After claiming a share of the North Texas Invitational Tournament Championship last weekend, Mizzou volleyball (rv) will return home to the Hearnes Center for the annual Tiger Invitational. The Tigers will play host to a tough tournament field that includes Lipscomb, Illinois State, Oakland and Xavier.
After going 4-0 en-route to a Tiger Invitational Championship in 2013, Mizzou is now 35-3 all-time in the Tiger Invite and has won six of the last seven tournaments. Mizzou has never finished lower than second in the Tiger Invite, which is being held for the 11th time in history this weekend.
After one weekend of play, despite having a pair of new setters and running a 6-2 offense, Mizzou leads the SEC in team hitting percentage at .276, just ahead of Florida which checks in at .267. Senior All-American Whitney Little is second in the SEC with her .511 attack clip.
Wayne and Susan Kreklow head into the weekend having won a combined 299 matches in their time at Mizzou as they need just one win to break the 300-mark. The pair has won 67-percent of their matches while at Mizzou.
Wayne Kreklow has a 188-99 overall record since moving to the head coach role in 2005. Susan Kreklow was 109-46 from 2000-04 and is the winningest coach (percentage) in program history.
Scouting the Weekend Competition
Lipscomb: Mizzou last met the feisty Lipscomb team in 2012, a 3-0 Mizzou win in Nashville, but this year's Lipscomb team comes into the weekend with plenty of confidence after defeating No. 22 Kansas in Lawrence last weekend. Getting votes in this week's AVCA Top-25 poll, the Bison are 2-1 on the season and led by reigning Atlantic Sun Player of the Week Brittany Estes, who tallied a triple-double against No. 23 Creighton last week along with a double-double against KU.
Illinois State: Illinois State comes into the Mizzou Tiger Invitational with an overall record of 2-1 after competing in the University of Oregon Tournament. Ashley Rosch dominates the team's attack by averaging 3.79 kills per set. Following behind her, only two other Redbirds average 2.0 kills per set or better. On defense, the team averages 2.2 blocks per set with Emily Schneider averaging 1.21 blocks per set herself.
Oakland: Oakland comes into the Mizzou Tiger Invitational at 2-2 overall upon completion of the Western Michigan Tournament. Three Grizzlies dominate the attack with over 2.00 kills per set, and Melissa Deatsch leads the team with an average of 2.81 kills per set. On defense, the team averages 1.7 blocks per set with Jessica Dood averaging .88 blocks per set. The Grizzlies finished the last season with a record of 15-15.
Xavier: Xavier enters Friday's match with an undefeated record at 3-0 after winning the Queen City Invitational in Cincinnati for the start of the season. Abbey Bessler has been a vital player to the Musketeers with an average of 3.25 kills per set and over 121 total attacks. Makayla Agin has also done some damage for the Musketeers as she too averages over 3.00 kills per set. The team hits .263 collectively and limits their opponent to only .175. Xavier pulls in 14.5 digs per set and an average of 2.0 blocks on defense.
Lipscomb's résumé bears similarities to that of Northwestern State, which returned every starter from last year's 21-win squad that didn't make the NCAA Tournament. Northwestern State swept then-No. 15 Missouri on Saturday.
"We definitely got a rude awakening with that," MU sophomore middle blocker Emily Thater said, "and I think that really taught us a really good lesson about underestimating teams and respecting all your opponents."
"We can't really play in fear of" losing to a midmajor "but just play with the knowledge that that can happen. That did happen. Let's do what we can to not let it happen," Thater said.
"I think losing early was kind of a blessing in disguise," senior middle blocker Whitney Little said. "Last season was awesome, going undefeated, but that's not something that happens all the time. I think that we really used our loss in a good way, and I think it really showed by beating UNT."
September 5th vs. Lipscomb
Players to keep an eye on
Jewell Dobson (Senior Middle Blocker)
After a solid first two years at Lipscomb (470 kills/2.89 Kills/Set combined), Dobson had a career year for the Bisons in 2013, racking up a career-high 507 kills on .378 hitting percentage, good for top three in the Atlantic Sun. The All-America returns for her senior year with hopes to capture her second A-Sun title after losing in the championship game the past two years.
Lauren Ford (Senior Outside Hitter)
Like Dobson, Ford has been a consistent offensive threat since she arrived at Lipscomb in 2011. She and Dobson have already left their marks on the volleyball program, as they are two of seven players in program history to eclipse 1,000 career kills. If Ford can IMPROVE her accuracy this year, she and Dobson could be the best 1-2 punch in the conference in 2014.
Bri McCombs (Senior Libero/Defensive Specialist)
On the defensive side of the court, Bri McCombs led the Bison in 2013 with 469 digs (4.23/per set), leading the Atlantic Sun as well. She was also the team's most dominant server last year, with 28 service aces. If the 2013 A-Sun Libero of the Year can IMPROVE upon her 2013 numbers, she'll garner some national attention and guide the Bison back to the NCAA tournament.
Lipscomb is definitely a step up from the competition the Tigers will have faced at the North Texas Tournament the week before. The bison return three of the four all-conference members from the year before, and have made six of the past seven Atlantic Sun tournament championships (winning four of them). They haven't had much success against SEC opponents either, losing nine in a row to the conference, including a sweep by the Tigers in 2012. This should be win number ten for the SEC with the Tigers at home. Missouri 3, Lipscomb 0
I still do believe the Tigers pull off the win in their home opener this afternoon, but I think Lipscomb will give them more than they bargained for. I say Missouri wins 3-1 over the Bison.
Update: Lipscomb knocks off Mizzou in their home opener, 3-1.
September 5th vs. Illinois State
Players to keep an eye on
Kaitlyn Early (Senior Setter)
After sitting behind Kristin Stauter her first year at ISU, Early paced the Redbirds offense her Sophomore/Junior years with back-to-back 1,000-plus assist seasons. She also made an impact as a server, leading ISU with 34 service aces, .29 per set. One more big season could help push the Redbirds further up the Missouri Valley Ladder.
Ashley Rosch (Junior Outside Hitter)
Not many freshman made the impact like Ashley Rosch did her first year in Normal: She led the team in Kills, Points, and Kills/Set, was named MVC Freshman of the Year, and landed on the All-MVC First-Team at the end of the 2012 season. Rosch followed that up by improving on all of her numbers her Sophomore year, once again leading the team in the same three categories and was again named All-MVC First team. Accuracy is the one thing she needs to IMPROVE on for 2014, and if she can, she'll be a constant threat for all five sets.
Emily Orrick (Senior Defensive Specialist)
Orrick was a nice surprise defensively for the Redbird in 2013, the transfer from Lincoln Land Community College lead ISU with 572 digs and 4.85 digs/set, including four matches where she would eclipse 30 digs. The returning 2013 MVC Libero of the Year was the key in the Rebirds defense that held opponents to .153 hitting percentage last fall, best mark in the conference.
Defensively, this is one of the better teams Missouri will face over the weekend. Emily Orrick was a big part in keeping ISU in several sets last year with last-second digs to keep the play alive. The outside players for Missouri will be the key to success for the Tigers attack, if Emily Wilson and Carly Kan can force Orrick back on her heels in the middle, Missouri should be able to handle the Redbirds. Missouri 3, Illinois State 1
I'll hold to that 3-1 prediction, unless the Tigers offense plays out of their minds against the Cardinals Friday night.
Mizzou vs. Northwestern - Friday, 6:30 PM CT
Mizzou vs. UT-Martin - Sunday, 1 PM CT
- Missouri improved to 2-1-1 on the season with a pair of road wins against TCU (2-1 OT) and SMU (3-1) last weekend. - Friday marks Mizzou's first live event on SEC Network +.
- Redshirt senior keeper McKenzie added another Mizzou record to her resume last weekend, breaking the program's career wins record with 36. She also owns career records in saves, minutes played in goal, games played in goal and games started in goal.
- Senior Taylor Grant scored two more goals last weekend, both against TCU, to up her season total to four. Her single-season career best is five, set in last season. - Freshman Savannah Trujillo tallied two goals, the first two of her collegiate career, against SMU on Sunday.
- Head Coach Bryan Blitz sits at 198 career wins at Missouri, just two shy of 200. He is also just seven wins shy of 250 in his head coaching career.
- The 2014 Tigers are a family affair, with two pairs of sisters suiting up for Mizzou. Senior Kaysie Clark is joined on the pitch by her sister, freshman Kaitlyn, while freshman Jessica Johnson joins her sister Jessica on the squad.
- Mizzou owns a 4-3-1 all-time record against Northwestern. The Tigers are 2-2 in games played in Columbia and 4-0-1 in the last five meetings. The two teams last met on Sept. 5, 2010, in Evanston, Ill., in a match that ended in a 1-1 tie.
Northwestern enters Friday's matchup with a 3-1 record in its opening two weekends. The team earned wins over No. 15 Marquette (1-0), Illinois-Chicago (6-0) and Miami (Ohio) (3-1) and suffered a 1-0 loss to Farleigh Dickinson in the season opener.
Addie Steiner leads the Wildcats with six goals for 12 points. Four other players have also found the net this season: Niki Sebo, Kim Jerantowski, Grace Orndorff and Rachel Zampa.
In goal, Lauren Clem has played all but 21 minutes and owns a 0.53 goals against average and made four saves.
UT Martin is off to its best start in program history with a 3-0 record following wins over SLU (3-2 OT), Bethel (6-0) and Indiana State (3-0).
The Skyhawks swept the Ohio Valley Conference weekly awards this week with Ashlie Watson (offensive player), Lucy Pater (defensive player) and Mariah Klenke (goalkeeper) taking home honors.
Watson ranks second on the squad in both points (eight) and goals (three), behind Rianna Jarrett's four goals and 10 points.
Keeper Klenke owns a 0.66 goals against average and a .857 save percentage. She posted shutouts in UT Martin's last two contests.
Missouri 2, Northwestern 1
Missouri 2, UT-Martin 0