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Missouri Volleyball: 31 and oh, what a weekend

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The Tigers push ever closer to their first SEC title and a potential No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Mizzou Network

So while there has certainly been some talk about the weekend which was for the Mizzou Volleyball team, I wanted to make a centralized area for all the news stories and discussion about what is now ahead for the Tigers. Before we get to the ahead, let's take a look at the behind....yep...knew I wrote this and decided to leave it anyway.

1. Friday Night vs. #5 Florida Sweep Boxscore of sweep Play-by-play of sweep
Missourian: Sweep
Tribune: Sweep
KC Star: Sweep
GatorZone: Swept

First off, thanks to Fox Sports (Midwest) for making the choice to pick up the match for regional broadcast.  Mediacom had already done the same for all remaining home matches, but it is great to bring as much exposure as possible for this special team and season.

The numbers on this match show just how close the 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 score says it was.  The Tigers outhit the Gators .337-.291, but the Gators actually had two more kills (49-47).  The Tigers had only 4 team blocks on the evening, to six for the Gators.  The difference in the match appeared to be on the dig, where the Tigers had 46 to 34 for the Gators, keeping points alive.  The serve was also a difference, but while the Tigers had only one ace and four errors, the Gators had the same, but ELEVEN service errors.  Seven points...when they lost 25-22, 25-23, 25-23.

Each set had tremendous drama, staged in front of a record crowd of over 5,000 in the O-Dome. In the first, the biggest lead UF had was three at 13-10, but they lead 22-20 when Mizzou sided out.  An attack error, a kill by LIsa Henning, an ace by Emily Thater and a kill from Henning, and Mizzou had a five point run to win 25-22.  In the second, the Tigers got out early, leading by five at 10-5, by four at 17-13 and by three at 19-16.  But the Gators got the set tied by 21-21 and, after some back and forth, saw it tied at 23-23.  But an attack error would give MU the sideout and 24-23 lead before a kill by Henning would give the Tigers the set win at 25-23 and the match lead at 2-0.  Coming out of the intermission, the Gators came flying out, scoring the first five points.  All the Tigers did was win the next five to get it back even, but the Gators held the lead for much of the set.  Leading by four at 16-12 and by three at 21-18, it looked like we may be headed to a fourth.  However, the Tigers had another five-point run to take a 23-21 lead.  The Gators came right back to tie it at 23, but back-to-back kills by Henning (the last on a tremendous rally) gave MU the set and the win.

MU rode their senior hitter, as Henning had 17 kills on .500 hitting.  Frosh Carly Kan was off a bit in this match with only 2 kills (and 4 errors) on 17 attacks, but Emily Wilson (8 kills), Thater (7 kills) and Molly Kreklow (7 kills) made up the difference.  Can was important in the back, as she and Sarah Meister had 12 digs each, and Kreklow kicked in 10 of her own.

With the win, here are some fun items of note:

  • MU became the first team in SEC history to beat UF in both matches in a season

  • MU is the first team in SEC history to win a match at UF in straight sets

  • It is only the 6th home loss in the SEC in UF's history

  • It is MU's first 30-win season since 1978

2. Sunday Afternoon vs. South Carolina Tigers Dominate Gamecocks Boxscore Play-by-play
Missourian: The Rout is On
Misourinet: No Let Down
KC Star: One Win Away
ColaDaily: USC Volleyball Falls

Needless to say, at 25-13, 25-13, 25-16, the Tigers (31-0, 15-0) did not have a repeat of the action on Friday against the Gamecocks (12-16, 3-12).  In front of less than 800 people, the Tigers had the occasion to play a number of folks beyond the normal starters.  The Tigers hit a blistering .591 in the first set, and even though they brought in a number of people off the bench, still ended up hitting .466 for the match.  Henning and Whitney Little led the way in kills with seven a piece, then Kan with six, Thater and Wilson with five and Julia Tower with four.  Nice to also see Lydia Ely and Regan Peltier get into the action with two kills each.  Of impressive note, the Tigers sided out at an 88 percent clip for the match.  Only six times in the match did the Gamecocks string together back-to-back, and only once did they have a three-point run.

3. What's Left?

Here are your updated standings at the top of the SEC:

  • Mizzou: 15-0
  • Florida: 13-2
  • Kentucky: 12-3

What does this mean?  It means that with a win against Mississippi State at home on Friday night (at 6:30 p.m.), the Tigers will clinch the SEC.  MSU is currently 11-17, 2-12.  It is that plain and simple.  Even though the Tigers still play Kentucky (on the road) on Sunday and Florida/UK still have another match against one another, the Tigers simply need to win at home.  I feel confident in predicting the Tigers will take down the Bulldogs, even though the two have not played.

So what about after the final three matches (the last is at home on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving against Arkansas 14-12/7-8)?  Well, for starters, there is no SEC Tournament in Volleyball, so the NCAA Tourney will be selected on Sunday, December 1st at 8:30 p.m. (central) on ESPNU.  Though it is not absolutely for sure, one has to assume the Tigers have done enough (both in play and home attendance) to deserve to host the first and second rounds, to be contested on December 5th-7th.  Should they continue on, Sweet 16 sites have been predetermined, and will be hosted by USC (Trojans), Kentucky, Illinois and Nebraska on December 13-14.  The Championship rounds will be contested in Key Arena in Seattle, Washington on December 19th and 21st. But will the Tigers get a #1 seed?

4. Poll/Votes/Reaction

AVCA Poll (Previous poll HERE)
Link to Voting Breakdown (Previous voting breakdown HERE)
RPI (To be updated later this afternoon)

4th place.  That is actually a little better than I thought might happen, but our win over Florida, coupled with USC's loss to UW (and our jumping Stanford) got us up 3 spots. In terms of voting breakdown, we are (still) not receiving any votes higher than 4th, but now are receiving 28 of 60 votes (or 53 known in this poll) at 4th place.  The top three (Texas, Penn State and UW are receiving all first place votes). We still have someone voting us 11th and someone else voting us 9th.  Only one voter still has Florida ahead of us.

We will have to wait and see about the RPI until later this afternoon, but as we were 6th last week and Florida/USC were 4/5, I think we can safely expect to move up to 4th there.  A win over Kentucky will be one last solid win, but I think we are going to need some additional help to climb any higher at this point in either poll.

Would we receive a #1 seed if we are sitting at 4 in both polls? I actually doubt it just a little, given how much Volleyball seems to hold to their bluebloods.  I think we would need to ascend to 3 to have a good shot at not getting jumped in seed.  However, trust that I say this with absolutely no actual knowledge of how this has worked in the past. :-)

To sum up...congrats ladies.  You continue to earn national attention and respect and I can only hope people in Columbia or nearby are able to come out and pay you the homage due on Friday night as you look to wrap up our school's first SEC Championship.