Nov. 24, 2009
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Mizzou VolleyBlog: The Official Blog of Tiger Volleyball
Match Info: Mizzou (18-12, 9-8 Big 12) vs. Iowa State (21-9, 10-9 Big 12)
Date: Wednesday, Nov. 25
Time: 6:30 p.m.
Location: Columbia, Mo.
Arena: Hearnes Center
Streaming Radio: www.MUTigers.com
What You Need to Know
The Tigers will honor their pair of seniors - Amanda Hantouli and Lei Wang-Francisco - at the match on Wednesday. Both Hantouli and Wang-Francisco have been staples in the Tiger lineup for the last four seasons and both will leave the program ranked in the all-time top 10 in several statistical categories.
Wednesday's match is a battle between the league's sixth-place team (Mizzou) and the league's fifth-place team (Baylor). Both are currently sitting on the NCAA Tournament bubble, making Wednesday's showdown a crucial one for the Tigers.
Mizzou enters the final week of the regular season as they have two matches with teams that rank in the RPI top 40. A pair of wins would prove to be huge for the Tigers' NCAA Tournament hopes.
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.
Mizzou will square off against Baylor as it starts the final week of regular season play Wednesday at the Hearnes Center. The match is slated for a 6:30 p.m. start. The Tigers currently stand at 9-9 in the Big 12, placing them in a tie with this Saturday's opponent - Texas A&M - for sixth-place in the league. Baylor comes in at 10-9 as it will play its final regular season match against the Tigers on Wednesday. Baylor is currently in fifth place in the Big 12, making this week a pivotal match for the Tigers' NCAA hopes. A win would go a long way in helping move Mizzou from the bubble to a team that looks like a lock for the NCAA Tournament. A pair of wins this week would also likely place Mizzou fifth in the Big 12 this season, a spot that has routinely qualified for the NCAA Tournament.
Honoring the Seniors
Wednesday will also serve as the final home match for seniors Lei Wang-Francisco and Amanda Hantouli. Both have been staples in the Tiger lineup throughout their tenure with the program and both will leave as some of the most experienced and celebrated athletes in program history. After Wednesday's match, Wang-Francisco will have played in more sets than any other Tiger and she will likely finish her career ranked third all-time at Mizzou in career assists, despite playing with 25-point sets in her final two seasons. She has two career triple-doubles and nine matches in which she has spread at least 60 assists. Hantouli ranks among the top blockers in school history and will likely finish her career with the fourth-most total blocks and the third-best block per set average. Hantouli Has 61 kills this season and 49 total blocks, averaging 0.77 per set.
Both Wang-Francisco and Hantouli will have played in a combined 241 matches and 835 sets, making it one of the most experienced combinations to ever graduate from the program in the same season.
Last Time Out
Mizzou saw its winning streak snapped at three matches after being swept by No. 8 Iowa State on Saturday. A season-best 2,824 fans packed into the Hearnes Center to watch the match. The loss is only Mizzou's third at home this season as all three of its home losses have come against top-10 teams. Paola Ampudia led Mizzou with 15 kills while libero Caitlyn Vann led Mizzou with 16 digs.
Vann Continues Her Climb
With her 16 digs on Saturday, libero Caitlyn Vann moved her season total to 448, the fourth-most during a single season in Mizzou history. Although it is unlikely that Vann moves into third (560, set by her last season), she could however become only the second Tiger to post back-to-back 500 dig seasons if she has two amazing matches over her final two. That is a strong possibility as the last time that Mizzou played these two teams, Vann pulled in a combined 43 digs. She needs 52 over her final two matches to do so, which would join former Tiger Tatum Ailes as the only two to post two-straight 500-dig seasons. Vann is also just 48 digs shy of tying Shen Danru for the second-most career digs in school history.
Newcomer of the Week: Part IV
Junior outside hitter Paola Ampudia was named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week for the fourth time this season as announced by the Big 12 on Monday (Nov. 23). Ampudia led Mizzou with 32 kills (5.33 per set) and seven blocks (1.17 per set) last week. She also averaged 3.00 digs per set, finishing with nine in each match.
Last Time Against Baylor
Mizzou was swept by Baylor back on September 29 as it played one of its most sluggish matches of the season in Waco. Catie Wilson led Mizzou with eight kills on .375 hitting in the match.
Win No. 200
Last 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 nearly a third of Mizzou's 618 volleyball wins.
The Home Stretch Begins
Anyone close to the Mizzou volleyball program has been looking at the final week of the regular season as one of the most important stretches of the schedule for the Tigers this season. Not only would these two matches mark a pair of 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 in a tie for sixth with Mizzou at 9-9. If the Tigers win both of these matches, they will likely finish fifth in the Big 12, vastly improving their NCAA Tournament hopes.
Climbing the Record Books
Junior middle hitter Catie Wilson hit .379 with 12 kills last week. 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 217 kills, 22 more than her first two seasons combined. Wilson is also hitting .330 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 52 errors on 35 less attacks, which is a large reason why Wilson has been able to climb the record books.
Nearly Perfect at Hearnes
Mizzou stands at 11-3 inside the friendly confines of the Hearnes Center this season, making it one of the toughest places for opponents to play this season. Mizzou's only three losses have come to teams that have been ranked and are still ranked in the AVCA/Bison Top 10. The home record is Mizzou's best since opening the 2001 season 11-1. Wednesday marks the final home match of the season and a win would give Mizzou its 12th win at home, its most since 2004 when it also pulled out 12 wins at the Hearnes Center.
The Tiger Back Row Comes Alive
After corralling only 67 digs in back-to-back matches with Nebraska and Texas three weeks ago, the Tiger back row has shined over its last four matches, pulling in 244, good enough for 61 per match. 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. Mizzou then pulled in 45 at Texas Tech and 58 against Iowa State, both in three-set matches.
Cracking the Top 20
The 2,824 fans that packed into the Hearnes Center for Saturday's match with No. 8 Iowa State helped bump Mizzou's season averaged to 1,823 fans per match. That averages ranks Mizzou No. 19 in the country in national attendance. If the Tigers get another large crowd on Wednesday, they will likely stay ranked in the nation's top 20.
Cracking the Top Six
Mizzou currently ranks in a tie for sixth-place in the Big 12 with Texas A&M, a team that they beat early in the season at the Hearnes Center. 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.
A pair of Tigers - Lei Wang-Francisco and Paola Ampudia - posted double-doubles in last 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.
Scouting the Bears
Baylor enters the match as the Big 12's No. 5 team, standing at 10-9 in league play and 21-9 overall. Baylor opened the season by winning 17 of its first 18 matches, including its first 11. Its only blemish during that span was a three-set loss to No. 2 Texas. Since then, Baylor has lost eight of its last 12 and three of its four wins have come against the bottom three teams in the Big 12. Wednesday's match with Mizzou will mark Baylor's final match of the regular season as they look to remain in fifth-place in the Big 12.
Baylor's top three players are seniors this season and the trio has led Baylor to a top-25 ranking nearly all season. Setter Taylor Barnes leads the team by averaging 10.67 assists per set and she leads the Big 12 with 44 total service aces this season. Her two favorite targets are classmates Anna Breyfogle and Katie Sanders. Breyfogle is the league's sixth-most efficient hitter at .332 and she averages 2.47 kill per set. Sanders in Baylor's leading kill-getter with 333 on the season, averaging 3.17 per frame. However, she is hitting just .193 on the season. The Bears rank in the top six in every statistical category in the Big 12 this season. Its highest rank on the season is its 2.57 blocks per set, which ranks third in the Big 12 behind top-10 foes Texas and Iowa State.
Mizzou leads the all-time series with Baylor, 15-12, but the Bears have won each of the last three meetings, with the most recent coming earlier this season in Waco. Before the current Baylor streak, Mizzou had won 11 of 12 over the Bears.
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). Five student-athletes from the Mizzou volleyball team were selected to the first team while one landed on the second team. The five first-team Academic All-Big 12 selections are the most for the Tigers since the 2005 season when they also had five members selected to the first-team.
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.
The `Pao-er' of Paola
With 236 kills in her last 14 matches (16.88 per match), no one in the Big 12 has been more important to their team than the Tigers' Paola Ampudia. Her 236 kills in that span are 128 more than any Tiger on the roster and eight 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 (5.01) and in kills per set (4.49), 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 seven wins over RPI top 100 teams this season and has taken sets from three others that rank in the top 40. Four of its seven wins over RPI top 100 teams have come against programs that rank No. 56 or higher. Finally, the Tigers have played 14 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 two teams ranked in the RPI top 40 to close out its season as it has the potential to rack up several quality wins as the season winds down.
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 78 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 1.25 service aces per set this season. Mizzou's 129 total aces leads the Big 12, nine more than the second-place team. Both Caitlyn Vann (third, 0.29 per set) and Julianna Klein (seventh, 0.26 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 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 has one road contest left this season and it is the final match of the regular season at Texas A&M.
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.
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).
Career Night for Klein
Julianna Klein posted the 1,000th point of her career in the Tigers' win over Texas A&M on her final kill of the match. Klein has the most points among active Tigers and with 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.
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.
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 200 matches in their 10 seasons at Mizzou.
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 411-113 record as a head coach, including a 358-89 mark coaching women's volleyball. 91 of his 358 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.
Mizzou will play its final regular season match at Texas A&M on Saturday, Nov. 28 in College Station. That match is slated for 4 p.m. start time.