Story by Joyce Peng, KBIA Sports
Photos by Tim Leible, KBIA Sports
Emily Thater (2) winds up for a spike as coach Wayne Kreklow and the Missouri bench watches during Missouri’s matchup against Saint Louis University on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, at the Hearnes Center in Columbia, Missouri. Thater had 11 kills and led the team with a hitting percentage of .333.
Missouri’s inconsistencies in maintaining runs and winning sets in Tuesday’s night game against Saint Louis University paints an accurate picture of their fickle season so far.
The Tigers lost to the Saint Louis Billikens 3-2 (25-27, 25-23, 22-25, 25-19, 11-15) at the Hearnes Center. They are now 4-4 for the season.
Similar to the past six games, the Tigers failed to win the first set, despite an early 17-10 score. The Billikens climbed
back from that deficit with a 14-7 run to tie the match at 24 and went on to close out the set. The Tigers made eight attack errors and hit a low .086 hitting percentage.
Outside hitter Carly Kan had six kills in the second set, including ones to the left back corner and back court. The Tigers were trailing most of the third set, with small runs of three and four points, but could not maintain the offensive streaks to tie or take the lead.
The inconsistencies continued into the fourth set but the Tigers were able to win, with a solid team hitting percentage of .355. The set saw two lead changes and 10 tied scores. Missouri had two 3-0 runs in the fifth set, including three kills from senior outside hitter Emily Wilson, but failed to stop a pressuring Billiken offense from taking the game.
Coach Wayne Kreklow said the team gave Saint Louis too many points. He said this inconsistency is typical of the team right now, and attributed the irregularities to critical mental mistakes shared across the team.
“Somebody forgets (to) be were they are suppose to be, somebody forgets to rotates where they’re suppose to be and inevitably the ball finds them,” Kreklow said. “What tends to happen is we give the other team another swing, we don’t get one, because we’re not in the right place, and we give them another swing and after two or three of those eventually they put the ball away.”
He said the team served an average game, not taking advantage of opportunities to serve tough. He said that if they are passing and serving well, it means that they are playing well. If not, that means they are not doing well, so serving and passing are indicators of how well the team is performing.
Kan said focusing on first-ball passing could improve the team’s offense.
“The first touch of any point, that’s the most important touch,” Kan said. “You can’t hit unless you get that first good pass.”
The team’s pattern of losing the first set could be fixed by going into games with the mindset of trailing by two sets, Kan said.
Missouri will see if it can stay in synch in the upcoming Idaho Invitational. Thursday the Tigers are scheduled to face Idaho at Moscow, Idaho, and play a double header with Boise State and Portland on Friday. They will end the tournament playing Eastern Washington on Saturday.