Nov. 5, 2013
What's Inside - A Quick Look at the Notes
With a national-best 27 wins, No. 7 Mizzou looks to remain atop the SEC standings with an Alabama road trip
The Tigers play Auburn at 7 p.m. Friday and travel to Alabama Sunday for a 1:30 p.m. matchup with the Tide.
Mizzou is ranked seventh in the AVCA Top-25, matching the best ranking in program history.
The Tigers are sixth in the RPI and boast nine wins over RPI top-50 teams and one over a top-five team.
Mizzou's 27 wins this season are the most for a Kreklow-led team at Mizzou and the most since 1981 (28).
Wayne Kreklow won his 500th career match as a collegiate head coach (men and women).
Mizzou is one of just two unbeaten teams in the nation and sits atop the SEC standings at 11-0.
The 11-0 start for Mizzou in SEC play is the program's best ever start to a conference schedule.
The 11 conference wins for Mizzou are its most since 2010 (12) and just five off the school record (16 in 2005).
Now at 27-0, the Tigers are off to the best start in program history, topping the previous best mark of 19-0 in 1982.
Mizzou's sweep of No. 19 Kentucky last weekend was its first sweep of a top-25 opponent since Oct. 29, 2011.
With two wins this weekend, the Tiger senior class would become the winningest four-year class at Mizzou.
Lisa Henning reset the Mizzou career kills record last weekend (1,672) and now needs 44.0 points to reset that mark.
Senior Molly Kreklow became the second Tiger to ever break the 5,000-assist mark in a career last weekend.
Junior Whitney Little became just the second Tiger with three consecutive 100-block seasons last weekend.
The Tiger offense has been incredibly balanced this season with its top eight attackers all hitting .315 or better.
Mizzou's offense has hit better than .300 in 23 of 27 matches this season.
The Tiger defense has been very good as well as only two teams have hit over .300 vs. Mizzou this season.
The Tiger defense has also held 18 of their 27 opponents to under .200 hitting this season.
Mizzou needs just two more wins to guarantee the winningest record in Mizzou history (winning percentage).
The Tigers are averaging just 3.44 attack errors per set, the top mark among teams from power conferences.
Mizzou leads the nation in hitting (.364), assists (14.56) and is second in kills (15.34).
Mizzou is the only team in the nation to rank in the top five in all three offensive categories.
The Tigers also rank ninth nationally in service aces (1.74) and 29th in blocks (2.70).
Molly Kreklow is second nationally in assists per set (12.66) and Whitney Little is second in hitting (.497).
Henning has 1,672 career kills, the top active mark in the SEC and fourth nationally among active players.
Kreklow has guided the Tigers to their second-best three-year hitting percentage in school history (.263).
Kreklow's 5,000 career assists are the third-most among active NCAA players and the top mark in the SEC.
Still Undefeated, No. 7 Mizzou Faces Tough Road Tests in Alabama
With less than a month of the regular season remaining, the No. 7 Mizzou volleyball team will take its unblemished and national-best 27-0 record on the road to Auburn and Alabama this weekend. Mizzou (27-0, 11-0 SEC) will take on Auburn (15-8, 6-5 SEC) at 7 p.m. Friday before traveling to Tuscaloosa for a 1:30 p.m. match with the Tide (18-6, 6-4 SEC) on Sunday.
Tigers Boast Highest Rank in Program History
With a national-best 27-0 record and as one of just two unbeaten teams nationally, the Mizzou volleyball program remained No. 7 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Top-25 poll on Monday. The No. 7 rank for the Tigers matches the best in program history - the 2005 team spent three weeks ranked at No. 7. Mizzou is one of three SEC teams ranked this week, joining No. 5 Florida and No. 20 Kentucky.
For senior All-American Lisa Henning, last Friday night against Ole Miss was a memorable day as she became Mizzou's all-time career kills leader. She passed Shen Danru, who had 1,658 from 2002-05, and now has 1,672 in her storied career. She is the SEC's active kills leader and is fourth in the nation among active players.
Molly Kreklow Makes History as Well
Not to be outdone by her classmate, senior setter Molly Kreklow also rewrote the record books last weekend, becoming just the second Tiger in program history to amass 5,000 career assists. Heading into the weekend, she sits at exactly 5,000 as she joins former All-American and Mizzou Athlete of the Decade Lindsey Hunter as the only two to surpass 5,000 career assists. Hunter, now an assistant coach with the Tigers, had 6,097 from 2002-05. Although the record is likely out of reach, keep in mind that Kreklow played in 25-point sets while Hunter played in 30-point sets. If Kreklow would have played in 30-point sets, she would be on pace to break Hunter's record.
Little Blocks Her Way into Record Books
Junior All-SEC Whitney Little also achieved something notable last weekend as she tallied her 100th block of the season, becoming just the second Tiger in program history to post three consecutive 100-block seasons and the first to do so in her first three years at Mizzou. The only other Tiger to accomplish that feat was former All-American Christi Myers, who did so in her final three years at Mizzou from 2000-02.
Little Close to Another Record
Little's block numbers speak for themselves, but the All-SEC junior is close to another record and this one is downright offensive. She is second nationally with her .497 attack clip, but in order for that mark to count on the single-season Mizzou record list, a minimum of 400 attempts is required. Heading into the weekend, Little has 376 attempts this season as she needs just 24 to qualify. Once she does qualify her mark would rank ahead of the current single season record of .415, set by Nicole Wilson in 2005.
Wayne Kreklow Wins No. 500
Mizzou head coach Wayne Kreklow won his 500th match as a head coach last Sunday against No. 19 Kentucky, dating back to his time as head coach of both the Columbia College men and women. In all, the coaching tandem of Wayne and Susan Kreklow is close winning its 800th match as a duo, as the two have combined for 798 in their careers. A pair of wins this weekend would give them 800.
2013 Tigers Could Be Historic
It has been well documented that the 2013 team is off to the best start in program history, topping the previous best mark of 19-0 in 1982, but as the season moves on, it is time to start looking at some other school records that are in jeopardy. Below is a look:
Mizzou has won the most matches during the Kreklow era (27), topping the previous best of 26 in 2002.
Mizzou needs just two more wins to finish the year with the best winning percentage in school history (.833).
The Tigers have won the most matches at Mizzou since 1981 (28).
Mizzou Off to Best Conference Start in Program History
Mizzou's win over No. 19 Kentucky last Sunday improved the seventh-ranked Tigers to 11-0 in SEC play as they sit alone atop the SEC standings as the league's only unbeaten in SEC play. Even more importantly, the Tigers are off to their best start to conference play in program history at 11-0. Their previous best was 6-0 in 2005. To put Mizzou's 11-0 league mark into perspective, the Tigers won seven or fewer matches in 17 consecutive seasons from 1983 through 1999. The most conference wins in program history came in 2005 when the team won 16 Big 12 matches.
Tigers Lead Nation in Wins; One of Two Unbeatens Nationally
Heading into the weekend at a perfect 27-0, Mizzou leads the nation in wins this season and are one of just two unbeatens nationally. The Tigers are also the only unbeaten team in the SEC, have lost a national-low seven sets all season and their 81 set wins are a national-best. The other unbeaten team in the nation is Colorado State at 21-0.
The Kreklow Effect
Through the first 11 conference matches, it is hard to argue that any one player has had more of an effect on their team's success than Mizzou's senior setter Molly Kreklow. Kreklow has set the Tigers to a national-best .364 attack clip and has Mizzou ranked second in kills nationally. She has distributed the ball to eight different hitters and has 71 kills herself, while every hitter is hitting .315 or better. She is the key component in Mizzou's up-tempo offense that is one of the most prolific in the country. In fact, she has guided Mizzou to better than .300 hitting in 23 of 27 matches this season. Mizzou hit above .300 in just 18 of 65 matches over the last two years combined before this season.
Time to Look at the NCAA Tournament Résumé
At 27-0 and 11-0 in SEC play, the Tigers check in at seventh in this week's AVCA Top-25 poll, but the more important number for the Tigers is their No. 6 rank in the NCAA RPI rank, which bodes well for the Tigers come NCAA Tournament selection time as they have been added to the AVCA First- and Second-Round Host watch list. Below is a look at the Tigers' résumé so far this season.
The Tigers have eight wins over RPI top-50 teams and one over an RPI top-five team.
In all, the Tigers have 11 wins over RPI top 70-teams.
The Tigers have won an NCAA-best 81 sets this season and lost an NCAA-low seven sets.
Mizzou has defeated nine teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season.
Tigers Lead the Nation in Points Per Set
It has been well documented that Mizzou owns one of the nation's top offenses, but the most telling stat to back up that claim may be that the Tigers have scored 19.76 points per set this season, a national-best. A lot of that is due to the fact that Mizzou has lost an NCAA-low seven sets, but the fact that Mizzou is scoring nearly 20 of 25 points per set this season is impressive. Basically, if the opposition makes five errors (service, attack, ball handling, etc.), Mizzou has a pretty good shot of winning that set. Florida is the next-best team nationally, averaging 18.92 points per set, as Mizzou owns a wide margin in that category.
Is The Flyin' Hawaiian Top Freshman in the SEC?
There are several freshman in the SEC that are making huge impacts this season - Alabama's Krystal Rivers, Florida's Alex Holston and LSU's Briana Holman come to mind - but Mizzou's Carly Kan may have made the largest impact. Of all of those players named, Kan is the only six-rotation player and the only one that is a primary passer. She is also sixth in the conference in hitting and ranks in the top-11 in kills and fifth in aces and 11th in points. Her complete court game is what makes her stand out as she is averaging 3.16 kills per set, 2.59 digs per set and has been targeted with 554 serves, a team-high, and she has converted 96-percent of those chances. Not only is she the Tigers' No. 2 swing, but she has shored up the Tiger passing, defense and ball control this season.
Tigers Lead Power Conferences With Fewest Attack Errors Per Set
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou is averaging just 3.44 attack errors per set, the lowest among any team in a power conference this season. That's just one error every 9.50 attempts. Below is a look at the rankings.
Mizzou - 3.43
Stanford - 3.50
Penn State - 3.79
Offense Fires on All Cylinders
Through the first 27 matches of the season, it is pretty clear that the Tiger offense has been playing at a very high level. In fact, when the NCAA national statistics were posted early this week, the Tigers rank among the national elite in nearly every statistical category. Below are a few talking points on the Tiger offense.
Mizzou is the only team nationally to rank in the top five in every offensive category
Mizzou leads the nation in hitting (.364) and assists (14.56) and is second in kills (15.34)
Molly Kreklow is second nationally in assists (12.66) and Whitney Little is second in hitting (.497)
Mizzou has hit better than .300 in 23 of 27 matches this season and has hit .380 or better 14 times
Mizzou is first in the SEC in service aces per set (1.73) and ranks ninth nationally
Mizzou's top eight attackers are all hitting .315 or better this season.
Defense Not Too Bad Either
Much has been written about the Tigers' high-flying offense, but a part of the Tigers' game that has been overlooked is the defense. In fact, Mizzou has limited 18 of 27 opponents under .200 hitting this season and only two teams have hit above .300 in a match. Mizzou limited Florida to .237 hitting on Oct. 13, the first SEC team to hold the Gators to under .300 hitting in a match since Nov. 23 last season against Georgia.
Wins Away From Home
The Tigers have won 11 matches away from the Hearnes Center this season, matching their most wins away from home in a regular season since 2010. Seven of the Tigers' 11 wins away from home have come in true road contests as well, five of which came against teams that went to the NCAA Tournament a year ago. Mizzou had just five true road wins all of last season.
Auburn comes into the weekend at 15-8 overall and 6-5 in the SEC. After losing six in a row in late September and early October, Auburn has been one of the SEC's hottest teams, winning six of its last seven contests with its only loss coming at No. 5 Florida. The Tigers have swept their last three matches. Katherine Culwell does most of the damage for Auburn as she averages 3.16 kills per set. Preseason All-SEC pick Camilia Jersonsky pitches in 2.70 on .347 hitting. In the first meeting between Mizzou and Auburn this season, Mizzou earned a 3-0 sweep on Oct. 4 as it hit .351 while getting at least four kills from six different players, led by 10 from both Lisa Henning and Emily Wilson. Culwell led Auburn with 16 kills on .344 hitting.
Alabama comes into the weekend at 19-6 overall and 6-4 in SEC play and boasts one of the league's top offenses, quarterbacked by setter Sierra Wilson, who is second in the SEC in assists per set. Her top option is a good one in redshirt freshman Krystal Rivers, who is hitting .448 with 327 kills as she joins Mizzou's Carly Kan as one of the front-runners for SEC Freshman of the Year. Brittany Thomas averages 3.36 kills per set and Laura Steiner contributes 3.14. Just like Auburn, the Tide have been hot, winning four of their last five with the only loss coming at No. 15 Kentucky. Mizzou won the first meeting with Alabama, 3-1, in a very competitive match on Oct. 13. Kan was unstoppable in that match, posting 19 kills on .471 hitting. Rivers was very good for Alabama as well with 15 kills on .357 hitting in the loss,
Kreklow Continues to `Set' The Table
Although Molly Kreklow's 12.66 assists per set are second in the nation, that total would rank just seventh in school history in a single season. However, keep in mind that Kreklow is playing in 25-point sets while her predecessors all played in 30-point sets. If you average out her current assists per set clip to 30-point sets, she would be averaging 15.19 per set, ahead of the school record (Lindsey Hunter, 14.43 in 2004).
Little With National-Low 24 Attack Errors
So far this season, junior middle blocker Whitney Little has just 24 attack errors, the fewest of any player in the nation who averages at least 3.33 attacks per set this season. In fact, Little is averaging just one error every 15.67 attacks this year.
Little Rewriting Record Books
After resetting the Mizzou single season blocks record in both her freshman and sophomore seasons, Whitney Little enters the weekend ranked first all-time at Mizzou with a 1.17 career blocks per set average. The next two career marks on the list are 1.07 by Nicole Wilson and 1.06 by Christi Myers, both of whom were All-Americans at Mizzou. Aside from her blocking, Little boasts a .373 career attack percentage, also the best in school history. Much of that is due to her torrid .497 clip this season, second-best in the nation.
When the Southeastern Conference announced its Preseason All-SEC Team, a pair of Tigers were included on the list in seniors Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) and Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.). The selections mark the second consecutive season that both Henning and Kreklow were honored in the preseason by the SEC, and Mizzou joined league-favorite Florida as one of the only two teams in the SEC to place at least two players on the nine-member team. Henning and Kreklow began their Mizzou careers in the 2010 season as the cornerstones of what was the nation's No. 14 recruiting class that year according to PrepVolleyball.com. They have accounted for 89 wins, four NCAA Tournament matches and an NCAA Sweet 16. They have combined for seven major All-Conference Teams selections, a pair of All-America honors, three AVCA All-Region honors, 12 weekly conference honors and two AVCA National Player of the Week awards.
Tigers Picked to Finish Third in SEC East
The Mizzou volleyball program was picked to finish third in the SEC East as the Southeastern Conference announced its annual preseason poll on Aug. 8. In their second year in the conference, it is the highest that the Tigers have been picked in the annual tally, which is voted on by the league's coaches.
Seniors Rank Among All-Time Winningest Classes
With 89 wins through their first three-plus seasons, the Mizzou senior class (Kreklow, Henning) has a chance to become the winningest class in program history (post-expanded NCAA Tournament era). They need two wins this weekend.
Winningest Four-Year Stretches (current NCAA Tournament format)
2002-05 - 90 wins
2002-04 - 89 wins
Mizzou Senior Class - 89 wins
Crowds Among Best in School History
So far this season, Mizzou has seen very large crowds at the Hearnes Center as it has returned to being one of the premier venues in college volleyball. The Tigers have averaged 2,767 fans per match this season, 12th nationally, while the 42,820 fans to watch Mizzou at home are the third-most nationally this season. Mizzou's crowd vs. Florida was the fifth-largest on program history at 4,202 and Mizzou had 3,925 last Sunday vs. No. 19 Kentucky. In fact, in 10 of the Kreklow's 14 seasons, Mizzou has drawn more than 20,000 fans per year, including nine of the last 10 and five straight (including 2013).
Henning is SEC's Active Kills Leader
Obviously, Mizzou returns quite a bit of fire power to the roster in 2013, but there is no bigger weapon for Mizzou than two-time AVCA Third Team All-American Lisa Henning. Last season, Henning led the SEC in kills per set (4.64) and points per set (5.28), just one year removed from accomplishing the same feat in Big 12 play in 2011. She is the SEC's active kills leader with 1,672 in her career and sits just 145 kills shy of fourth in SEC history during the rally scoring era. She is the first ever Tiger to post back-to-back 500-kill seasons as well.
Kreklow Anchors Offense
Since 2010, there has been one constant in the Tiger starting lineup and that has been senior Molly Kreklow. She has started every match in her career, played in every set (125 matches, 443 sets) and is second all-time at Mizzou with 5,000 career assists. She has also guided Mizzou to its second-best three-year hitting percentage in program history at .263, trailing only the team from 2003-05 (.271), which was anchored by All-American setter and current assistant coach Lindsey Hunter.
Some Notables This Season
Mizzou has already accomplished a lot in just 27 matches. Below is a quick look at some major achievements.
Molly Kreklow was named SEC Player of the Week on Sept. 9, the first of her decorated career
Little Looks To Rewrite The Record Books, Again
Mizzou hit .458 in a win over Pitt, a school record for hitting a four-set match and best since 2007
The Tigers hit a school-record .606 against SEMO, topping the previous mark of .585, set in 2000
Hit .559 vs. South Carolina, the best ever by a Tiger team against a conference opponent
Mizzou swept a school-record 10 consecutive matches from Sept. 7 through Sept. 27.
Lisa Henning and Carly Kan became the first Tiger teammates to hit over .700 in the same match vs. SC.
Lisa Henning was SEC Player of the Week on Oct. 7, the second of her career
Carly Kan was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Oct. 14, the first of her career.
Molly Kreklow was named SEC Player of the Week and AVCA National Player of the Week on Oct. 21.
Mizzou was the fourth team to hit above .300 vs. Florida this season, joining Penn State, Stanford and WMU.
Mizzou earned its first win over a top-five team by knocking off No. 2 Florida on Oct. 13
Carly Kan became the first Tiger since Oct. 8, 2007, to take home a conference player of the week.
Mizzou earned its first sweep of a top-20 team since Oct. 29, 2011, when topping UK on Nov. 3.
Junior Whitney Little
reset the Mizzou single season blocks record as a freshman with 138 in 2011 and then topped that mark with 139 as a sophomore last season. In 2013, Little, who is the SEC's leading blocker from a season ago, will look to again post another school record total. She earned Second Team All-SEC honors a season ago and was blocking at an All-American pace early in the season. In fact, over a nine-match span she tallied a Mizzou career record five 10-block matches. She also posted a pair of block-kill double-doubles, which hadn't been done at Mizzou since 2007, and reset the school record with five solo blocks at Florida. In SEC play, Little averaged 1.40 blocks per set last year.
Tigers With Three of the SEC's Top 20 Active Kill Leaders
As noted earlier, senior Lisa Henning is the SEC's active kill leader with 1,672, but a pair of other Tigers - Emily Wilson and Whitney Little - also rank among the league's top 20 active kill leaders. The three players in the top-20 ties Mizzou for the most of any SEC school in the top 20, while the three players account for a league-best 3,005 career kills. What is even more remarkable is that the trio has accumulated those kills on a combined .281 hitting with two players (Henning and Wilson) playing on the outside. Below is a look at the ranks:
SEC Rank Player Kills
Freshman Class Garners National Praise
1. Henning 1,672
11. Wilson 695
14. Little 638
PrepVolleyball.com tabbed Mizzou's 2013 freshman class as the No. 18 recruiting class nationally. The No. 18 ranking places the Tigers third in the SEC, trailing only Arkansas (16) and Tennessee (17). The No. 18 national ranking is the highest for Mizzou since the 2010 freshman class ranked 14th nationally. This year's class is comprised of six individuals, the second-largest class in program history: Carly Kan
, 5-9 DS/OH, Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii); Loxley Keala
, 5-11 S, Iolani (Honolulu, Hawaii); Courtney Meek
, 5-5 DS, St. Joseph's (St. Louis, Missouri); Linda Steinhardt
, 5-5 DS, Cedar Park (Texas); Emily Thater
, 6-3 MB, Kickapoo (Springfield , Missouri) and Julia Towler
, 6-2 MB/OH, Blue Springs South (Blue Springs, Missouri).
High School All-Americans
Both Carly Kan and Loxley Keala earned big-time accolades coming out of high school this year. Kan was named to the Volleyball Magazine High School All-America First Team and the PrepVolleyball.com High School All-America First Team. The first team for both publications featured the top 13 high school seniors in the country. Keala was also an Honorable Mention High School All-American according to PrepVolleyball.com.
Kan a Defensive Dandy
On May 31, PrepVolleyball.com released its Defensive Dandies List - which attempts to recognize the top defensive players at the high school level - and Mizzou freshman Carly Kan was recognized as a first team Defensive Dandy. She was one of just 12 players nationally selected to the first team.
As Mizzou volleyball takes the court this season, there will be something that a lot of Tiger fans have not seen too as two Hawaii natives will don the Black & Gold as both Carly Kan and Loxley Keala call the Rainbow State their home. The freshman duo calls Honolulu home and played on rival high schools growing up. As a hot bed for volleyball talent, both Kan and Keala bring extensive beach play to Mizzou and great all-around games. They are the first Hawaii natives to play for Mizzou volleyball. The two were beach partners their senior year.
Kreklows Are Second-Longest Tenured Women's Coaches at Mizzou
Now entering their 14th overall season at Mizzou, Wayne and Susan Kreklow are the second-longest tenured women's coaches at Mizzou and the fourth-longest overall. Only Mizzou soccer's Bryan Blitz has had a longer current tenure as a women's coach at Mizzou and only baseball coach Tim Jamieson, Blitz and wrestling coach Brian Smith have been at Mizzou longer among current Mizzou head coaches. The Kreklows have overseen the longest run by any coach in Mizzou volleyball history.
Weekly Conference Honors Trend
Since the start of the 2009 season, a trend has started for the Mizzou volleyball program. In the last four-plus seasons, Mizzou has claimed 35 conference weekly honors, including nine SEC tallies. What makes that mark even more impressive is the fact that from 1990-2008, Mizzou had just 17 weekly conference honorees.
Tigers On TV
Mizzou will appear on national television through the SEC TV package twice during the 2013 season. Mizzou's match at Arkansas on Oct. 2 aired live on ESPNU at 6 p.m. while its contest at Tennessee aired live on Fox Sports Midwest, Fox Sports South and Fox Sports Southwest on Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m.
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. Ben Wilson will enter his first year behind the microphone in 2013 and will be joined by former Tiger Katie O'Brien. Links to each broadcast can be found on MUTigers.com and MizzouNetwork.com.
The Tigers will have a huge match next weekend on the road at Florida before playing at South Carolina Sunday. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouVB.