Missouri volleyball suffered its first November loss on Friday against visiting No. 16 Florida 3-0 (17-25, 16-25, 19-25).
The Tigers failed to get out of the gate in the first set, finishing it with a .172 attack average and with junior outside hitter Lisa Henning leading the team with only four kills. The Gators, on the other hand, had no trouble firing on all cylinders from the opening whistle, ending the opening set at .324 attacking and winning 25-17.
Missouri would trail throughout the second set as the offensive woes continued to hinder its performance, averaging .089 attacking on the match.
The team would show renewed vigor in the final set, leading early on and tying the match at nine points. But errors and a stellar outing from Florida’s Ziva Recek and Madison Monserez helped the Gators propel to a 25-19 set victory.
Regardless of the loss, coach Wayne Kreklow remained confident in his team.
"I thought we did a lot of things really well tonight," Kreklow said. "We just gave up too many runs in each of the games and we could never get back into them. I thought we hung right with them for a lot of the third game but just made a few too many mistakes down the stretch. That is a good team, one of the best we have faced this season.”
Junior setter Molly Kreklow earned her Southeastern Conference-leading 17th double-double with 19 assists and 11 digs on the game. Henning led the match in scoring with 14 kills while freshman outside hitter Regan Peltier and sophomore outside hitter Emily Wilson combined for another 12 kills.
Sophomore middle blocker Whitney Little had an uncharacteristic performance with only one kill on -.222 hitting. Over the previous two games, she averaged .573 attacking and 23 kills.
Molly Kreklow connected Little’s dip in performance to Florida’s defensive strategy and Missouri’s own struggles with passing.
“They’ve been keying on her a lot,” she said. “But also tonight was not one of our best passing nights. When we’re not passing well it’s hard to get passes to our middles. She’s trying her hardest but sometimes it just happens.”
With Missouri sitting at 17-9 on the season with a top 60 RPI, the next five games will be the deciding factor as to whether or not the team gets a bid in the NCAA Tournament.
“We just need to focus one game at time and just keep trying to beat the teams we know we can beat,” Henning said. “We also can’t give anything away. If people are going to beat us we’re going to make them earn it.”