Coach Wayne Kreklow was on his feet all night in Missouri’s lopsided victory against Austin Peay State University on Tuesday, the Tigers’ last non-conference match of the year.
While APSU coach Taylor Mott quietly stood and sat near her team’s bench, a gangly and animated Kreklow paced the floor, hands on hips. He scrawled notes into his black composition notebook every few plays, taking a few steps onto the court and offering improvements to his squad.
“There’s definitely things we can get better at,” he said. “We’ve got to continue to work on defending the team’s right side of hitters … and defending middles.”
The Tigers (19-0, 3-0 SEC) bore the improvements as they rolled through the Lady Governors (6-24, 3-1 Ohio Valley Conference) in an overwhelming sweep (25-10, 25-12, 25-12). The victory tied Missouri’s win total from last season (19) and its best start in school history, a record set in 1982.
“It’s been a good thing that nobody really talks about the wins,” Kreklow said. “I think this group understands that, at the end of the day, the wins don’t really mean anything anymore.”
Missouri did not give APSU much of a chance in any of the sets, creating long point streaks in each one. After the Lady Govs scourged a few points, the Tigers would devour a load more behind .390 hitting.
“I thought we were pretty sharp,” Kreklow said. “It was a good test for us to see if we could really focus in and determine how the game was going to be played.”
The Lady Govs tumbled at the net against their oversized counterparts by mustering just 16 kills in the match in comparison to the Tigers’ 40. Kreklow attributed the one-sidedness to his team’s defense, one that allowed the fewest points it has all season en route to doubling APSU’s score.
“We have to be able to stop the other team, so that we can create an offense,” said freshman setter Loxley Keala. “The more we’re in system on offense, the more we’re successful.”
Senior captains Molly Kreklow (32 assists) and Lisa Henning (6 kills) finished the match with statistics lows for their standard of play, but that didn’t matter.
Freshman utility Carly Kan finished the match tied with kills (8), while pitching in seven digs. Missouri’s offensive orchestra was balanced with Wayne Kreklow giving several reserves valuable playing time. Freshman blocker Julia Towler set a new career high with eight kills while sophomore hitter Regan Peltier added eight more.
“The plus of having a lot of depth really helps every day because the quality of practice is really high,” Wayne Kreklow said. “The biggest takeaway from this is … (the) opportunity to get some people court time who work their rear ends off every day.”
Missouri’s next test is a nationally-televised match at Tennessee, who has yet to win a match in the Southeastern Conference (8-9, 0-3 SEC). On paper, Missouri should win, echoing its success that has led to rumblings of it possibly being the best team Wayne Kreklow has coached in his 13 season coaching here.
“I don’t know if it’s the best yet because we’ve got a ways to go to match what some of those other teams have done,” he said, “but I do think the pieces are there.”