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Net Results, 10-10-14: Volleyball looks to bounce back at home vs. Auburn

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After an 0-2 road trip last week, VolleyZou returns to the Hearnes Center looking for another SEC win

It's been a tough year for Mizzou Volleyball.

We're now past the halfway point of the 2014 season, and most of what we've seen from this team has been relatively disappointing. Sure, we didn't count on the 34-0 finish that we saw in 2013, but with so many players returning this year, contention in the SEC wasn't out of the question. You have Sarah Meister, Carly Kan, and Whitney Little all returning after putting up career numbers, but they haven't been enough to push the Tigers to many convincing victories this year.

The reigning SEC Champions currently sit at 11-7 (2-2 SEC), and are in the midst of a two-match losing streak after road losses to Ole Miss and Georgia last week. Mizzou returns home with a great chance to snap that streak and get back to its winning ways with Auburn paying a visit to the Hearnes Center tonight at 6:30.

Missouri is the better team offensively, holding advantages over AU in hitting percentage, kills, and kills/match. Carly Kan and Emily Wilson have powered this team with a combined 463 kills (50% of the team's kills), but a combined 163 errors have kept either from being as efficient as one would hope. Auburn's offense is averaging 24.1 errors per match, leading to a .174 attack for the team, so if it comes down to who can score more, I would give the advantage to MU.

However, Auburn's defense has been a pleasant surprise for the Tigers this season, holding opponents to a .171 mark this year, good for second-best in conference behind South Carolina. Junior Libero Alyssa Ivey has lead the way with a team-leading 223 digs in 2014, for an average of 12.23 per set. Pretty good for a setter-turned-Libero.

Mizzou currently sits at 7th in the SEC, which will make picking most of the matches against middle of the road teams, like Auburn, difficult to decide. I checked out AU's schedule to see if there had been any common opponents with. Just two: Northwestern State and Georgia.

A comparison of the stats between AU/MU and their matches with NWSU/UGA:

Auburn vs. Kills Errors Hitting % Opp. Hitting %
Northwestern State 64 37 .129 .197
Georgia 50 24 .183 .000
Mizzou vs. Kills Errors Hitting % Opp. Hitting %
Northwestern State 38 22 .155 .321
Georgia 50 23 .213 .272

Looking at the stats, Auburn should've lost to Northwestern State. The Lady Demons were up 10-6 in the fifth set (which goes to 15 rather than the normal 25), before the Tigers reeled off nine straight points to take the victory. NWSU outdid AU on almost every statistic, but fell short in the end at Auburn. It's worth noting that this loss put Northwestern State at 3-10 (4-1 since Southland play started), and one of those three wins was a sweep of then-No. 15 Mizzou.

Against the Bulldogs, there was improvement in the AU attack, but errors still slowed the Tigers down in the long run. However, not to discredit Auburn, this match was mostly Georgia shooting themselves in the foot. I mean, 34 attack errors and 34 kills? No way you can win playing like that.

The loss to Northwestern State really defines what kind of season this has been for Missouri Volleyball. I understand NWSU was a set away from winning their conference, but it really hurts when the defending SEC Champion is swept by a team from the Southland. Hell, Mississippi State beat Northwestern State. The Bulldogs (5-15) have lost seven matches in a row and are hitting .138 as a team. All respect to the Lady Demons, they played great, any team that hits .300-plus deserves to win the match.

As for Georgia, it was an instance of getting outplayed. The Bulldogs attack played a damn good final three sets in route to a 3-1 victory for UGA, hitting .340-plus in each of the last three. Mizzou's attack errors piled up late, committing 19 of their 23 attack errors in the last three sets. Clean up those mistakes and MU most likely takes home a win from Athens.

Realistically, this is a match that Missouri should win. I've caught myself saying that too much this year, but most matches have been ones they should've won. There are more than enough bad losses on the schedule, so it's necessary that the Tigers win these matches against middle-of-the-road teams if they hope for a strong finish. Auburn's defense has kept AU above water so far in SEC play, but Carly Kan has been accumulating a lot of kills in her second year on campus. I would expect Ali Kreklow/Loxley Keala to continue feeding her in Friday's match. Offense should win out tonight. Mizzou 3, Auburn 2