Dec. 2, 2013
COLUMBIA, Mo. - After winning the SEC Championship and posting a perfect 34-0 regular season record, the No. 4 Mizzou volleyball team garnered plenty of individual honors when the Southeastern Conference announced its annual postseason awards Monday (Dec. 2). Senior setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) was named SEC Player of the Year as voted on by the league's 14 coaches. Freshman phenom Carly Kan (Honolulu, Hawaii) was named SEC Freshman of the Year and Mizzou head coach Wayne Kreklow was honored as the league's Coach of the Year as well.
Additionally, there were plenty of Tigers spread across the All-SEC Team. Molly Kreklow was joined on the All-SEC Team by classmate Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.). Kan, already the Freshman of the Year, was named to the All-SEC team and junior Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) was named to the All-SEC team as well.
"As a whole, I am just really happy for our kids today as I really feel like these honors are an accurate representation of what they have meant to our program all season long," Wayne Kreklow said. "Molly is well-deserving of her award as she is the quarterback of this team - she makes us go. I think Lisa Henning was probably in the conversation for that award, but I think as the coaches voted, it came down to Molly running our team as truly one the best setters in the country. I am really happy for Carly, Lisa and Whit too as they have meant so much to us all year."
was the key for a Tiger offense that ranks first in the nation in every offensive category (hitting, kills, assists) and she has guided Mizzou to better than .300 hitting in 29 of 34 matches this season. To put that number into perspective, Mizzou had just 18 such matches in the previous two seasons combined. She set the Tigers to a .362 attack clip, the best single-season percentage in school history and the best nation-wide since Penn State hit .381 in 2009. She finished the season ranked second nationally in assists per set and became just the second Tiger to ever amass 5,000 career assists this season. Kreklow is the first-ever Tiger to earn a major conference player of the year award.
"Honestly I am humbled by this," Kreklow said. "It has just been such a special season and I wouldn't be accepting this award if I didn't have such great teammates. We decided after last year that we were going to make this season a special one and everyone in our program was committed to that goal. From the first day of practice, everyone put their personal needs aside for the betterment of the team and it really paid off. We have already lifted a trophy, but we aren't done. I think the best is still yet to come for this group."
Kan played a vital role for the Tigers this season as it was her all-around game that helped her earn the Freshman of the Year distinction. A six-rotation passer, the 5-9 Kan was also one of the league's top hitters as she finished the year with a .360 attack clip, the top mark among left-side SEC hitters in league play. Not only that, but in SEC play she was the only player to average 3.00 kills per set and 3.00 digs per set. She also led the team in service receptions and converted 96-percent of those chances. Additionally, her passing kept Mizzou in system all season as the Tigers converted 48-percent of her first-ball touches into kills this season. She is the first Tiger to take home league Freshman of the Year honors since Jessica Vander Kooi in 2003
"When I came to Mizzou in the fall, I was just hoping I would see time on the floor, so to earn this award means a lot," Kan said. "Winning awards like this is easy when you have great examples to follow like Molly and Lisa. Every day they bring their best in practice and so much of this award is due to them. Also, the coaches have made my transition from high school to college so easy. It's like a family here at Mizzou and I am just excited to have the chance to continue to play this season - it's been so much fun."
When looking at the 34-0 mark, the 18-0 league record and the SEC Championship, it is clear to see why Wayne Kreklow was named SEC Coach of the Year. But when you analyze the numbers, it is even easier to see why he will be considered one of the top candidates for national coach of the year. Kreklow took a team that went 19-12 and just 10-10 in league play to one of the biggest turn-arounds in college volleyball, even with three true freshmen in his starting lineup. The team's efficiency was through the roof as the team sided out at nearly a 63-percent clip. Additionally, Mizzou scored nearly 20 of 25 points per set (19.56) while committing a national-low 3.52 attack errors per set. The team reset schools records in wins (NCAA-Tournament era), conference wins, wins to open a season, wins away from home, consecutive wins, consecutive sweeps and won the school's first-ever SEC Championship. Susan Kreklow, now the Director of Volleyball at Mizzou, was the last volleyball coach at Mizzou to earn Conference Coach of the Year Honors, doing so in 2000, the Kreklow's first season at Mizzou.
Henning has now landed on the All-SEC Team for the second consecutive season and was sensational in her senior year. The two-time All-American finished the regular season with 472 kills, doing so on a career-best .339 hitting. She was named SEC Player of the Week three times and was an All-SEC Preseason pick as well. Little earns All-SEC honors for the second consecutive year as well after landing on the second team a year ago. Little was the league's second-most efficient hitter at .473 and will likely reset several Mizzou blocking records in the NCAA Tournament.
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