What's Inside - A Quick Look at the Notes
Mizzou claimed its first-ever SEC Championship last weekend as it now sits at 33-0 and 17-0 in SEC play.
The conference title clinches Mizzou a spot in next month's NCAA Tournament, the 11th in the last 14 seasons.
The SEC title is also Mizzou's first-ever league title in volleyball and the first at Mizzou since 2011 (softball).
Mizzou is now just one win away from becoming the first SEC team to ever run the table in the regular season.
Wednesday's match vs. Arkansas will serve as senior day as Mizzou will honor Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning.
The senior class has accounted for 95 wins over four seasons at Mizzou, the best four-year span in program history.
The senior duo has a 95-36 record (.752) over four years and has played in four NCAA Tournament games.
Mizzou checks in at No. 4 in this week's AVCA Top-25 and garnered a No. 1 vote for the first time in history.
The Tigers have now been ranked in the AVCA Top-10 for a school-record five consecutive weeks.
Mizzou is fifth in this week's RPI, keeping Mizzou in the hunt for one of the top four seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
The Tigers join Colorado St. as the only unbeaten teams in the nation this season and are 4-0 vs. top-25 teams.
Mizzou's 33 wins this season are the most for a Kreklow-led team at Mizzou and the most since 1978 (37).
The 17 conference wins for Mizzou are the most in school history, topping the previous best of 16 in 2005.
Mizzou is leading the nation in hitting at .362, the best clip NCAA-wide since Penn State hit .381 in 2009.
Mizzou has hit better than .300 in 28 of 33 matches and had just 18 matches over .300 in the previous two seasons.
Lisa Henning has reset the school career kills record (1,753) and career points mark (1,988.0) this season.
Henning is the reigning SEC Player of the Week, her sixth career award and the Tigers' eighth this season.
Senior Molly Kreklow is the second Tiger to ever break the 5,000-assist mark in a career now with 5,233.
Junior Whitney Little is just one solo block away from tying the single season solo blocks record at Mizzou (40).
Little is the second Tiger to post three straight 100-block seasons and needs just 12 to tie her own season record.
Little is hitting .472 this year, the best single season clip in program history now that she has surpassed 400 attempts.
The Tiger offense has been incredibly balanced this season with its top eight attackers all hitting .316 or better.
The Tigers are averaging just 3.50 attack errors per set, the top mark among teams from power conferences.
Mizzou also leads teams from power conferences in points per set at 19.56.
In addition to leading the nation in hitting (.362), Mizzou leads in assists (14.51), kills (15.28) and wins (33).
Molly Kreklow is second nationally in assists per set (12.59) and Whitney Little is second in hitting (.472).
Henning has 1,753 career kills, the top active mark in the SEC and fourth nationally among active players.
Kreklow has guided the Tigers to their second-best three-year hitting percentage in school history (.267).
Kreklow's 5,233 career assists are the third-most among active NCAA players and the top mark in the SEC.
Tigers Look to Complete First-Ever Undefeated Regular Season
At a perfect 33-0 and 17-0 in the SEC, only Arkansas (16-12, 9-8 SEC) stands in the way of a perfect regular season for the No. 4 Mizzou volleyball team. After claiming the school's first-ever SEC Championship last weekend, the Tigers will now look to become the first-ever SEC team to run the table in the regular season. Florida and LSU each had a pair of one-loss regular seasons, but no team from the SEC has ever run the table in the regular season.
We Are The Champions!
With its two wins last weekend, the Mizzou volleyball team is now the outright SEC Champion, the school's first-ever SEC Championship and the school's first volleyball league title. It is also Mizzou's first regular season conference title since softball won the Big 12 in 2011. The title clinches Mizzou a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Tigers In the Polls
Mizzou is ranked fourth in this week's AVCA Top-25 Poll, marking the fifth consecutive week that the Tigers have been ranked in the top-10, a school record. Mizzou also received a first-place vote in this week's poll, a program-first.
Honoring The Seniors
When their careers are all said and done, the names Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning will likely be remembered as some of all-time best athletes to ever play volleyball at Mizzou. The duo, which came in as the No. 14 recruiting class nationally back in 2010, has a 95-36 (.752) record in their four years at Mizzou, the winningest four-year stretch in program history (total wins and winning percentage) and has played in four NCAA Tournament matches, including a Sweet 16 in 2010. The duo have combined for countless awards, including a combined seven major All-Conference selections, three AVCA All-Region picks, a pair of All-America honors and two AVCA National-Player of the Week awards.
Henning Named SEC Player of the Week - Second Week in a Row
For the second consecutive week, Mizzou volleyball senior and two-time All-American Lisa Henning was named Southeastern Conference Player of the Week. Henning helped fourth-ranked Mizzou to a pair of wins as the Tigers wrapped up the school's first-ever SEC Championship and the school's first-ever conference volleyball title with wins over Mississippi State and at No. 16 Kentucky last weekend. She averaged 5.25 points per set and hit .453 on the weekend. Henning was sensational in a pair of wins last weekend, but particularly in Mizzou's 3-0 sweep at No. 16 Kentucky which was the Tigers' second road sweep of a ranked team this season. In that win, Henning notched a match-high 17 kills on .556 hitting with six digs and a block.
Molly Kreklow - SEC Player of the Year?
As Mizzou draws closer to its first ever conference championship in the sport of volleyball, it is hard to argue the most important player to the team's success has been senior setter Molly Kreklow. As the season draws to a close, Kreklow should be in the running for national recognition as she has quarterbacked the nation's most prolific offense. Below is a look at some notables for Kreklow.
Set Mizzou to .300 hitting or better in 28 of 33 matches and has the team-hitting an NCAA-best .362.
Kreklow has eight different hitters attacking at .316 or better.
Mizzou leads the nation in hitting, assists and kills behind Kreklow's setting.
She is second nationally in assists per set and leads power conferences in that stat at 12.59.
Wayne Kreklow - Coach of the Year?
With a perfect regular season just one win away, head coach Wayne Kreklow is starting to garner some praise as not only the SEC Coach of the Year, but National Coach of the Year. He has taken a team that went 19-12 (10-10 SEC) and missed the NCAA Tournament to a national-best 33-0 record and the program's first-ever conference championship. His team ranks among the national-elite in every offensive category and is among the most efficient side-out teams in the nation at nearly 63-percent. He is also the architect of a team that scores the most points per set (19.56) nationally while committing a national-low 3.50 attack errors per set. The record is great, but it is the team's efficiency that says the most about Kreklow's tutelage. Kreklow has also led the Tigers to a school-record 33 wins (NCAA Tournament era), already the winningest season at Mizzou (winning %) and the most conference wins in school history (17).
Carly Kan - Freshman of the Year?
There are several freshman in the SEC that are making huge impacts this season - Alabama's Krystal Rivers, Florida's Alex Holston and LSU's Briana Holman come to mind - but Mizzou's Carly Kan may have made the largest impact. Of all of those players named, Kan is the only six-rotation player and the only one that is a primary passer. During SEC play, she ranks in the league's top-10 in hitting, kills, aces, points and in SEC play, she is the only player in the league to average more than 3.00 kills per set and 3.00 digs per set in league play. She has been targeted with 672 serves, a team-high, and she has converted 96-percent of those chances. Not only is she the Tigers' No. 2 swing, but she has shored up the Tiger passing, defense and ball control this season.
Passing, Side-Out Game Key to Offensive Efficiency
Mizzou is one of the most efficient teams in the nation and is siding-out opponents at a near 63-percent clip this season. A big reason why that number is so high is due to the Tigers' two primary passers - junior libero Sarah Meister and freshman phenom Carly Kan. In fact, 48.3-percent of Meister's service receptions have been turned into kills this season while Kan, an outside hitter, checks in at 47.9-percent. The duo combined sees 48.1-percent of its first-ball passes turned into kills, an amazing percentage. Last year, the Tigers' two primary passers saw just 38-percent of their first-ball passes converted to kills. The in-system passing of Meister and Kan has been a big key to the Tigers' success.
For senior All-American Lisa Henning, Mizzou's 3-0 win over Ole Miss on Nov. 1 was a memorable day as she became Mizzou's all-time career kills leader. She passed Shen Danru, who had 1,658 from 2002-05, and now has 1,753 in her storied career. She is the SEC's active kills leader and is fourth in the nation among active players. Last Friday at Florida, she moved into first place at Mizzou in career points and now has 1,988 in her four seasons.
Nothing Little About Her - Little Named SEC Defensive Player of the Week
Junior All-SEC middle blocker Whitney Little is currently in the hunt for some school records. Below is a look.
Little needs just two solo blocks to reset the single season record at Mizzou (currently 40).
She is the first Tiger in the rally scoring era to post three consecutive 100-block seasons.
She ranks first in school history with her .472 attack clip this year after meeting the 400-attempt minimum.
She needs just 13 blocks to reset her own single season blocks record (139).
Molly Kreklow Makes History as Well
Senior setter Molly Kreklow has also etched her name into history, becoming just the second Tiger in program history to amass 5,000 career assists. Heading into the weekend, she has 5,233 as she joins former All-American and Mizzou Athlete of the Decade Lindsey Hunter as the only two to surpass 5,000 career assists. Hunter, now an assistant coach with the Tigers, had 6,097 from 2002-05. Although the record is likely out of reach, keep in mind that Kreklow played in 25-point sets while Hunter played in 30-point sets. If Kreklow would have played in 30-point sets, she would be on pace to break Hunter's record.
Milestones for the Kreklows
Mizzou head coach Wayne Kreklow won his 500th match as a head coach (men's and women's volleyball) on Nov. 3 against No. 19 Kentucky. On Nov. 10 at Alabama, the duo of Wayne and Susan Kreklow picked up their 800th combined win, dating back to Susan's time as a head coach (she is now the Director of Volleyball). The Kreklows picked up their 300th win at Mizzou last Friday vs. Mississippi State as well.
2013 Tigers Are Historic
It has been well documented that the 2013 team is off to the best start in program history, topping the previous best mark of 19-0 in 1982, but as the season moves on, it is time to start looking at some other school records that are in jeopardy. Below is a look:
Mizzou has won the most matches during the Kreklow era (33), topping the previous best of 26 in 2002.
Mizzou has guaranteed the best regular season winning percentage in program history (it was .833).
The Tigers have won the most matches at Mizzou since 1978 (37).
The senior class now has the most wins of any four-year class in the expanded NCAA Tournament era (95).
Mizzou has won the most conference games in program history (17).
Tigers Lead Nation in Wins; One of Two Unbeatens Nationally
Heading into the weekend at a perfect 33-0, Mizzou leads the nation in wins this season and are one of just two unbeatens nationally. The Tigers are also the only unbeaten team in the SEC, have lost a national-low eight sets all season and their 99 set wins are a national-best. The other unbeaten team in the nation is Colorado State at 27-0.
Tigers Lead the Nation in Points Per Set
It has been well documented that Mizzou owns one of the nation's top offenses, but the most telling stat to back up that claim may be that the Tigers have scored 19.56 points per set this season, a national-best. A lot of that is due to the fact that Mizzou has lost an NCAA-low eight sets, but the fact that Mizzou is scoring nearly 20 of 25 points per set this season is impressive. Basically, if the opposition makes five errors (service, attack, ball handling, etc.), Mizzou has a pretty good shot of winning that set. Florida is the next-best team nationally, averaging 18.85 points per set, as Mizzou owns a wide margin in that category.
Tigers Lead Nation With Fewest Attack Errors Per Set
Heading into the weekend, Mizzou is averaging just 3.50 attack errors per set, the lowest among any team in a power conference this season. That's just one error every 9.28 attempts. Below is a look at the rankings.
Mizzou - 3.50
Stanford - 3.73
Penn State - 3.92
Arkansas comes into Wednesday's match at 16-12 overall and 9-8 in SEC play. The Razorbacks are one of the toughest outs in the SEC this season as they have only been swept three times all season. The Hogs are riding a two-match winning streak coming into Wednesday's match after defeating South Carolina and Mississippi State last weekend. The Razorbacks have also put themselves into position for an NCAA Tournament at-large berth as they sit at No. 37 in this week's NCAA RPI. The unquestioned leader for head coach Robert Pulliza is senior setter Raymariely Santos, who averages 1.35 kills per set, 6.44 assists per set and 2.33 digs per set. Their kills leader is Meredith Hays who has 416 on the season, averaging 3.96 per set. Hayley Koop also pitches in 2.48 kills per set. Arkansas is a good blocking team, averaging 2.52 per set. Mizzou defeated Arkansas, 3-1, in Fayetteville earlier this season in front of a national audience on ESPNU. Lisa Henning had 24 kills on .345 hitting in that win as she went on to earn SEC Player of the Week honors for that performance. Mizzou leads the all-time series with Arkansas, 4-3, and has won four of the last five meetings between the two teams.
Wins Away From Home
The Tigers have won 16 matches away from the Hearnes Center this season, their most-ever wins away from home in the NCAA Tournament era (1981-present). 12 of the Tigers' 16 wins away from home have come in true road contests as well, seven of which came against teams that went to the NCAA Tournament a year ago. Mizzou had just five true road wins all of last season.
Offense Fires on All Cylinders
Through the first 33 matches of the season, it is pretty clear that the Tiger offense has been playing at a very high level. In fact, when the NCAA national statistics were posted early this week, the Tigers rank among the national elite in nearly every statistical category. Below are a few talking points on the Tiger offense.
Mizzou leads the nation in hitting (.362), assists (14.51) and kills (15.28).
Molly Kreklow is second nationally in assists (12.59) and Whitney Little is second in hitting (.472)
Mizzou has hit better than .300 in 28 of 33 matches this season and has hit .380 or better 15 times
Mizzou's top eight attackers are all hitting .316 or better this season.
Defense Not Too Bad Either
Much has been written about the Tigers' high-flying offense, but a part of the Tigers' game that has been overlooked is the defense. In fact, Mizzou has limited 22 of 33 opponents under .200 hitting this season and only two teams have hit above .300 in a match. Mizzou limited Florida to .237 hitting on Oct. 13, the first SEC team to hold the Gators to under .300 hitting in a match since Nov. 23 last season against Georgia.
Time to Look at the NCAA Tournament Résumé
At 33-0 and 17-0 in SEC play, the Tigers check in at fourth in this week's AVCA Top-25 poll, but the more important number for the Tigers is their No. 5 rank in the NCAA RPI rank, which bodes well for the Tigers come NCAA Tournament selection time as they have been added to the AVCA First- and Second-Round Host watch list. Below is a look at the Tigers' résumé so far this season.
The Tigers have 11 wins over RPI top-50 teams and four over top-10 teams.
In all, the Tigers have 15 wins over RPI top 70-teams.
The Tigers have won an NCAA-best 99 sets this season and lost an NCAA-low eight sets.
Mizzou has defeated 10 teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament last season.
Kreklow Continues to `Set' The Table
Although Molly Kreklow's 12.59 assists per set are second in the nation, that total would rank just seventh in school history in a single season. However, keep in mind that Kreklow is playing in 25-point sets while her predecessors all played in 30-point sets. If you average out her current assists per set clip to 30-point sets, she would be averaging 15.10 per set, ahead of the school record (Lindsey Hunter, 14.43 in 2004).
Little With National-Low 31 Attack Errors
So far this season, junior middle blocker Whitney Little has just 31 attack errors, the fewest of any player in the nation who has at least 400 attacks. In fact, Little is averaging just one error every 14.35 attacks this year. Texas' Chiaka Ogbogu has just 20 errors, but has played in just 59 sets and has only 205 attempts.
When the Southeastern Conference announced its Preseason All-SEC Team, a pair of Tigers were included on the list in seniors Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) and Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.). The selections mark the second consecutive season that both Henning and Kreklow were honored in the preseason by the SEC, and Mizzou joined league-favorite Florida as one of the only two teams in the SEC to place at least two players on the nine-member team. Henning and Kreklow began their Mizzou careers in the 2010 season as the cornerstones of what was the nation's No. 14 recruiting class that year according to PrepVolleyball.com. They have accounted for 89 wins, four NCAA Tournament matches and an NCAA Sweet 16. They have combined for seven major All-Conference Teams selections, a pair of All-America honors, three AVCA All-Region honors, 12 weekly conference honors and two AVCA National Player of the Week awards.
Seniors Now The All-Time Winningest Class at Mizzou
With 95 wins through their first three-plus seasons, the Mizzou senior class (Kreklow, Henning) is now the winningest class in program history (post-expanded NCAA Tournament era). They passed the previous class, which had 90 from 2002-05.
Crowds Among Best in School History
So far this season, Mizzou has seen very large crowds at the Hearnes Center as it has returned to being one of the premier venues in college volleyball. The Tigers have averaged 2,982 fans per match this season, 10th nationally, while the 50,699 fans to watch Mizzou at home are the fourth-most nationally this season. Mizzou's crowd vs. Mississippi State that watched Mizzou clinch its first-ever SEC Championship was the largest in program history at 7,879. In fact, in 10 of the Kreklow's 14 seasons, Mizzou has drawn more than 20,000 fans per year, including nine of the last 10 and five straight (including 2013).
Henning is SEC's Active Kills Leader
Obviously, Mizzou returns quite a bit of fire power to the roster in 2013, but there is no bigger weapon for Mizzou than two-time AVCA Third Team All-American Lisa Henning. Last season, Henning led the SEC in kills per set (4.64) and points per set (5.28), just one year removed from accomplishing the same feat in Big 12 play in 2011. She is the SEC's active kills leader with 1,753 in her career and sits just 64 kills shy of fourth in SEC history during the rally scoring era. She is the first ever Tiger to post back-to-back 500-kill seasons as well.
Kreklow Anchors Offense
Since 2010, there has been one constant in the Tiger starting lineup and that has been senior Molly Kreklow. She has started every match in her career, played in every set (131 matches, 462 sets) and is second all-time at Mizzou with 5,233 career assists. She has also guided Mizzou to its second-best three-year hitting percentage in program history at .267, trailing only the team from 2003-05 (.271), which was anchored by All-American setter and current assistant coach Lindsey Hunter.
Some Notables This Season
Mizzou has already accomplished a lot in just 33 matches. Below is a quick look at some major achievements.
Molly Kreklow was named SEC Player of the Week on Sept. 9, the first of her decorated career
Mizzou hit .458 in a win over Pitt, a school record for hitting a four-set match.
The Tigers hit a school-record .606 against SEMO, topping the previous mark of .585, set in 2000
Hit .559 vs. South Carolina, the best ever by a Tiger team against a conference opponent
Mizzou swept a school-record 10 consecutive matches from Sept. 7 through Sept. 27.
Lisa Henning and Carly Kan became the first Tiger teammates to hit over .700 in the same match vs. SC.
Lisa Henning was SEC Player of the Week on Oct. 7, the second of her career
Carly Kan was named SEC Freshman of the Week on Oct. 14, the first of her career.
Molly Kreklow was named SEC Player of the Week and AVCA National Player of the Week on Oct. 21.
Mizzou was the fourth team to hit above .300 vs. Florida this season, joining Penn State, Stanford and WMU.
Mizzou earned its first win over a top-five team by knocking off No. 2 Florida on Oct. 13
Carly Kan became the first Tiger frosh since 10/8/07, to take home a conference player of the week.
Mizzou earned its first sweep of a top-20 team since Oct. 29, 2011, when topping UK on Nov. 3.
Mizzou earned its first road win over at top-five team at No. 15.
The win at Florida was also the first time that the Gators have been swept at home under Mary Wise.
It was also just the Gators' sixth home SEC loss under Wise.
Tigers With Three of the SEC's Top 20 Active Kill Leaders
As noted earlier, senior Lisa Henning is the SEC's active kill leader with 1,725, but a pair of other Tigers - Emily Wilson and Whitney Little - also rank among the league's top 20 active kill leaders. The three players in the top-20 ties Mizzou for the most of any SEC school in the top 20, while the three players account for a league-best 3,164 career kills. What is even more remarkable is that the trio has accumulated those kills on a combined .281 hitting with two players (Henning and Wilson) playing on the outside. Below is a look at the ranks:
SEC Rank Player Kills
1. Henning 1,753
11. Wilson 743
15. Little 668
Freshman Class Garners National Praise
PrepVolleyball.com tabbed Mizzou's 2013 freshman class as the No. 18 recruiting class nationally. The No. 18 ranking places the Tigers third in the SEC, trailing only Arkansas (16) and Tennessee (17). The No. 18 national ranking is the highest for Mizzou since the 2010 freshman class ranked 14th nationally. This year's class is comprised of six individuals, the second-largest class in program history: Carly Kan, 5-9 DS/OH, Punahou (Honolulu, Hawaii); Loxley Keala, 5-11 S, Iolani (Honolulu, Hawaii); Courtney Meek, 5-5 DS, St. Joseph's (St. Louis, Missouri); Linda Steinhardt, 5-5 DS, Cedar Park (Texas); Emily Thater, 6-3 MB, Kickapoo (Springfield , Missouri) and Julia Towler, 6-2 MB/OH, Blue Springs South (Blue Springs, Missouri).
High School All-Americans
Both Carly Kan and Loxley Keala earned big-time accolades coming out of high school this year. Kan was named to the Volleyball Magazine High School All-America First Team and the PrepVolleyball.com High School All-America First Team. The first team for both publications featured the top 13 high school seniors in the country. Keala was also an Honorable Mention High School All-American according to PrepVolleyball.com. Kan was recognized as a first team Defensive Dandy by PrepVolleyball.com as well. She was one of just 12 players nationally selected to the first team.
As Mizzou volleyball takes the court this season, there will be something that a lot of Tiger fans have not seen as two Hawaii natives will don the Black & Gold as both Carly Kan and Loxley Keala call the Rainbow State their home. The freshman duo calls Honolulu home and played on rival high schools growing up. As a hot bed for volleyball talent, both Kan and Keala bring extensive beach play to Mizzou and great all-around games. They are the first Hawaii natives to play for Mizzou volleyball. The two were beach partners their senior year.
Kreklows Are Second-Longest Tenured Women's Coaches at Mizzou
Now entering their 14th overall season at Mizzou, Wayne and Susan Kreklow are the second-longest tenured women's coaches at Mizzou and the fourth-longest overall. Only Mizzou soccer's Bryan Blitz has had a longer current tenure as a women's coach at Mizzou and only baseball coach Tim Jamieson, Blitz and wrestling coach Brian Smith have been at Mizzou longer among current Mizzou head coaches. The Kreklows have overseen the longest run by any coach in Mizzou volleyball history.
Weekly Conference Honors Trend
Since the start of the 2009 season, a trend has started for the Mizzou volleyball program. In the last four-plus seasons, Mizzou has claimed 37 conference weekly honors, including 11 SEC tallies. What makes that mark even more impressive is the fact that from 1990-2008, Mizzou had just 17 weekly conference honorees.
Volleyball on the Air
If you can't be at the Tigers' matches this season, you can still catch all of the action at MUTigers.com as all of the matches will be streamed with audio and home matches will have video and audio. Ben Wilson will enter his first year behind the microphone in 2013 and will be joined by former Tiger Katie O'Brien. Links to each broadcast can be found on MUTigers.com and MizzouNetwork.com.
Mizzou will host an NCAA Tournament watch party on Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. in the Clinton Club. For all the latest on Mizzou volleyball, stay tuned to MUTigers.com and follow the team on twitter @MizzouVB.