By Joyce Peng, KBIA Sports
Libero Sarah Meister slammed the gym floor in frustration after the Missouri volleyball team lost another point in Friday’s match against the Georgia Bulldogs at the Hearnes Center.
Her frustration could summarize the struggles the Tigers had in the match. They lost 3-2 (25-19,25-27, 23-25, 25-27, 15-11), putting them 15-14 overall and 6-8 in SEC.
“This is one of the few matches this year that I can say I’m really disappointed in just about every facet of the game,” coach Wayne Kreklow said. “I didn’t think we came out ready to play…. Georgia just played smarter, more consistent with more poise than we do. “
The Tigers made 57 errors including 35 attack errors, two reception errors, eight service errors, seven blocking errors and five ball handling errors. Georgia only had 34 errors.
The team started off weak in the first set, trading leads with Georgia. Kasey Reuter, , provided most of the offense that the Tigers needed to stay close behind the Bulldogs by finishing with six kills. After the 12-12 mark, the Bulldogs picked up steam, maintaining a steady lead of six to seven runs to close out the set.
The Tigers committed nine attack errors and hit .114 in the first set, and seemed to act disjointed on the court. Before the Tigers timeout at the 14-12 mark, the players did not seem to have an offensive strategy, causing them to lose a point.
It was a battle of nice defensive plays in the second set, with both teams diving and running to save balls. The Tigers and the Bulldogs traded leads the entire set. Two kills by Emily Wilson lifted the Tigers to a 25-24 lead, and Whitney Little won the set for Missouri with a kill.
Missouri played its best in the third set, hitting .278 with 15 kills and a match-low of five attack errors. Although it did not dominate Georgia, the team held on to a slim lead throughout the latter portion of the set.
Julia Tower revitalized the team after coming into the game late in the first set. Of the first three sets, she had nine kills on .462 hitting. She had the final kill in the third set.
The Bulldogs went on a 5-0 run in the fourth set to stretch their lead to 17-11. From there, they remained dominate and forced a fifth set. The Bulldogs controlled the fifth set to grab the win, and warded off a late Tigers comeback.
The Tigers were also unable to overcome 18 Georgia team blocks. Kreklow said the team made bad decisions, like aiming the ball into Georgia blockers.
Kreklow said the team has to play smarter and eliminate tiny things such as off-balanced offense.
“We press them enough that we get an easy ball and then somebody’s not quite ready and we don’t get the ball to the setter,” Kreklow said. This limits the team of multiple offensive plays they could run.
The Tigers will see if they can perform at a higher level against Kentucky. The game will 3 p.m. Sunday.