Have I become spoiled by Mizzou Volleyball?
In my first year on campus in Columbia, I was graced with a 34-0 regular season, an SEC Championship, and two first team All-Americans for the 2013 season. They returned all but those two players for 2014, including Carly Kan, Whitney Little, and Emily Wilson. We expected a slight drop in success, but frankly, with the talent Mizzou has right now, I would classify this year as a disappointment.
The Tigers are currently 13-9 on the season with more than enough bad losses on their resume this year. Oakland, Lipscomb, Northwestern State, the list goes on. MU is hitting .242 compared the .356 mark from 2013, with attack errors weighing down the efficiency of the Missouri attack (428 errors this year, 3rd in SEC). Even in victory, there has been some head-scratching performances from this team. Take this past weekend for example. The Tigers took down Mississippi State 3-2 in Starkville. A Mississippi State team that is hitting .138 as a team this year. Maybe I'm easily frustrated, but this match should not have been close, but 32 attack errors and two sets where Mizzou hit sub-.150 kept the Bulldogs in the match for the full five sets. If it wasn't for a career performance from Regan Peltier (22 kills on .327 hitting), MU most likely loses to MSU.
Mizzou has avoided playing any ranked opponents so far this year, but now have three (Florida, Kentucky, Texas A&M) on the schedule for the final month of the season. Here's are the remaining games this year, along with my early picks for each match-up:
|10/24||at Florida||L 0-3|
|10/26||at South Carolina||L 1-3|
|10/31||vs. Arkansas||L 1-3|
|11/2||vs. Texas A&M||L 1-3|
|11/7||at Tennessee||W 3-1|
|11/9||at Kentucky||L 0-3|
|11/14||vs. Georgia||W 3-2|
|11/16||vs. Ole Miss||L 2-3|
|11/21||at LSU||L 1-3|
|11/23||at Texas A&M||L 0-3|
|11/26||vs. Alabama||L 2-3|
Call it being pessimistic, or "Ye of little faith", but the schedule doesn't give me any hope that the Tigers finish better than .500 this season. The fact that three of those games against ranked foes are on the road, along with Mizzou's 3-4 record in true road games this year, is a bad sign to begin with. Florida, Kentucky, and Texas A&M are all likely NCAA tournament teams this year, and I don't Mizzou to be able to keep up with any of the three.
Yes, there are several games that Missouri has a chance to "steal", but as the case has been for this season, I'm putting very little confidence in Mizzou to win more than four games the rest of this year. I will say the one game you should be able to mark as a win is the 11/7 contest with Tennessee, a team that is currently 0-8 in SEC play (and could be 0-11 come this game vs. MU).
The rest of the season is pretty much a guessing game at this point. We've seen two different teams in 2014: an efficient, dominant offense in some games, while in others we are greeted with a sloppy, error-filled attack that kills any offense Mizzou has. The last time MU had a losing season in Volleyball was 2008, and I think we're starting to trend in that direction with the docket of games left for the 2014 Missouri Volleyball team this year.