Mizzou volleyball overcomes Ole Miss 3-2 on strong blocking, serving

By Joyce Peng, KBIA Sports

After Emily Wilson ended a long rally with a block in the fifth set against Ole Miss, the Missouri volleyball team jumped and yelled to celebrate.

The play increased their lead to 6-3, and Tigers would go on a 9-3 run to clinch the fifth set and the match against the Rebels.

The victory came after a tough loss on Friday against Georgia.

“After our loss on Friday, we’re like this is a chance to redeem ourselves so I think we just came out really fired up going in to the fifth,” Wilson said.

The Tigers won 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 23-25, 27-25, 15-6) against Ole Miss Friday afternoon at the Hearnes Center. The win puts them 16-14 overall and 7-8 in SEC.

Coach Wayne Kreklow said the team did a better job today of making more routine plays. He compared this match with Friday’s match against Georgia.

“I thought today we were just a little bit sharper, Kreklow said. “We gave ourselves more opportunities to get a swing and when you do that good things happen,”

He also said experiencing Friday’s five-set match prepped the team to persevere through today’s match.

The Tigers’ improved play showed itself in set one, despite the struggles late in the set.

They maintained a small but steady lead behind strong passing and solid serving

There were a couple of serves by Ali Kreklow that Ole Miss players had difficulty digging. Yet the Tigers strung several errors and with multiple kills by the Rebels, set one went to Ole Miss.

Set two had the two teams battling but a 5-0 run, powered mostly by Loxley Keala’s serving, allowed the Tigers to pull ahead 21-16.

Ole Miss came back towards the end of the third set to win, based on a combination of the Tigers’ errors and the Rebels’ kills. The Tigers played their worst in this set, hitting .231 and making six attack errors.

The two teams battled heavily to gain the upper hand in the fourth set. The Tigers finally won the set, behind strong performances by Whitney Little and Kasey Reuter.

Both had five kills and Little had three blocks.

The Tigers dominated offensively in the fifth set. They hit .588 with 10 kills and no errors. The team also went on a 5-0 run that opened up their lead, going from 3-3 to 8-3 behind the serving of Ali Kreklow.

While the Tigers’ offense was hot, their defense abled them to control Ole Miss. They limited the Rebels to a .193 hitting percentage and made the Rebels commit 32 attack errors. Missouri converted 17.5 team blocks.

Errors have been the mainstay of the team since the season started, but today the the team only committed 11 attack errors, compared to 35 on Friday.

Outside hitter Kasey Reuter attributed the improvement to a change in how the team approached the ball.

“Knowing that you don’t really have to crush the ball every time, and I think reading their block a little bit better,” outside hitter Kasey Reuter said.

Besides hitters playing smarter with the ball, Wayne Kreklow said setters Ali Kreklow and Loxley Keala passed the ball more efficiently, giving hitters better looks. This allowed multiple players to produce offensively. Four players had more 10 or more kills, while six players hit over .200.

Top performers included Wilson, who had 11 kills with .296 hitting, and six blocks. Little had eight blocks and 10 kills on a .500 hitting, while Reuter hit .609 with 15 kills and 12 digs. Setters Keala and Ali Kreklow had 27 and 28 assists, respectively.

The Tigers will see if they can maintain a solid all-around performance at their next match 7 p.m. Friday at LSU.

 

 

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