FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Mizzou volleyball team pushed its national-best record to 17-0 with a 3-1 (25-18, 20-25, 25-14, 25-20) win at Arkansas in front of a nationally-televised ESPNU audience on Wednesday night (Oct. 2). Senior All-American Lisa Henning (Blue Springs, Mo.) played up to her billing with a season-high 24 kills on .345 hitting with three blocks and 10 digs, good for her fourth double-double of the season. The win improves the Tigers to 17-0 and 2-0 in SEC play for the second consecutive season as they remain as one of four unbeaten teams nationally.
“Any time you go on the road, you know it’s going to be a battle and that’s exactly what that was tonight,” head coach Wayne Kreklow said. “That is a very good Arkansas team and we did a nice job in a lot of areas which is why we got the win. What we do in practice every day really helped us in a lot of the long rallies that we had tonight and that says a lot about the quality of players we have on the practice floor every day.”
Although Henning supplied much of the offense, junior Emily Wilson (Omaha, Neb.) pitched in nine kills on .318 hitting and junior All-SEC middle Whitney Little (Keller, Texas) added eight kills on .350 hitting while pitching in a match-high five blocks. Senior setter Molly Kreklow (Delano, Minn.) was sensational as well with 47 assists and 10 digs with two kills, good for her sixth double-double of the season. Freshman Carly Kan (Honolulu, Hawaii) added six kills and freshman Julia Towler (Blue Springs, Mo.) came off the bench to add five kills. Junior libero Sarah Meister (San Diego, Calif.) finished with a match-high 17 digs.
The Tigers overcame their worst hitting percentage of the season (.270) with a great defensive performance, highlighted by a season-high 62 digs as four players finished with double-figure digs, led by Meister’s 17. Despite the Tigers’ struggles hitting at times, they still hit .353 in set one and .371 in set four, both of which were wins for Mizzou.
The Tigers were uncharacteristically slow on offense to open the first frame, but used good defensive play to open a 10-8 lead as Henning tallied four kills in that span, forcing a timeout from the Razorbacks. Out of the timeout, Mizzou ran its lead to 13-9 after a kill from Wilson but Arkansas rallied back with three straight to force a Tiger timeout at 13-12. Out of the timeout, it was the Little show as she tallied a big solo stuff followed by back-to-back kills to run Mizzou’s lead to 17-13. That seemed to spark the offense as it wound up hitting .353 with 17 kills in the first, claiming the opening frame, 25-18. Henning led Mizzou with six kills in the first.
Arkansas controlled play and opened an 11-5 lead in the second set before a 4-0 run put Mizzou back into the set. But the Razorbacks countered with a 4-0 run of their own and opened the six-point lead back up and in fact opened its largest lead of the set at 17-9. The Tigers battled back to keep things close, but ultimately dug themselves too big of a hole as Arkansas claimed the second set, 25-20. The Tigers hit just .150 in the set and had an uncharacteristic 11 errors through two sets as they came into the match averaging a national-low 2.92. The set loss marked the first for the Tigers since Sept. 6 at Yale, snapping a streak of 33 consecutive sets without a loss.
Arkansas carried its momentum from the set-two win and opened a 4-1 lead in the third, but the Tiger offense came alive to and after kills from Wilson and Henning, the Tigers were on top 12-8, forcing a Razorback timeout. The Tigers extended their lead to 16-10 on a Kreklow dump and Mizzou scored nine of the last 13 points to win the set, 25-14, on a set-clinching kill by Henning off of a great transition back-set by Kreklow.
Arkansas used its stellar defensive play to open a 10-7 lead in the fourth. The Tigers then went on an 8-4 run to take a 15-14 lead and things stayed close from there until Mizzou pulled away with an offensive outburst, 25-20. In all, the Tigers had just six attack errors in the final two sets, down from their 11 in through the first two.
The Tigers face another stiff test at home Friday against Auburn at 6:30 p.m.