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Mizzou Hosts Florida, LSU in Crucial SEC Weekend

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<i>Libero Sarah Meister has been perfect in serve reception in four straight matches (99 attempts).</i>

MUTIGERS.COM
Libero Sarah Meister has been perfect in serve reception in four straight matches (99 attempts).
MUTIGERS.COM

Nov. 7, 2012

Mizzou Volleyball (17-8, 8-6 SEC) vs. #16 Florida (19-4, 13-1 SEC), LSU (11-13, 7-8 SEC)
Date: Nov. 9, 11
Time: 6:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m.
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Live Stream: MizzouNetwork.com
Twitter Updates: @MU_Volleyball
Notes: Notes - vs. Florida, LSU Get Acrobat Reader

What's Inside - A Quick Look at the Notes
• Riding two straight sweeps, Mizzou hosts SEC frontrunner Florida on Friday and LSU on Sunday.
• With just six matches left and an RPI of 52, this weekend is critical for the Tigers' NCAA Tournament hopes.
• Mizzou lost to Florida, 3-0, in Gainesville earlier this season and defeated LSU in Baton Rouge, 3-1.
• Home is a good place for the Tigers to be as they are 9-2 at Hearnes this season and just 8-6 away from home.
Lisa Henning needs 15.5 kills per match over the last six to become the first Tiger with back-to-back 500-kill seasons
Whitney Little has not committed an attack error in two straight matches, with 23 kills on .561 in that span.
Sarah Meister has just two reception errors in her last 158 attempts and is perfect in her last four matches (99 attempts)
Molly Kreklow posted her SEC-leading 16th double-double on Tuesday against Arkansas State.
• Over her last two matches, Kreklow is averaging 13.67 assists per set and 4.17 digs per set.
• Mizzou has the fifth-fewest attack errors (348) in the country and the third-fewest attack errors per set (3.95)
• Mizzou is hitting .314 over its last two matches and ranks second in the SEC at .264 this season.
Lisa Henning cracked the Mizzou top-10 in career points as she now has 1,350 career points, which is ninth.
• The Tigers continue to lead the SEC in blocking at 2.76 per set in all matches and 2.96 in SEC matches.
• As a team, Mizzou ranks 20th nationally in hitting (.264) and 23rd nationally in blocks per set (2.76).
• The duo of Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning has 26 combined double-doubles, which is second in the SEC.
Lisa Henning cracked the Mizzou all-time top 10 on the career kills list as she is now seventh with 1,196 kills.
• She is the second-fastest Tiger to ever reach 1,000 kills, trailing only school-record holder Shen Danru.
• Henning is No. 4 on the active kill leaders list in the SEC w/ 1,196. She is the top junior on the list.
• Henning is just one kills back of Auburn senior Sarah Bullock for third on the active list.
• Henning also leads the SEC in kills per set and points per set in league matches and all matches this season.
• Henning, an All-American last year, ranks seventh nationally in points per set (5.27) and eighth in kills (4.62).
• Henning owns four of the SEC's top point performances in league matches this season.
Whitney Little is 14th nationally in blocks per set (1.44) and seventh in solo blocks (23).
• Little leads the SEC in blocks per set (1.47) in all matches and in SEC matches (1.67).

Mizzou Hosts Florida, LSU in Crucial SEC Weekend
Riding a two-match win streak, the Mizzou volleyball team is set for a huge weekend as SEC frontrunner Florida and SEC West powerhouse LSU pay visit to the Hearnes Center. Mizzou and Florida will play at 6:30 p.m. Friday (Nov. 9) on the Tigers' Pack the House Night before hosting LSU at 1:30 p.m. Friday. At 52 in this week's NCAA RPI rankings, both matches this weekend hold huge NCAA Tournament implications for the Tigers.

Last Time vs. Florida
Mizzou was swept by the Gators in Gainesville on Sept. 21 in a match that was much closer than the 3-0 score. In fact, Mizzou could have won each of the first two sets (25-22, 26-24) if not for several untimely errors. Sophomore Whitney Little was outstanding in the match with 10 kills on .364 hitting with 10 blocks (five solo, five assists). She reset the Mizzou rally scoring record with five solo blocks in that match.

Last Time vs. LSU
Mizzou earned a hard-fought four-set win, 3-1 (25-20, 25-23, 21-25, 25-22), on Sept. 23 in Baton Rouge. Whitney Little again was sensational in that match with 15 kills on 34 errorless attacks with seven blocks (four solo, three assists). Lisa Henning added 12 kills while libero Sarah Meister added a career-best 27 digs. Mizzou was out-killed and out-dug in the match but committed just 15 attack errors in four sets.

Last Time Out
The Mizzou volleyball team earned its second straight sweep after defeating Arkansas State, 3-0 (25-15, 25-21, 25-17), on Tuesday night (Nov. 6) at the Hearnes Center. The win improves the Tigers to 17-8 on the season and 2-0 in the month of November as they make their push towards NCAA Tournament play. Plenty of Tigers turned in stellar performances, but libero Sarah Meister filled up the stat sheet with a match-high 16 digs, five assists and three aces, all while converting all 24 of her serve receptions. Seven of her 16 digs came in the third set. Lisa Henning finished with a match-high 14 kills while Whitney Little added 11 more on 23 errorless attacks. Molly Kreklow finished with her 16th double-double, tallying 35 assists and 12 digs.

Henning On Pace for Another 500-Kill Season
Junior outside hitter Lisa Henning is on pace to do something that no Tiger has ever done as she sits just 93 kills shy of the 500-kill mark this season. Coupled with her 532 kills last season, Henning could become the first-ever Tiger to post back-to-back 500-kill seasons. She needs to average 15.50 kills per match over her last six matches to get to 500 kills. She is averaging an SEC-best 16.28 kills per match this season, making it a very legitimate possibility this season.

`Little' Amount of Errors; Big-Time Production
Sophomore middle hitter Whitney Little has been on fire over the last two Tiger matches, posting 23 kills on 41 errorless attacks, good for a .561 attack percentage in that span. Little had 12 kills on just 18 attacks in the Tigers' win over South Carolina and came back to post 11 kills on 23 errorless attacks against Arkansas State on Tuesday. In her previous three matches before the current stretch that she is on, Little had 23 kills and 10 errors on 64 attacks, good for just .203 hitting. It is not a coincidence that Mizzou is 2-0 in its last two matches and just 1-2 in the previous three matches in which Little struggled.

Little Just 14 Blocks From Her Own School Record
With 124 blocks this season, sophomore Whitney Little sits just 14 blocks shy of matching her own single season school record for blocks in a season (138) and 15 shy of breaking that mark. The 138 set last season ties her with All-American Christi Myers for the single season school record. She needs just 2.3 blocks per match to break that mark.

Meister Playing Well in Back Row
Over the last six matches, it is hard to argue that sophomore libero Sarah Meister has been one of the Tigers' best players. While her contributions don't always show up in the box score, she has made a huge impact in stabilizing the Tigers' ball control. In fact, in her last four matches, Meister has converted all 99 of her service receptions (28 at Georgia, 21 at Arkansas, 26 vs. South Carolina and 24 against Arkansas State) and has just two reception errors in her last six matches (158 attempts). In fact, Meister now boasts a .965 reception percentage this season and is at .987 over her last six matches despite averaging 26.33 attempts per match.

Kreklow-Henning are a Double-Double Double-Duo
So far this season, Mizzou as a team has posted 30 double-doubles as a team, but the junior duo of Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning has accounted for 26 of those 30. In fact, Kreklow leads the SEC with 16 double-doubles while Henning has nine of her 10 double-doubles in SEC play, ranking her fourth in the SEC in league matches. Kreklow has posted double-doubles in eight of the last nine matches while Henning has done so in seven of nine. The 26 combined double-doubles ranks second among all SEC duos this season (UT's Robinson-Pollmiller, 29; Arkansas' Santos-Norton, 26).

Kreklow On Fire Over Last Two
Junior setter Molly Kreklow has been on a tear over her last two matches as she has done just about everything for the Tigers. In fact, she is averaging 13.67 assists per set and 4.17 digs per set while guiding the team to a .314 attack percentage over the last two matches. The recent surge for Kreklow comes after struggles in ball control led to just an 8.54 assist per set average for Kreklow in the previous three matches while she guided the team to just .189 hitting in that span. But with better ball control over the last two matches, Kreklow has shined and helped the Tigers to two of their best matches of the season.

Out-Digging Opponents is Key
Although the play of back-row players doesn't always steal the headlines, the back-row defense has been a key for the Tigers so far this season. In fact, Mizzou is 14-0 when totaling more digs than its opponents while it is just 3-8 when giving up more digs.

Tigers In the National Rankings
As Mizzou enters the final month of play, several Tigers rank among the national elite in certain categories. First, as a team, Mizzou ranks 20th nationally in hitting (.264) and 23rd in blocking (2.76 per set). Also, sophomore Whitney Little and junior Lisa Henning also rank among the national elite. Below is a look.

Cutting Down the Errors
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou ranks second in the SEC in hitting at .264 and a key reason for that mark is the Tigers' ability to cut down on attack errors. In fact, Mizzou has the fifth-fewest attack errors in the country so far this season and is averaging just 3.95 errors per set. In fact, only BYU and Texas have fewer attack errors per set than the Tigers this season. Below is a look at the standings.
    • Texas - 296 errors - 23 matches - 3.79 per set
    • BYU - 324 errors - 25 matches - 3.72 per set
    • Washington - 340 errors - 23 matches - 4.14 per set
    • Florida - 340 errors - 23 matches - 4.19 per set
    • Mizzou - 348 errors - 25 matches - 3.95 per set
    • Nebraska - 363 errors - 23 matches - 4.22 per set
Henning Joins Elite Company
Junior All-American Lisa Henning has been rewriting the Mizzou record books since her freshman season and she just joined elite company earlier this season as she cracked the all-time Mizzou top 10 in career kills with 1,196 in her two-plus seasons at Mizzou as she now ranks seventh all-time. She is on pace to become the first-ever Tiger to post 500 kills in back-to-back seasons as well. Following this season, she should be within striking distance of the all-time record holder, Shen Danru (1,658 kills from 2002-05). She also cracked the Mizzou all-time top 10 in career points last Friday as she is currently ninth with 1,350 in her career. Below are a few notables on Henning.
    • First Tiger underclassman to be named All-American (third-team in 2011) and is Mizzou's sixth All-American
    • Led the Big 12 in kills, kills per set and points per set in league matches last season, the first Tiger to do so
    • Currently leads the SEC in kills per set and points per set in all matches and league matches
    • Is currently fourth in the SEC among active players in career kills and is the top junior on the list
    • Recently broke into the 1,000-kill club, the 11th Tiger to do so.
    • She is the second-fastest Tiger ever to 1,000 career kills (four-year players).
    • Is on pace to shatter that all-time career kills record at Mizzou, currently held by Shen Danru
    • Set a Mizzou record with 523 kills in 2011 and is on pace to break 500 again this season
    • Preseason All-SEC Team member
    • Three-time Big12/SEC Player of the Week in her career
Little Playing Big
Another developing trend for the Tigers this season is the play of sophomore middle hitter Whitney Little. Little has five 10-block matches this season, resetting the Mizzou record for 10-block matches in a career. The previous record had been four by former Tiger All-American Christi Myers - keep in mind, Little broke that career mark in a span of just nine matches after posting 11 blocks at Tennessee on Oct. 5. Below are a few notables on Little.
    • Little is 14th nationally in blocks per set (1.44) and leads the SEC overall and in league matches
    • Little is also seventh nationally in solo blocks (23)
    • She had five 10-block matches over nine matches. That reset the school record for career 10-block matches
    • Little has two block-kill doubles this season; the last block-kill double-double for MU was back in `07
    • Little matched the rally scoring school record with five solo blocks at Florida
    • Little sits atop the all-time Mizzou career records in blocks per set (1.23) and is fourth in hitting (.322)
    • Little could reset her own single season blocking record (138). She is on pace for more than 160 blocks
    • Little owns the SEC's top five blocking marks this season and leads the SEC in blocking
Block This Way
Looking at the season stats for the Tigers, the one thing that stands out is the Tigers' blocking numbers. In fact, Mizzou leads the SEC with its 2.76 blocks per set average while its 242.5 total blocks leads the SEC as well. The 2.76 blocks per set clip ranks the Tigers 23rd nationally. The numbers are even better in SEC play as the Tigers are averaging 2.96 blocks per set with a league-leading 154.0 total blocks.

Scouting Florida
Florida leads the SEC at 13-1 overall but is coming off of its first loss of the season, a five-set battle with Tennessee. The Gators leads the SEC in hitting at .303 and are holding opponents to just .173 hitting. Ziva Recek leads the team with 317 kills.

Series Information
The Tigers and Gators have met twice in history and both meetings have come in the last calendar year. Florida won an NCAA Tournament opening round match 3-1 last year and won in Gainesville earlier this year, 3-0.

Scouting LSU
LSU comes into the weekend at 11-13 overall and 7-8 in SEC play but is playing much better volleyball as of late. In fact, LSU has won four of six matches and two straight. The strength for the Tigers is in the back row as they average 17.13 digs per set. Madie Jones leads the team with 328 kills this season.

Series Information
Mizzou trails the all-time series with LSU, 2-1, but won the meeting between the two teams this season, a 3-1 decision in Baton Rouge. LSU won the only other two meetings back in the 1980s.

Tigers Second in SEC, 20th Nationally in Hitting
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou ranks among the national elite in team hitting percentage at .264, ranking it second in the SEC and 20th nationally. If the season ended today, the .264 clip would be the fourth-best attack clip in program history, trailing only the 2005 team (.299), the 2000 team (.289) and the 2002 team (.280).

Kreklow Improves Hitting
Heading into the season, junior setter Molly Kreklow was more known for her ability to run an offense, but it has been her offensive production that has caught the eye of many this season. In addition to guiding the team to a .264 attack percentage, Kreklow also proved to be a formidable attacker, posting 94 kills on 197 attacks with just 21 errors, good for a .371 clip. Kreklow entered the season as a .179 career attacker, so her .371 clip is a vast improvement.

Home Sweet Home
A return to the friendly confines of the Hearnes Center may be just what the doctor ordered after Mizzou went 3-4 in October, playing six of those seven on the road. In fact, Mizzou has been very good at home this season, posting a 9-2 record with its only losses coming to nationally-ranked Michigan and Texas A&M, which is receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 poll. Conversely, Mizzou is just 8-6 away from Hearnes this season. The Tigers play five of their final seven matches at home, including their current four-match homestand. Mizzou has opened the homestand with two wins (vs. South Carolina and Arkansas State).

A Libero Change
Before the match with No. 17 Tennessee on Sept. 12, Mizzou head coach Wayne Kreklow made a lineup change as he moved sophomore Sarah Meister to the starting libero position, replacing Jade Hayes. The move came after Hayes had pulled in double-digit digs in nine of the Tigers' first 10 matches. But Meister has made an immediate impact since throwing on the opposite-colored jersey, averaging 4.51 digs per set, fourth-best in the SEC. Before the change, Meister was averaging just 1.85 digs per set and a .941 serve receive mark. She has posted at least 20 digs in six of her 15 matches as libero, including a career-best 27 at LSU and 23 in her first-ever start at libero against No. 17 Tennessee. In matches at Tennessee and Alabama in early October, Meister pulled in 48 digs (24 at both Tennessee and Alabama) and committed just two reception errors on 60 chances, good for a team-best 9.67 reception percentage. At Ole Miss and Auburn, she had 43 digs (4.22 per set) and boasted a .966 serve receive percentage on a team-high 59 chances

Historic First Two Seasons for Kreklow
Junior setter Molly Kreklow has accomplished a lot in her short career at Mizzou and the numbers show it. In fact, Kreklow has quarterbacked the Tigers to a 43-24 record (.657) over the past two seasons and a pair of NCAA Tournament wins (2-2 overall record, including a Sweet 16 appearance). The 43 wins for the Tigers over the last two seasons are the most for a Tiger setter since All-American and current assistant coach Lindsey Hunter won 45 matches from 2002-03. Kreklow already has more NCAA Tournament wins than Hunter did through her first two seasons. Also, Kreklow set the Tigers to a .232 attack percentage in her first two seasons, the Tigers' best two-year attack percentage since 2004-05, when Hunter led the team to a .292 clip over those two seasons. Kreklow now has 60 wins in her two-plus seasons.

Ms. 3,000
The Tigers have certainly had their fair share of great setters under the direction of Wayne and Susan Kreklow, but Molly Kreklow may be the best. At Morehead State, Kreklow passed the 3,000-assist mark in her career, making her just the fifth Tiger to do so. It is worth noting that if Kreklow played in 30-point sets like her predecessors, she would be on pace to break Lindsey Hunter's school record for career assists (6,097) by 471. She has assisted on nearly 83-percent of the Tigers' kills since joining the team for the 2010 season.

A Look at Kreklow Historically
Through her two-plus seasons at Mizzou, Molly Kreklow has guided the team to a .241 attack percentage and 13.38 kills per set. If you average out the rest of the year at the current pace the Tigers are attacking at right now, Kreklow will have guided Mizzou to a .245 attack percentage in her three seasons. That is the second-best mark for any three-year Tiger setter in program history, trailing only Lindsey Hunter, who guided Mizzou to a .263 attack clip in her first three seasons at Mizzou (2002-04). She has assisted on nearly 83-percent of the Tigers' kills in her two-plus seasons.

Henning Top Junior in SEC
Looking deeper into Lisa Henning's numbers so far, her 1,196 career kills are fourth among active SEC players and tops among SEC juniors. The three players ranked ahead of Henning on the list are all seniors as Arkansas' Jasmine Norton leads all active SEC players in kills. Henning is just one kill back of auburn senior Sarah Bullock for third. Remember, Henning was the first ever Tiger to leads the Big 12 in kills per set and points per set a season ago and broke the school record with 523 kills and could become the first ever Tiger to post back-to-back 500-kill seasons as she is on pace to this year.

More on the Tiger Junior Class
With 43 wins through their first two seasons, the Mizzou junior class (Kreklow, Henning) has the chance to become the winningest class in program history with almost two full seasons remaining. If you discount the years from 1974-1981 when a volleyball season featured close to 60 matches (as opposed to today's schedule which features closer to 35 matches per season), the Tiger junior class has a chance to become the winningest four-year class during the modern scheduling era in program history. With two straight wins, the class now has 60 wins in two-plus seasons. Below is a look at the winningest four-year stretches in program history (modern scheduling era).

    Winningest Four-Year Stretches
    • 2002-05 - 90 wins
    • 2002-04 - 89 wins
    • 1982-85 - 84 wins
    • Mizzou Junior Class - 60 wins

Tigers Picked Fourth in SEC East
The Tigers, in the their first SEC Preseason Poll, were picked to finish fourth in the Eastern Division by the league's coaches. The loaded SEC East features league favorite Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida, all of which rank ahead of Mizzou. The Gators narrowly edged the Tigers in the poll for third place. The Tigers received 37 votes in the poll while Tennessee (12), UK (30) and Florida (35) edged the Tigers.

Kreklow, Henning Land on All-SEC Preseason Team
The Mizzou volleyball program may be new to the Southeastern Conference, but it has already earned the respect of its peers as the Tigers placed two student-athletes on the Preseason All-SEC Team, which was released on Aug. 7. Juniors Lisa Henning and Molly Kreklow were named to the nine-person All-SEC Preseason Team. Mizzou joined Kentucky and league-favorite Tennessee as the only teams to place two players on the All-SEC Preseason Team. Henning is fifth among active SEC players with 789 kills in her career.

Kreklows Participate in USA Volleyball A-2 Program Over the Summer
Junior Molly Kreklow and Mizzou head coach Wayne Kreklow spent 10 days during the summer in Columbus, Ohio, for the USA Volleyball A-2 Program - Molly as a player and Wayne as a coach, albeit of different teams. Wayne coached the Blue Team to a perfect 3-0 record in pool play, but his team lost a semifinal matchup, dropping it to the third-place match, which it won, 3-2 (25-20, 22-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-11) over Molly's Red Team.

Little, O'Brien Play Together in Italy, Croatia
Sophomores Whitney Little and Katie O'Brien played with the USA Development/Bring-It Promotions tour in Italy and Croatia this summer. The Tiger duo played with some of the nation's most talented underclassmen over the week-long tour and their team played in the European Global Challenge. It marks the third straight season that Mizzou has had a student-athlete play in the program. Former Tiger Julianna Klein played in Brazil prior to the 2010 season while current Tiger junior Lisa Henning played in China prior to the 2011 season.

An Experienced Youthful Group
It is a well known fact that Mizzou was the youngest team (% of underclassmen) to qualify for the NCAA Tournament last season, but heading into 2012, the Tigers boast a roster that is comprised of 10 underclassmen and two juniors, making them the youngest team in the SEC. In fact, Mizzou's roster is 83-percent underclassmen and it is the only SEC roster that does not have a senior. Mississippi State is the next-youngest team in the league as it is comprised of 76.9-percent underclassmen. What is impressive about the Tigers' youth is that they are a very experienced group as well as seven of the 10 underclassmen are sophomores and helped guide Mizzou to the NCAA Tournament as freshmen last year.

Tigers On Television
The Mizzou volleyball program will be televised nationally four times, including a program-high three times on ESPNU this season. In all, the Tigers have six scheduled televised matches that will be seen throughout the state of Missouri this season. Below are the television dates for the Tigers.

    • Sept. 12 vs. Tennessee - ESPNU - Win
    • Oct. 14 vs. Mississippi State - ESPNU - Win
    • Oct. 19 at Ole Miss - SportSouth - Loss
    • Oct. 24 - at Georgia - ESPNU - Losss
    • Nov. 2 - vs. South Carolina - MSN - Win
    • Nov. 21 - vs. Kentucky - Metro Sports

Volleyball on the Air
If you can't be at the Tigers' matches this season, you can still catch all of the action at MUTigers.com as all of the matches will be streamed with audio and home matches will have video and audio. Jim Grundy will be in his second year as the team's play-by-play announcer. Brittney Brimmage will provide analysis. Visit MUTigers.tv for broadcasts.

Up Next
Mizzou will hit the road for the final time in the regular season next weekend, heading to Texas A&M Friday and Mississippi State Sunday. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.