player of the Week, her fourth Big 12 weekly honor of the season, the most by any Tiger in a single season. The Player of the Week laurel is the first of her career while she has taken home Big 12 Rookie of the Week three times. She is the only player in the history of the Big 12 to take home Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week honors in the same season. Ampudia averaged 7.29 kills per set that week while hitting .274 with 15 digs.

No `Hard-knock Life' for this Annie
Sophomore defensive specialist Annie Lopez posted 12 digs in the Tigers' win over K-State last Wednesday. The 12 digs match her season-high, set three matches earlier against Nebraska. Over her last four, Lopez ranks third on the team with 39 digs, trailing only libero Caitlyn Vann.

Cracking the Top 10
With 11 digs against SIUE, junior libero Caitlyn Vann moved into 10th place on Mizzou's single-season list with 363 in 2009. Vann now has 1,239 digs in her career and sits just 67 shy of cracking the top three all-time at Mizzou as well. Vann is averaging 4.32 dps and if the season were to end today, that mark would rank fourth all-time at Mizzou in a single season.

Playing Up to Her Competition
When playing against the top six teams in the Big 12 Conference this season, junior libero Caitlyn Vann has brought her best game. In those six matches against the leagues' top six teams, Vann is averaging 5.00 digs per set and has eclipsed the 20-dig plateau in three of those matches. Vann posted a season-best 29 digs against Texas A&M - the sixth-place team - and pulled in 21 and 20 against Oklahoma and Iowa State, respectively.

Nice Night for Lei
Senior setter Lei Wang-Francisco passed out a season-high and Big 12 four-set high 57 assists in Mizzou's win over Kansas. This season, Wang-Francisco has 112 assists against KU as she passed out her previous season-best 55 against KU back in September. The Tiger setter also pulled in 10 digs at Kansas for her team-leading sixth double-double this season. Wang-Francisco has now played in 425 sets as a Tiger, cracking the top 10 all time at No. 9.

Double-Double Trouble
Lei Wang-Francisco has begun to show that she is one of the best all-around players in the Big 12 Conference as of late. Wang-Francisco posted her team-leading sixth double-double of the season after handing out 57 assists and collecting 10 digs at Kansas last Saturday. She now ranks third on the team in total digs with 181, fourth in total blocks with 44 and has anchored the Tiger attack by handing out 851 assists this season.

Wilson's Back
After struggling by her standards against Texas and Nebraska, Catie Wilson had another fine performance at Kansas as she posted 13 kills on a team-best .433 hitting. Her 13 kills are a career-best and were second on the team to only Paola Ampudia. She followed that performance by hitting .389 with nine kills against K-State last Wednesday, moving her season clip to .327, sixth-best in the Big 12 this season. Wilson ranks fourth on the team with 175 kills this season and is first in blocks with 66 total (10 solo, 56 assists). She also has 17 service aces this season, moving her point total to 230.0 on the season, third-best on the team.

More on Wilson
With her 175 kills this season, Wilson is just 10 shy of equaling her kill total from her previous two seasons at Mizzou combined. Coming into the season Wilson had 185 kills in her freshman and sophomore seasons combined and has nearly doubled that mark with eight matches remaining in the 2009 regular season.

Wilson Goes Wild
Catie Wilson had one of her finest weeks as a Tiger against Colorado and Texas Tech as she hit .750 with 19 kills, four service aces and three blocks. Wilson hit .733 - the ninth-best clip in program history when totaling more than 10 kills - with 12 kills on 15 attacks. Her .733 clip is the second-best mark by any player in the Big 12 in a single match this season. She followed that with seven kills at clip of .778 and four aces in Mizzou's win over Texas Tech.

Relentless Attack
With 49 attacks at Kansas State earlier this season, junior outside hitter Julianna Klein passed Gwen Mullens for eighth-place on the Tigers' career attack list. Klein now has 2,853 total attacks at Mizzou, the most among active Tigers. She also is the active leader in total service aces (73) and kills (935).

Career Night for Klein
Julianna Klein posted the 1,000th point of her career in the Tigers' win over Texas A&M on her final kill of the match. Klein has the most points among active Tigers and with 179.5 more, she will crack the all-time top 10 career point list at Mizzou. Klein also posted a school-record 78 total attacks in that match.

No. 22 Nationally in Average Attendance
The 2,721 fans that watched Mizzou sweep K-State helped bump Mizzou's season average to 1,704 fans per match, ranking the team 22nd in the nation this season. Mizzou has ranked in the top 10 nationally in attendance from 2004-2008, prompting Volleyball Magazine to rank Hearnes as one of the top-10 toughest places to play in the nation.

Holding `em In Check
The Tigers had their best defensive match of the season against Texas A&M. The Aggies came into the match leading the Big 12 in hitting at .301 and the Tigers - due in large part to season-highs in total blocks (18.0) and digs (96) - limited A&M to .111 hitting, its worst output of the season. Mizzou is 12-0 this season when hitting at a better percentage than its opponents. Mizzou held UMKC and Texas A&M to a combined .055 hitting percentage that week, highlighted by a -.065 clip by the `Roos.

Quite a Comeback
In MU's match against Texas A&M, Mizzou rallied from down 2-0 to top the Aggies, 3-2, in its only five-set match of 2009. The win marked the first time since Oct. 1, 2005, that the Tigers have come back from a 2-0 deficit in a five-set match. The Tigers also limited Texas A&M to a then season-low .111 hitting. A&M entered the match hitting a Big 12-best .301.

Downright Defensive
In the Tigers' match with UMKC, they limited the `Roos to only 39 total points, their best mark of the season, and held the `Roos to -.065 hitting, their best mark since holding Alabama State to -.250 hitting on Aug. 25, 2006.

Return to Sender
In its win over Texas A&M, Mizzou posted a season-high 18.0 total blocks, their best since sending back 14.5 against Texas State in the 2009 opener. Senior setter Lei Wang-Francisco led the Tigers with a season-best six total blocks in the match while Catie Wilson, Weiwen Wang and Rosa Medrano each accounted for five in match.

Rookie of the Week Part Three
Junior Paola Ampudia was named Big 12 Rookie of the Week for the second-consecutive week on September 21, 2009. Ampudia is the first Tiger ever to take home back-to-back Big 12 weekly honors. She became the first-ever Tiger to take home four Big 12 weekly laurels after being named Player of the Week two weeks ago.

A Full-Team Effort
In Mizzou's win over UMKC, every student-athlete on the Tigers' 14-player roster saw action. That was the first time this season that that has happened as two Tigers - Marissa Ferri and Lindsey Petrick - saw their first action in a regular season match this year. Ferri posted her first career dig in the third frame while Petrick entered late in the set and earned her first career solo block and registered three total attacks.

Dig `em Pip!
Sophomore Priscilla Armendariz was a silver lining in the Tigers' loss at Kansas State earlier this season. Armendariz pulled in 24 digs - a season-best and the Tigers' second-best individual performance - in the loss. the 24 total digs are also a personal-best for Armendariz who currently ranks second on the team with 194 digs.

Big Night for Brit
Brittney Brimmage tallied 13 kills with only one error on 20 swings in the Tigers' four-set loss to No. 17 Utah. That stat line gave Brimmage a .600 hitting percentage in the match. The .600 clip is a career-best for Brimmage as she becomes one of only 27 athletes in school history to post a .600 hitting percentage with more than 10 kills.

The 700-Club
Team Kreklow (Wayne and Susan together) earned its 700th career win after topping UMKC last week. The 700 combined wins dates back to their time as the head coaching tandem at Columbia College, where they mentored both the men's and women's programs. The pair has won 197 matches in their 10 seasons at Mizzou.

Mr. 400
With the Tigers' win over Fairfield earlier this season, head coach Wayne Kreklow earned his 400th victory as a head coach. Dating back to his time at Columbia College, where he coached both the men's and women's teams, Kreklow has compiled a 408-110 record as a head coach, including a 354-86 mark coaching women's volleyball. 88 of his 354 wins in women's volleyball have come during his time at Mizzou.

All-Access Video and Radio
Be sure to follow the Tiger volleyball program all season long on www.mutigers.com. The matches will be streamed live on Mizzou All-Access. Also, all Big 12 road matches can be heard live on www.mutigers.com.

Tigers on Television
Mizzou's match at Texas Tech has been chosen for a live broadcast and will air live on Fox 34 in Lubbock, marking what will be the final televised match for Mizzou. Wednesday's match will air on Nebraska Education Television.

Next up
The Tigers will square off against their second top-10 opponent of the week as they host No. 2 Texas on Saturday at the Hearnes Center. The match is slated for a 5 p.m. start, following the Mizzou-Baylor football game.