Tigers Return Home for Final NCAA Tournament Push

<i>Whitney Little could break her own Mizzou single season blocks record this week.</i>

Whitney Little could break her own Mizzou single season blocks record this week.

Nov. 19, 2012

Mizzou Volleyball (19-10, 10-8 SEC) vs. Kentucky (18-10, 12-6 SEC), Alabama (17-13, 6-12 SEC)
Date: Nov. 21, 23
Time: 6:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m.
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Television: Metro Sports (Wednesday)
Live Stream: MizzouNetwork.com (Friday)
Twitter Updates: @MU_Volleyball
Notes: Notes - vs. Kentucky, Alabama Get Acrobat Reader

What's Inside - A Quick Look at the Notes
• Winners of four of their last six, the Tigers return home to face Kentucky and Alabama on Thanksgiving week.
• At 50 in the RPI this week, this will be the final chance for the Tigers to pick up a resume-boosting win this season.
• Wednesday's match with UK (No. 24 in RPI) will be pivotal to the Tigers' chances to qualify for the Tournament
Lisa Henning needs 14 kills per match over the last two to become the first Tiger with back-to-back 500-kill seasons
• Henning is averaging 4.67 kills per set this season, the second-best single season mark in program history.
• Henning's 472 kills this season are the sixth-most ever by a Tiger in a single season.
• Henning cracked the Mizzou all-time top 10 on the career kills list as she is now seventh with 1,261 kills.
• Henning cracked the Mizzou top-10 in career points. She now has 1,421.5 career points, which is eighth.
• She is the second-fastest Tiger to ever reach 1,000 kills, trailing only school-record holder Shen Danru.
Jade Hayes has 12 service aces in the last sixth matches as she now ranks third in the SEC in aces per set.
Sarah Meister has just 10 reception errors in her last 325 attempts, spanning 13 matches (25 attempts per match)
Molly Kreklow is second in the SEC in double-doubles with 19 this season, trailing UT's Kelsey Robinson.
• Kreklow sits just six assists shy of fourth-place all-time at Mizzou in career assists with 3,806.
• Mizzou has the fourth-fewest attack errors (406) in the country and the third-fewest attack errors per set (4.02)
• Mizzou is hitting .264 over its last six matches and ranks second in the SEC at .263 this season.
• The Tigers continue to lead the SEC in blocking at 2.69 per set in all matches and 2.82 in SEC matches.
• As a team, Mizzou ranks 21st nationally in hitting (.261) and 25th in blocks per set (2.69).
• The duo of Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning has 30 combined double-doubles, which is second in the SEC.
• Henning is No. 3 on the active kill leaders list in the SEC w/ 1,261. She is the top junior on the 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 eighth nationally in points per set (5.30) and in kills (4.67).
• Henning owns four of the SEC's top point performances in league matches this season.
Whitney Little is 25th nationally in blocks per set (1.35) and eighth in solo blocks (26).
• Little leads the SEC in blocks per set (1.35) in all matches and in SEC matches (1.49).

Tigers With Last Chance to Improve NCAA Tournament Résumé
With just two matches remaining in the regular season, the Mizzou volleyball program will have one last chance to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee this week as it welcomes Kentucky and Alabama to the Hearnes Center for a pair of Thanksgiving Week matches. Mizzou will host Kentucky at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday (Nov. 21) and Alabama at 6:30 p.m. Friday (Nov. 23). Wednesday's match with Kentucky will air live on Metro Sports with Brenda VanLengen and Craig Sherman on the call.

Updating the NCAA Tournament Talks
Heading into the week, Mizzou is No. 50 in the NCAA RPI, but will have a chance to improve that mark should they knock of Kentucky and Alabama this week. UK comes into Wednesday's match as the No. 24 team in the RPI, meaning that if the Tigers knock off the Wildcats, they have the chance to significantly move up in the RPI ranks. Last year, the top 49 RPI teams (with the exception of No. 47 Kansas which finished 5-15 in conference play and 15-14 overall) qualified for last year's dance. That means that if the Tigers go 2-0 this week, they will put themselves in a position to qualify for the tournament.

Last Time vs. Alabama
The Tigers earned a four-set win over the Crimson Tide, 3-1 (25-19, 22-25, 25-18, 25-16), on Oct. 7 in Tuscaloosa. Junior Lisa Henning led the way in that match with 23 kills and 16 digs while Whitney Little added 14 kills on .448 hitting with eight blocks in the win. Mizzou hit .281 in the win while limiting Alabama to just .142 hitting. Laura Steiner led Alabama with 14 kills in the match but also committed nine errors.

Last Time Out
The Mizzou volleyball team continued its trend of winning on Sundays but losing on Fridays as it again went 1-1 last week with a sweep at Mississippi State and a four-set loss at Texas A&M Friday. The 1-1 record on the week moves the Tigers to 19-10 and 10-8 in SEC with two regular season matches remaining. The Tigers remain in the hunt for their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance in 13 seasons at 19-10 and a top-50 RPI rank. Lisa Henning led the Tigers with 5.14 kills per set last week, including 21 in a four-set loss at Texas A&M,

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 28 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 14.0 kills per match over her last two 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 Just Four Blocks From Her Own School Record
With 134 blocks this season, sophomore Whitney Little sits just four blocks shy of matching her own single season school record for blocks in a season (138). The 138 set last season ties her with All-American Christi Myers for the single season school record. She needs just 2.0 blocks per match to break that mark this week.

Meister Playing Well in Back Row
Over the last 13 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 13 matches, Meister has converted 315 of her 325 service receptions and is averaging 25 service receptions per match in that span. In fact, Meister now boasts a .969 reception percentage this season despite covering more floor in the passing game than arguably any libero in the SEC.

Kreklow-Henning are a Double-Double Double-Duo
So far this season, Mizzou as a team has posted 34 double-doubles as a team, but the junior duo of Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning has accounted for 30 of those 34. In fact, Kreklow is second in the SEC with 19 double-doubles while Henning has 10 of her 11 double-doubles in SEC play, ranking her seventh in the SEC in league matches. The 30 combined double-doubles ranks second among all SEC duos this season (UT's Robinson-Pollmiller, 37).

Kreklow On Fire Over Last Four
Junior setter Molly Kreklow has been on a tear over her last four matches as she has done just about everything for the Tigers. In fact, she is averaging 10.84 assists per set and 3.32 digs per set while guiding the team to a .264 attack percentage over the last six 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 six matches, Kreklow has shined and helped the Tigers to four 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 16-0 when totaling more digs than its opponents while it is just 3-10 when giving up more digs.

Tigers In the National Rankings
As Mizzou enters the final week of play, several Tigers rank among the national elite in certain categories. First, as a team, Mizzou ranks 21st nationally in hitting (.261) and 24th in blocking (2.69 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 week, Mizzou ranks second in the SEC in hitting at .261 and a key reason for that mark is the Tigers' ability to cut down on attack errors. In fact, Mizzou has the fourth-fewest attack errors in the country so far this season (406) and is averaging just 4.02 errors per set. In fact, the three teams that have fewer errors than the Tigers have played at least one fewer match than Mizzou. Below is a look at the standings.
    • Texas - 335 errors - 26 matches - 3.76 per set
    • BYU - 366 errors - 28 matches - 3.69 per set
    • Florida - 394 errors - 27 matches - 4.19 per set
    • Mizzou - 406 errors - 29 matches - 4.02 per set
    • Washington - 423 errors - 27 matches - 4.27 per set
    • Nebraska - 431 errors - 27 matches - 4.18 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 1,261 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 as she is currently eighth with 1,421.5 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 third 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
    • Has 10 of her 11 double-doubles on the season in SEC Play
    • Averaging 2.83 digs per set in SEC play
    • Is hitting .260 in league play despite getting 500 more balls than the next-best Tiger
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 25th nationally in blocks per set (1.35) and leads the SEC overall and in league matches
    • Little is also eighth nationally in solo blocks (26)
    • 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 (1.20) and is second in hitting (.322)
    • Little could reset her own single season blocking record (138). She is on pace for more than 140 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 2.69 blocks per set average. The 2.69 blocks per set clip ranks the Tigers 25th nationally. The numbers are even better in SEC play as the Tigers are averaging 2.82 blocks per set with a league-leading 183.0 total blocks.

Scouting Kentucky
At 18-10 overall and 12-6 in SEC play, Kentucky comes in as one of the best teams in the league and ranks No. 24 in the RPI this week. UK hits .250 to their opponents' .185 while averaging 13.66 kills per set. Junior Whitney Billings does most of the damage, hitting .248 with 314 kills/ The setter is Christine Hartmann, who is averaging 10.88 assists per set this season. Also, UK's libero, Stephanie Klefot is widely regarded as the best libero in the league and she is averaging 3.87 digs per set this season. Kentucky is also a very good serving team as it leads the SEC with 1.36 service aces per set. Billings leads the Wildcats with 29 aces. Kentucky is 5-6 on the road this season.

Series Information
Mizzou and Kentucky have met just twice in history with the most recent meeting coming back in 2008 when the Wildcats won, 3-0, in College Park, Md. The only over previous meeting was a 3-2 win by the Wildcats at home back in 1984.

Scouting Alabama
Alabama comes into the week at 17-13 overall and 6-12 in SEC play. Alabama is hitting .230 as a team this season and outside hitter Kayla Fitterer leads the team with 322 kills on .252 hitting. Laura Steiner has 273 kills on the season but is hitting just .186 on the year. Sierra Wilson is the team's setter and she is averaging 10.81 aps while Christina Arenas is the libero, pulling in 3.76 dps.

Series Information
Mizzou and the Tide have met just twice after the Tigers topped Alabama, 3-1, on Oct. 7 this season in Tuscaloosa. The only other meeting came in Wayne and Susan Kreklow's third year at the helm in 2002. Mizzou won that match, 3-1, at Alabama. This will mark the first match between Mizzou and Alabama in Columbia.

Tigers Second in SEC, 21st Nationally in Hitting
Heading into the week, Mizzou ranks among the national elite in team hitting percentage at .261, ranking it second in the SEC and 21st nationally. If the season ended today, the .261 clip would be the fourth-best attack clip in program history, trailing only the `05 team (.299), the `00 team (.289) and the `02 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 .261 attack percentage, Kreklow also proved to be a formidable attacker, posting 108 kills on 226 attacks with just 25 errors, good for a .367 clip. Kreklow entered the season as a .179 career attacker, so her .367 clip is a vast improvement.

Home Sweet Home
Mizzou has been very good at home this season, posting a 10-3 record with its only losses coming to nationally-ranked Michigan, Florida and Texas A&M, which is receiving votes in the AVCA Top 25 poll. Conversely, Mizzou is just 9-7 away from Hearnes this season. As the Tigers enter the final week of the season, Mizzou plays its remaining two matches at home, which is a good thing as they make a push towards the NCAA Tournament.

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 4.32 digs per set, sixth-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 19 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 13.34 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 .242 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 1,261 career kills are third among active SEC players and tops among SEC juniors. The two players ranked ahead of Henning on the list are seniors as Arkansas' Jasmine Norton leads all active SEC players in kills. 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 a win last Sunday, the class now has 62 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 - 62 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
The Tigers will await their NCAA Tournament fate as the Tournament field will be announced Sunday afternoon live on ESPNU. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MU_Volleyball.



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