Volleyball Opens Crucial Stretch with No. 8 ISU

MUTIGERS.COM <i>Wayne Kreklow earned win No. 200 for Team Kreklow (Wayne and Susan together) at Texas Tech on Wednesday.</i>
Wayne Kreklow earned win No. 200 for Team Kreklow (Wayne and Susan together) at Texas Tech on Wednesday.

Nov. 19, 2009

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Match Info: Mizzou (18-11, 9-8 Big 12) vs. Iowa State (23-4, 15-3 Big 12)
Date: Saturday, Nov. 21
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Admission: Free
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Arena: Hearnes Center
Gametracker: www.MUTigers.com
Streaming Radio: www.MUTigers.com
Series Information: Mizzou leads the all-time series with Iowa State, 34-30, but has lost four of the last six matches. In that span, four of the matches have gone more than three sets and two of those have gone the distance, making this one of Mizzou's most competitive opponents over the past several years. Mizzou shocked Iowa State last season at the Hearnes Center in an unforgettable match, knocking the Cyclones off, 3-2.

What You Need to Know
• Mizzou is now seven matches over .500 for the first time this season. The Tigers are also riding their longest Big 12 winning streak after winning each of its last three and is over .500 in Big 12 play for the first time since Oct. 10.

• Wednesday's win was Wanye and Susan Kreklow's 200th victory during their tenure at Mizzou.

Paola Ampudia has 221 kills in her last 12 matches, dating back to the first time that Mizzou played Colorado. Those 221 kills are 129 more than the next closest Tiger and are tops in the Big 12 in that span as well, five more than UT's Destinee Hooker.

• Mizzou cracked the Big 12's top six after topping Colorado last Saturday. That is important because the last three times that Mizzou finished the season in sixth-place - 2003, 2006 and 2007 - it has made the NCAA Tournament.

This Saturday
After winning its third-straight match on Wednesday, the Mizzou volleyball team returns home to face No. 8 Iowa State in what is shaping up to be a crucial match for the Tigers' NCAA Tournament chances. For the first time this season, Mizzou is riding a three-match winning streak and is seven matches over the .500 mark at 18-11 on the season. The Cyclones enter Saturday's contest at No. 8 in the nation and are in second place in the Big 12. The match marks the beginning of a stretch in which Mizzou plays three teams ranked in the RPI top 42, which will be a crucial stretch for the Tigers as they look to move from an NCAA bubble team to a lock for an at-large bid. The match with Cyclones the will begin at 5 p.m., following the Mizzou-Iowa State football game. Admission will be free to the public and those looking for parking should head to Parking Garage No. 7 on the MU Campus.

Last Time Out
The Tigers earned their third-straight win after sweeping a much-improved Texas Tech team at the United Spirit Arena on Wednesday (Nov. 18). Paola Ampudia led Mizzou with 17 kills in the match while junior Julianna Klein posted nine on .348 hitting. The Red Raiders finished the match with more kills and more digs, but the Tigers forced them into 22 attack errors and aced them eight times to run away with the match. Mizzou also posted nine total blocks and 45 digs while limiting Tech to .193 hitting. Libero Caitlyn Vann led Mizzou with 17 digs in the match, the most among any player on the floor.

Win No. 200
Wednesday's win over Texas Tech marked Mizzou's 200th win since Wayne and Susan Kreklow took over the program in 2000. The win was Wayne Kreklow's 91st win since taking the helm in 2005 while Susan Kreklow won 109 matches from 2000-04. The duo has won nearly a third of Mizzou's 618 volleyball wins.

A Key Win
Wednesday was a big win on a lot of different accounts, the first being that it moved the team to seven matches over .500 for the first time this season at 18-11. The match also put Mizzou at 9-8 during Big 12 play, giving it a record better than .500 in league play for the first time since Oct. 10. It also marks the first time this season that Mizzou has won three-straight Big 12 matches. Not only did the win do all of that for the Tigers, but it also moved them closer to a potential NCAA Tournament bid.

The Home Stretch Begins
Anyone close to the Mizzou volleyball program has been looking at the final three regular season matches as one of the most important stretches of the schedule for the Tigers this season. Each of Mizzou's three opponents to close out the season rank in the RPI top 42 this week and two - Iowa State and Baylor - have ranked in the AVCA/Bison Top 25 nearly all season long. Not only would these three matches mark a trio a quality wins for the Tigers, but Baylor currently sits in fifth-place in the Big 12 while Texas A&M (Mizzou's final opponent) ranks seventh, sandwiching the Tigers who sit at No. 6 in the league at 9-8. If the Tigers win two of these three matches, their NCAA Tournament chances will vastly improve.

Cracking the Top Three
With her 17 digs on Wednesday, libero Caitlyn Vann moved her career total to 1,308, which placed her in third-place all time at Mizzou, passing former Tiger All-American Jessica Vander Kooi. The 17 digs also move her single season total to 432, the sixth-best mark in school history.

Last Time Against ISU
The Tigers were swept at Iowa State despite 10 kills from Julianna Klein. The Tigers pushed ISU to the brink in the first, 25-23, and the third, 27-25.

Climbing the Record Books
Junior middle hitter Catie Wilson hit .600 with six kills on 10 attacks at Texas Tech on Wednesday. That moved her career clip to .271, the ninth-best career mark in program history. Wilson has more than doubled her first two season's worth of production as she has 211 kills, 16 more than her first two seasons combined. Wilson is also hitting .333 on the season, the seventh-best clip in the Big 12. Through her first two seasons at Mizzou, Wilson committed 79 errors, but this season she has only 51 errors on less attacks, which is a large reason why Wilson has been able to climb the record books.

Getting Her Legs Back
Junior outside hitter Julianna Klein seems to be regaining her stamina after missing three matches due to mononucleosis. More evidence of that is that over her last two matches she has totaled 24 kills on .339 hitting. She has hit .300 in back-to-back matches for the third time this season and first time since Oct. 31 when she hit .350 against SIU-Edwardsville. In her last two matches, she has committed only four attack errors and has posted eight total blocks.

The Tiger Back Row Comes Alive
After corralling only 67 digs in back-to-back matches with Nebraska and Texas two weeks ago, the Tiger back row shined last week, pulling in 141 digs in its two matches. Mizzou corralled 66 digs - the fifth-best three-set mark in the Big 12 this season - against Oklahoma and followed that with 75 more at Colorado. Caitlyn Vann was the key for the back row as the Tiger libero pulled in a team-best 34 digs on the week, her most in a two-match span since posting 34 in back-to-back matches with Colorado and Texas Tech. Vann had 15 digs against OU and 19 at Colorado on Saturday.

Mizzou pulled in 45 digs at Texas Tech on Saturday, highlighted by 17 from Vann. The Tigers now have 112 digs in their last three matches while Vann has seemed to return to form with 51 in those three.

A Bizarre Stat Line
Texas Tech played Mizzou much better on Wednesday than it did the first time that the two teams met back in October. In fact, Tech out-killed and out-dig Mizzou, marking the first time this season that Mizzou has been out-performed in each of those categories and won the match.

Success in the Classroom
The Mizzou volleyball team was recognized for its work in the classroom as six members of the team were honored as Academic All-Big 12 selections, announced by the Big 12 Office on Tuesday (Nov. 17). The five first-team honorees are Priscilla Armendariz (Blue Springs, Mo.), Julianna Klein (Keota, Iowa), Annie Lopez (St. Louis, Mo.), Weiwen Wang (Nanjing, China) and Lei Wang-Francisco (Shanghai, China). Wang-Francisco becomes a four-time honoree as she has earned first-team laurels in each season since 2006 as she is in her fifth year with the program. Wang and Klein are also repeating performers as both landed on the first team in 2008 as well. Armendariz and Lopez were both named to the first team for the first time in their careers. Lopez led all Tigers this season with a 3.81 grade-point-average as an undeclared arts and science major. Junior Catie Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) was named to the second team as she just missed the 3.20 GPA cut-off with a 3.19 cumulative mark in health science. The second-team award is the first of Wilson's career.

Cracking the Top Six
With its win on Wednesday, Mizzou now ranks in the league's top six, leaping ahead of Texas A&M. The top six is a crucial spot for NCAA Tournament consideration as Mizzou has made the tournament in each of the three seasons that it has finished sixth in the Big 12. The last time Mizzou finished sixth was in 2007, the last year that the team went to the dance. That year, Mizzou nearly shocked one of the nation's top teams in Washington. In fact, the Tigers took Washington to five sets in the match before falling, 11-15 in the fifth. The other two years that Mizzou finished sixth in the league were 2003 and 2006. Its best run in those three years came in 2006 when it fell one set shy of the Sweet 16.

Nearly Perfect at Hearnes
With its win over Oklahoma last Wednesday, Mizzou pushed its record at home to 11-2 this season, making it one of the toughest places for opponents to play this season. The home record is Mizzou's best since opening the 2001 season 11-1. Mizzou has two more home matches this season, both against ranked teams, as it looks to add some quality wins to its NCAA Tournament résumé.

Scouting the Cyclones
Iowa State enters Saturday's match as one of the nation's elite teams, sitting at No. 8 in the AVCA/Bison Top 25 Poll. The Cyclones start three All-Americans from its elite Eight team a season ago in Kaylee Manns, Ashley Mass and Victoria Henson. Manns leads the Big 12 with 12.12 assists per set this season as she is the only player in the league to average more than 12.00. Mass, the defending Big 12 Libero of the Year, leads the league in digs at 5.47 while Henson is third in the league with 4.09 kills per set.

The strength of the ISU team is undoubtedly its defensive play, anchored by Mass. The Cyclones pull in an astounding 18.14 digs per set, which is by far the best mark in the Big 12. ISU also averages 2.61 blocks per set, a mark that trails only Texas in the Big 12. ISU has beaten both Nebraska and Texas this season, solidifying it as a national power in 2009.

Mizzou leads the all-time series with Iowa State, 34-30, but has lost four of the last six matches. In that span, four of the matches have gone more than three sets and two of those have gone the distance, making this one of Mizzou's most competitive opponents over the past several years. Mizzou shocked Iowa State last season at the Hearnes Center in an unforgettable match, knocking the Cyclones off, 3-2.

Double-Double Trouble
A pair of Tigers - Lei Wang-Francisco and Paola Ampudia - posted double-doubles in Saturday's win at Colorado, marking the third time this season that that has happened. The most recent occasion was at Kansas on Oct. 24 when the same two student-athletes did so. The only other time that it has happened this season was in Mizzou's five-set thriller with Texas A&M on Sept. 26. Wang-Francisco spread 45 assists and pulled in 12 digs in the CU match while Ampudia posted 10 kills and a career-best 15 digs.

'Pao-erful' Paola
With 221 kills in her last 13 matches (17.00 per match), no one in the Big 12 has been more important to their team than the Tigers' Paola Ampudia. Her 221 kills in that span are 121 more than any Tiger on the roster and five more than the next closest attacker in the Big 12, Destinee Hooker of Texas. Ampudia has hit the 20-kill plateau in four of her last 10 matches - including a school-record 35 at Kansas - and has posted four double-doubles in that span as well. Ampudia currently holds the Big 12 three-set high with 22 kills at Nebraska and the Big 12 four-set high with 35 kills at Kansas. The 35 kills against the Jayhawks are also a Big 12 four-set record.

Trailing only Hooker
Paola Ampudia has been creeping into Big 12 Player of the Year discussions as of late as she now ranks second in the league in points per set (4.98) and in kills per set (4.47), trailing only Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year Destinee Hooker of Texas in both categories.

It's That Time of Year...
...to start looking at the Tigers' NCAA Tournament résumé. Last Wednesday's win over Oklahoma will go a long way to helping Mizzou's tournament chances as it marks a win over a team that held a No. 34 ranking in the RPI ranks last week. Oklahoma also ranked just outside the AVCA/Bison Top 25 at No. 26, making that win one of the Tigers' best of the season. Also, 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 five wins over RPI top 100 teams this season and has taken sets from three others that rank in the top 40. Finally, the Tigers have played 13 matches against 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 plays three teams ranked in the RPI top 42 - two of which come at home - to close out its season as it has the potential to rack up several quality wins as the season winds down.

Milestone for Vann
Junior libero Caitlyn Vann posted 17 digs at Texas Tech to raise her season total to 432, tying Tatum Ailes for fifth on Mizzou's all-time list. Vann now has 1,308 digs in her career, cracking the top three all-time at Mizzou as well.

Brit Steps Up
Sophomore Brittney Brimmage (East St. Louis, Ill.) posted seven kills on .500 hitting in the Tigers' sweep of Oklahoma last Wednesday. Her seven kills are her most since posting 13 against Utah on Sept. 5 while her .500 clip is her best when posting more than five kills since the Utah match as well.

A Seasoned Veteran
Senior setter Lei Wang-Francisco played in her 120th career match at Mizzou at Texas Tech, tying for fifth all-time. She also ranks fourth all-time with 441 sets played in her four-year career.

No `Hard-Knock Life' for this Annie
Sophomore defensive specialist Annie Lopez corralled 10 digs in last Wednesday's win over OU, two shy of her season-best, and added nine more at Colorado. Over her last 10 matches, Lopez ranks third on the team with 72 digs, trailing only libero Caitlyn Vann and Paola Ampudia. Lopez has hit double-digits in digs in three of those matches, including hitting her season-best 12 on two separate occasions.

Ace in the Hole
The Tigers currently rank first in the Big 12 with 1.29 service aces per set this season. Mizzou's 129 total aces leads the Big 12, 14 more than the second-place team. Both Caitlyn Vann (third, 0.30 per set) and Julianna Klein (sixth, 0.27 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. Mizzou posted a season-best 11 aces in its wins over Colorado and UMKC. That mark is tops in a Big 12 match this season. Mizzou had eight aces at Texas Tech on Wednesday/

52 Kills
Mizzou posted a then three-set season-high 52 kills in its win over K-State (Oct. 28). That mark is even more impressive when considering that Mizzou was 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.

Monkey off the Back?
The Tigers' win over Kansas (Oct. 24) 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. Mizzou earned its second Big 12 road win Saturday at Colorado and won its third at Texas Tech.

Season-Best for Mizzou
2,721 fans filed into the Hearnes Center against K-State, a season-best for the Tigers. Mizzou's season average is 1,745 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.

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.

Weekly Honors for Paola
For her efforts three that week, 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.

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.

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 2,951 total attacks at Mizzou, the most among active Tigers. She also is the active leader in total service aces (73) and kills (969). 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 140.0 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.

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 at that point. 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 Mizzou'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 three 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 214 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. 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 199 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 410-112 record as a head coach, including a 357-88 mark coaching women's volleyball. 90 of his 357 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.

Next up
Mizzou will host No. 24 Baylor on Wednesday, Nov. 25 at 6:30 p.m. as it continues it's crucial stretch. Baylor is No. 5 in the Big 12 standings while Mizzou is sixth and both play top-10 opponents this weekend, making Wednesday's match one of the most important of the season for the Tigers.



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