By Joyce Peng, KBIA Sport
Missouri faced a challenging Lipscomb team in its season home opener Friday afternoon at the Hearnes Center.
The Tigers lost their first match in the Tiger Invitational to the Lipscomb Bisons, 3-1 (21-25, 25-20, 20-25, 23-25). They are 2-2 overall this season.
After a strong performance in the second set to tie the match, the Tigers did not come out ready to go in the third set, according to coach Wayne Kreklow.
“We lost the match in game three,” Kreklow said. “We made a lot of mistakes that we shouldn’t have made, let them back in, and once you let a team like that go, it’s hard to stop.”
The Tigers went back and forth with the Bisons early in the third set. With the home team up 11-8, the Bisons pulled away with an 8-0 run. They maintained a sizable lead till the end of the set, despite the Tigers lurking close by cutting the lead to a three-point margin on several occasions.
Missouri had nine kills and a .238 hitting percentage in the third set, committing four attack errors and three service errors. The team missed an opportunity to take the set and the lead in the match after Jewell Dobson, one of Lipscomb’s top hitters, suffered an injury towards the end of the second set.
The Tigers’ play was inconsistent, struggling offensively in the first and third sets while playing well in the second and fourth.
In the second set the Tigers started off on a 10-1 run with kills by multiple players including Emily Thater, Regan Peltier and Whitney Little.
Kreklow thought the team served well in the second set.
“We served more consistently, kept them off balance a little bit, which helped.” Kreklow said.
In the fourth set, he said the team did not serve well enough to keep the other team off its game plan.
“We tried to go short, we didn’t go short and we kept serving to the middle of the court, easy balls.”
Kreklow said going forward the squad must play more consistently and improve mentally to be dialed into the game for extended periods.
“It’s a lot harder to change the mental part,” Kreklow said. “The only thing you can really do is just keep focusing on practice. Running drills where you got multiple balls, putting the pressure on them and forcing them to have to think for longer periods of time.”
The departure of Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning also means a loss of leadership on the court, and Kreklow said it would take time to find someone with that same guidance.
He also said the team has to work on hitting towards the right side more often and avoiding predictability. Against Lipscomb, the hitters often targeted the ball towards the left and middle.
Missouri finished the match with a .261 hitting percentage, with 47 kills, 51 digs and 11 total team blocks. Carly Kan had a double-double with 13 kills and 10 digs. Peltier had .545 hitting percentage, with seven kills, while Little racked up eight kills on an .357 hitting percentage.