Mizzou won the first set on a well-balanced offensive attack that hit .478 with 13 kills on just 23 attacks. Keala, Peltier and Wilson each tallied three kills while Kan added a pair. Mississippi Valley State hit -.174 in the first set. Mizzou scored the first 11 points of the set and led by as many as 18 in the set (21-3).
The second set began much like the first as Mizzou scored the first six points before MVSU got on the board. The Devillettes got as close as 19-11, but Mizzou scored the final six points of the frame to win, 25-11. Set three was a little closer as MVSU hung tough, but Mizzou's offense was too much as it pulled away for a 25-17 set win, clinching the match.
After leading the nation in hitting percentage a year ago, Mizzou picked up right where it left off, hitting .468 in the win. Senior Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) led Mizzou with 10 kills on .500 hitting while classmate Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) added eight kills on .571 hitting. Junior Regan Peltier (Nixa, Mo.) added eight kills on .615 hitting without an error, doing so all in the first two sets. Sophomore Loxley Keala (Kaneohe, Hawaii) added 20 assists, four kills, a pair of aces and three digs and freshman Ali Kreklow (Columbia, Mo.) added 13 assists.
"It's nice to have the first match under our belt," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "You can always tell when the team is ready to get out and play a real opponent and I thought we came in today ready to go and played with a lot of good energy. It was nice to see us play against another team so we can identify things we do well and what we need to improve. We have a tough day tomorrow so we need to recover from this and come back ready to play two good teams tomorrow."
Pretty straightforward match, Missouri dominated MVSU as I expected they would. The attack was spread out well and the defense kept MVSU from even getting close in any of the sets. The thing I'm interested to see out of this is Ali Kreklow and Loxley Keala splitting time at Setter. It worked well against Mississippi Valley State, but how effective can it be against a team like Florida or Kentucky.
In set one, Mizzou opened a 6-4 lead after a kill on a slide from Little, but Northwestern State ran off five consecutive points - four coming on Tiger attack errors - forcing a timeout from Wayne Kreklow. Wilson ended the run with a kill but Northwestern State kept its lead, despite the fact that Mizzou got as close as 19-18 after a kill from Kan. But the Lady Demons scored six of the next seven points to win the first set, 25-19.
Set two stayed close until a 3-0 run gave the Lady Demons a 14-11 lead midway through the set. Once again, that small run was all Northwestern State needed despite Mizzou pulling as close as 19-18 for the second consecutive set. Back-to-back blocks gave the Lady Demons a 22-19 lead. They scored the last three points and won the second, 25-19.
Mizzou ran out to a 3-0 lead in set three but Northwestern State rallied again midway through the set and opened a 16-12 lead, forcing a timeout from coach Kreklow. The run again was all the Lady Demons needed to clinch the match in the third set.
Sophomore All-American Carly Kan (Honolulu, Hawaii) led Mizzou with 15 kills and senior All-American Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) added eight kills on .636 hitting. Mizzou struggled to slow the Lady Demons, who hit .321 and only committed 12 attack errors. Mizzou, conversely, had 22 and hit just .155.
"This was a tough one for us today," head coach Wayne Kreklow said. "We have to give credit to Northwestern State, they came out and played really well and we weren't ready to go. The challenge now is how we come back against North Texas tonight in what we know will be a hostile environment."
This was unexpected to say the least.
The Lady Demons came out hot and couldn't be stopped on offense, and Missouri was playing catch up for most of the match. The loss snapped the Tigers 35-game regular season winning streak and was their first non conference loss since 2012.
Mizzou fell behind early in the first set, 6-2, as it committed three early attack errors. Just as they did in the first match of the day vs. Northwestern State, the Tigers rallied but never drew even. A late push from the Mean Green helped them run away from the Tigers with a 25-17 set win. Mizzou had seven attack errors in the first set.
The Tigers returned to form in the second set thanks to an offensive onslaught that saw the team hit .483 with 16 kills and just two errors. Kan paced the Tigers with six kills in the set, needing only 10 swings as she helped Mizzou flip the script with a 25-17 set win of their own.
Mizzou was in control for much of the third set, leading by as many as eight, but a 12-4 North Texas run knotted the set at 22-all until a kill from Thater ended the run. The set went wild from there as Mizzou escaped with a 31-29 win after several wild rallies. Just to give a hint of how wild the set was, Mizzou won on a bump kill from Kan as she attempted to send a free ball after it struck the ceiling after a Wilson dig as she was playing back row because Mizzou was out of subs.
Despite winning the wild third set, it was North Texas who had momentum in set four as it opened an 11-6 lead behind the play of Carnae Dillard. Kan and Reuter tallied kills out of the timeout to cut the lead to three and North Texas called a timeout and responded with a three-point run of its own. That was all the cushion UNT needed to escape with the set win, 25-18, forcing a fifth set. The match was Mizzou's first five-setter since Nov. 23, 2012, against Alabama, a span of 38 matches. The fifth set was a back-and-forth affair, but Mizzou took a slim 8-7 advantage into the switch after Wilson's 11th kill. Mizzou pulled away by winning several long rallies and escaped with the 15-12 set win to clinch the match.
"I am proud of how our kids responded, not only to losing this afternoon but responding to getting beat pretty good in sets one and four," head coach Wayne Kreklow. "We showed a lot of poise down the stretch and a lot of mental toughness. To pull away the way we did in the wild third set was huge and we did a great job finishing tonight. It was a great team effort."
Overall, Missouri looked decent in their two wins at the North Texas Tournament. They dominated Mississippi Valley State, as expected, showcasing their powerful attack and defense on the Devillettes. Northwestern State was a wake up call for Coach Kreklow and the Tigers, after the offense did a 180 from the previous day and couldn't have any success against the Lady Demons. The Southland Conference runner ups held Mizzou under .200 while scoring at will, leaving some thoughts on how well the offense will fare come conference play. Finally, the Tigers did just enough to get by North Texas to end the tournament, thanks in part to wild third set that kept MU alive. It wasn't the most impressive of performances, but it does the job for the win. Weekend Grade: B-
Junior Reagan Russell sent a ball toward the middle of the pitch that freshman Jessica Johnson one-timed up the field. The pass found Grant, who raced into the box and unleashed an eight-yard rocket into the upper right netting for a 1-0 Tiger advantage.
The Tigers held their 1-0 edge until the 69th minute when the Horned Frogs finally got on the board. Junior Candace Johnson was whistled for a penalty kick on a TCU player after tough defending in the box. TCU's Jill Finnerty stepped up and put her attempt past Sauerwein for a 1-1 game.
With the match knotted at 1-1 in overtime, Grant received a ball in the box and dodged a defender. She tapped a shot toward net that lightly bounced off the RIGHT post and dribbled over the line to give Mizzou the win. TCU's keeper made a diving attempt to stop the ball but did not arrive in time.
I could talk about the game, but you would probably want to hear about it from someone who actually had the opportunity to be there, so I pass it off to Kevin Able (MIZ...TCU) for his own thoughts on the game.
1. Game Atmosphere- I hadn't been to a TCU soccer match in since joining the big 12, but the increased level of "production" from when they were in the MWC was pretty evident. Marketing was still bribing students to come out to the game with free pizza. It worked, probably 1/3 of the stands were students. The other 2/3rds were assorted TCU fans, with about 30-40 Mizzou fans, but there appeared to be a decent sized tailgate before the game.
2. Referees- They seemed to let a lot of stuff go in the first half, and Mizzou took advantage of that. Ref-hate from TCU fans was near football game levels pretty much throughout, save for the Johnson/Sauerwein yellows at 68' that lead to a PK and TCU's only goal. A lot of it was coming from the team parents sitting near me.
Speaking of Johnson and Sauerwein, I'm not sure Johnson's yellow was warranted (both players were battling 1 on 1 from about midfield), but it was at least due to aggressive defense. Sauerwein drew a yellow after some additional commentary that she probably should have kept to herself. No extra harm done, but you don't really wanting your Senior Keeper collecting those, especially with how well she's been playing.
3. And speaking of Referees:
@ChrisLTurner fans yelling "HANDBALL!" Is the soccer equivalent of FB fans yelling "HOLDING", no?— Kevin Able (@kevin_able) August 30, 2014
Mizzou NEARLY gave up a goal at the end of the 1st half, and by "nearly", I mean it would have been 1-0 at half if not for the offsides rule (See ref hate above)
4. CONTROVERSY! in OT as a number of TCU fans profanely disagreed with the scorer's description winning goal, where the "Ball just trickles over the line". The best way to describe it is "what would have happened in the USA vs Belgium match if Chris Wondolowski just sorta tapped the ball past the keeper at the end of stoppage time, instead of chipping it over the crossbar." It took everyone, including the referees, a second to realize the ball actually went in the goal. Heartbreaking for the TCU fan in me after seeing them fight back from a pretty listless start to the second half. Also, parents teaching their kids new words. That was ugly.
5. Taylor Grant continued to be the main offensive threat, and McKenzie Sauerwein stopped everything that came her way save for the PK, and she almost deflected that, too. Big weekend for the two DFW natives.
6. Disappointing lack of an SEC! Chant at the end, but some scattered MIZ...ZOU at the start and after Grant's first goal.
Less than nine minutes into the match Russell put Mizzou on the board with her first goal of the season. The junior passed up to senior Kaysie Clark on the RIGHT side of the box. Clark then played the ball back to Russell, stationed six-yards from net, who calmly one-timed the pass into the back of the net.
Just two minutes later, the Mustangs evened the score at 1-1 on a well-executed set piece. Taylor Barg lofted a corner into the box that Claire Oates headed over Sauerwein's head and into the back of the net.
Trujillo tallied her first career goal in the 51st minute on deft passing in SMU's defensive third. Clark sent a cross into the box that fell right at the feet of Trujillo, who easily tapped her shot past the Mustang keeper and into the net.
Trujillo was in the RIGHT place at the right time to give Mizzou an insurance goal in the 87th minute. Russell had a breakaway on goal but the SMU goalie knocked the ball away. Russell recovered to corral the loose ball and back-heeled a pass across the goalmouth to Trujillo, who one-timed the shot into the net.
The weekend overall was a success for the Tigers. Taylor Grant seems to have made the step up as the team's offensive leader and be the driving force of the Missouri attack for this season. McKenzie Sauerwein continues to be the best defender the Tigers have, with 15 saves through four games.
Mizzou returns home for the first time this season with matches against Northwestern and UT-Martin this Friday and Sunday.