Get to know your own NCAA Volleyball Team: Missouri

Bill Carter

May as well put our own team through the same paces we put the three Regional visitors through to see how we measure up

To complete the level-setting on the eve of the NCAA Volleyball Championships kicking off the Regional round at The Hearnes Center this weekend, To get you caught up on all the words from earlier in the week, here are the three other team previews.

So....what about those Tigers?

About the Tigers: 34-0. What else do you need to know? :-) As of the final, regular season poll, the Tigers remained in 4th in the AVCA Coach's poll, and were also 4th in the RPI. By the way, props to UCLA Head Coach Mike Sealy, who gave the Tigers their first ever first-place vote

Out of Conference: I will be honest. I wrote about three sentences about how our OOC was lacking and then started to pull the RPI ranking of each of the 16 teams. Upon doing so, I deleted what I had written. Was Missouri's non-con schedule at a national level? It was not. But was it as bad as I thought it was? It was not. Yes, the average RPI of our non-con teams was 126. However, we did beat six teams with RPI's of 84 or better (Yale being the best at 39). Yes, playing 7 teams above RPI 149 hurts quite a bit, but I was surprised to see where Yale, Colgate (52), NC State (58) and Seton Hall (79) ended up.

In Conference: Like Central Arkansas, there is not much to say here. 18-0 is 18-0. It had never been done in the history of the SEC (which surprised me given how strong Florida has been). The dropped a total six GAMES in conference, and have won the last 17 in a row since dropping the 2nd game to Alabama 26-24 in Tuscaloosa. And while the SEC is not as top-heavy as the Big 10 or Pac-12, it does boast 8 teams inside the top-36 of the RPI (though that is a bit back-loaded with LSU, aTm, UGA, Alabama and Arkansas taking up residence at 30, 31, 32, 34 and 36 respectively). But Florida (3) and Kentucky (10) took a total of one game from the Tigers in the combined 13 they played. Domination.

The Roster: Here are some nuggets on the nine Tigers who typically see action:
  • Lisa Henning (6'1 Senior - Outside Hitter) - Leads the Tigers in kills and kills/set on a .339 hitting percentage (which is only good enough for 5th among the ten). 4th on the team in aces (26) and solid on the dig (4th in digs and digs/set). 3rd in block assist (72) and Block/set. Started every match
  • Carly Kan (5'9 Frosh - Defensive Specialist) - Yes...listed as a Defensive Specialist. Kan (the SEC Freshman of the Year) was 2nd on the team in kills and kills/set on a .360 hitting percentage. Tied for second in aces (34) and received the 2nd most serves defensively with the highest receipt average (.960). At 5'9, she still contributed 40 block assist and had the second-most digs and digs/set. Started every match
  • Emily Wilson (6'2 Junior - Outside Hitter) - Has the unmitigated gall to be hitting only .312 for the season with the third-most kills on the team. Not sure why SEC Coach of the Year Wayne Kreklow keeps trucking her out there /sarcasm
  • Whitney Little (6'3 Junior - Middle Blocker) - Leads the team in hitting percentage at .473 with the 4th most kills/set. Is our leader in the middle with a team high in solo blocks (39), block assists (91) and total blocks (130)
  • Emily Thater (6'3 Frosh - Middle Blocker) - Has the third-highest hitting percentage at .397 and is second in all blocking stats (17-75-92). Started every match
  • Molly Kreklow (6'0 Senior - Setter) - Kreklow was the SEC Player of the Year and is certainly going to be considered for some national awards. Averages 12.65 assists per set. Leads the team in aces with 35. Is third on the team in digs and digs/set. Was active in the block as well with 62 block assists. Started every match
  • Julia Tower (6'2 Frosh - Middle Blocker) - Played in 30 matches this year, including one start when Whitney Little was hurt. Hit .407 in that action and also tied for third most solo blocks with 8
  • Sarah Meister (5'9 Junior - Defensive Specialist) - The main digger for the Tigers in the back, averaging a team high 3.99/set. Also the primary receiver of service (though just barely over Kan) and received at a .958 clip
  • Loxley Keala (5'11 Frosh - Setter) - Not playing there this season (obviously), but has started 27 of 34 matches and played in all of them. 4th on the team in aces (24) with only 23 service errors and has the highest service percentage (.948) of any normal server. Received the opposition serve the third-most on the team at a .939 rate
Stats of Note: Where to begin? Mizzou led the nation (as a team) in three major offensive categories:
  • Assists per Set: 14.55
  • Kills per Set: 15.30
  • Hitting Percentage: .362'
The team was also 26th in the nation in aces/set and 30th in blocks/set. Individually, Kreklow led the nation in assists/set and LIttle came up 1 spot short of doing the same in hitting percentage. She was joined by Kan (52nd) and Henning (94th) in that category (not sure the minimum, but it obviously eliminated Thater). Henning is 18th in points/set and 27th in kills/set.

Notes of Note: The only thing I could come up with worth noting was the lack of sophomores in the lineup above. Lydia Ely (6'6 Middle Blocker) and Regan Peltier (6'2 Outside Hitter/Middle Blocker) both saw minimal action this year. With the graduation of Henning, I would imagine Peltier will get a chance to see more in the years to come.

Prediction: I am going to stay away from making a long-term prediction about how I think we might fare in the entire tournament and stick to this weekend only. In fact, if you have read two of the three previews (IUPUI and Purdue), you already know what I think may happen. I believe we sweep IUPUI and beat Purdue in a tough, 4-game match. That would be good enough to move us to the Illinois Super Regional, where Illinois and Florida may be waiting for us. If that comes to pass, I will fire up another round of previews next week. Keep me busy ladies!

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