Expectations were sky-high for incoming freshman setter Molly Kreklow at the beginning of the 2010 season. One Big 12 Player of the Week and one Tiger Invitational MVP award later, Kreklow has exceeded all expectations while leading the Tigers to the top offense in the Big 12 conference.
“It was really fun but also nerve-racking,” Kreklow said. “After the first match I got more comfortable. I enjoyed playing at home and of course winning.”
In her first three matches, Kreklow recorded 109 assists, with a Big 12 best 14.33 assists per set. She also tallied up 22 digs while aiding her team to a .326 hitting percentage on the tournament. The Tiger’s .419 hitting percentage against Nevada was the team’s best since 2006 against Arkansas State. It’s clear the offense has run more smoothly and efficiently with the addition of Kreklow on the team. Although she is only a freshman, some of Kreklow’s teammates feel as though she has the maturity level of a senior.
“It’s her maturity level in general and dedication for the game that really separates her,” senior outside hitter Julianna Klein said. “She’s always poised and always has her composure.”
That mental toughness is essential to being a top-tier setter, according to coach Wayne Kreklow.
“There’s a lot to being a good setter," Kreklow said. "To really establish yourself as an elite player in that position, you have to have that mental toughness. As the tournament went on, she got more and more comfortable.”
Her level of comfort was evident in the match against Nevada, where she recorded her first career double-double with 35 kills and 11 digs. Her 12.11 assists per set at the tournament rank higher than any other player in the Big 12.
The ability to spread around the ball to different teammates equally yet still effectively is an important quality in any offense. Kreklow did a great job doing so, distributing the ball to her teammates all throughout the tournament. Four players finished with at least 20 kills and another player finished with 18 as the Tiger offense came in waves from all angles of the court. Kreklow managed at least 35 kills in every match despite all the matches finishing in just three sets each. To top it off, all her achievements were accomplished with a cast over her previously dislocated pinky finger.
Kreklow will look to continue her success this weekend in Malibu, Calif., in the Pepperdine Asics Challenge. The Tigers are looking good coming out of that last tournament and could very likely keep their winning streak going with a championship at Pepperdine. Missouri will open up against Eastern Washington on Friday night, followed by a match against Rice at 2:30 p.m. Saturday and a faceoff against Pepperdine at 9:30 p.m. Saturday night.
This will be a good opportunity for the Tigers to pick up some road wins and establish a good non-conference record early in the season. No wins come easy, though, and Missouri will need every player to step up to ensure victory.
If Kreklow can continue her success while the rest of the Tigers continue to hit well, the Missouri volleyball team should come back to Columbia with a championship trophy in hand.