By Joyce Peng, KBIA Sports
Lack of confidence. Errors. These two things have plagued the Missouri volleyball team so far this season and prevented the team from winning close matches.
The Tigers lost to No. 8 Florida 3-0 (17-25, 19-25, 13-25) and South Carolina 3-1(25-18, 19-25, 23-25, 17-25) this weekend. They are now 13-11 overall and 4-5 in the Southeastern Conference.
The past two matches allowed players to be accountable for their own actions, Whitney Little said.
“Not really trying to blame others if something goes wrong, “ she said. “Like if we don’t win the play, then instead of being…that was a bat hit or a bad set or a bad pass; instead (we should be) thinking well, I could have covered or I could have called out where the hitters were.”
The South Carolina match painted a typical portrait of what the team has been facing with this year, coach Wayne Kreklow said.
“We got off to a great start, we played well, we played pretty much error free,” he said. “Then the second game we gave away a lot of points, they come back and win that one.”
The Tigers were hitting .458 against the Gamecocks .with 13 kills with four total errors in the first set. They made seven total errors in the second second, which Soutb Carolina also won. This happened despite the Tigers’ .333 hitting percentage in the second set.
The Tigers continued to make errors throughout the match, and finished the game with 13 service errors and 11 attack errors.
The South Carolina game showed another typical storyline of the team, besides the recurring theme of errors. The Tigers played strong the first set but faltered afterward.
Where should the team build back this confidence to continue playing strong? Little said the confidence is found internally in the players, and it shows in practice. But during games, that confidence disappears.
“I think that something we can work on as a team and individually of that is instead of treating a game like a game we can make a game as practice,“ Little said. “We’re definitely trying to do that for this weekend.”
The team will face Arkansas and Texas A&M for its next weekend matches. Arkansas, which is 11-11 overall, has two strong hitters: Meredith Hays and Chanell Clark-Bibbs. Hays leads the SEC in average kills and average points, while Clark-Bibbs is fourth in the SEC in hitting.
Texas A&M is a solid team that likes to play fast, Kreklow said. Its top outside hitters, Jazzmin Babers and Shelby Sullivan, are ranked second and third in hitting percentage, respectfully. Overall, the Aggies top of the SEC in hitting percentage and opponent hitting percentage. The team hits .262 and limits opponents to a .205 hitting percentage.
Missouri will see if it can limit errors and maintain its confidence against these two teams this weekend. It will face Arkansas 6:30 p.m. Friday and Texas A&M 3 p.m. Sunday.