Molly Kreklow knew it was coming. She’s known ever since she could remember — the afternoons playing volleyball in the backyard with her mom, days before she grouped numbers and studied stats.
“I knew I wanted to play a college sport, but it came down to it pretty young,” she said. “In second grade, I knew I wanted to play volleyball in college.”
So now it’s here: the end of her college career, the final turn in the long-anticipated path.
The saga began three years ago when she left home in Delano, Minn., to chase her dream of playing volleyball at the collegiate level. Kreklow’s story arc soared upward as she transported her team to a Sweet Sixteen appearance as a freshman and accumulated thousands of assists each season.
Her sophomore year was just as friendly, with an NCAA Tournament berth and an all-Big 12 Conference honorable mention. Kreklow was just as good, just as dedicated her junior year, but the other elements weren’t on her side. Missouri hobbled with a depleted roster and a broken back line. It stuttered with Kreklow and fellow classmate Lisa Henning almost serving as its sole bearers of strength and production.
“We’ve had opportunities and we’ve had good teams, but I think this year will probably be one of the best teams that we’ve had since I’ve been here,” she said. “So I guess it’s perfect timing.”
Along with Henning, Kreklow has put in the extra time needed to succeed this season. It began last spring, when preparation for the end of her childhood career began.
“It really hit me in January, just that this was my last spring to prepare for this year, so I really tried to do all I could,” she said. “That includes lifestyle, what I’m eating, how I’m working out … (that) has just really changed.”
Kreklow is as dedicated of a player as she is a humble one. Her coaches and teammates rave about the additional time she and Henning dedicate to improving. But, to Kreklow, the work just comes with the job.
“A lot of it comes with the position,” she said. “As a setter, I do a lot of running, … and I think that’s something that I’ve really tried to work on this offseason to help me jump higher (and) move faster.”
Kreklow is also one of the major leadership figures in outside weekly meetings the team arranges. She said wants to help the freshmen transition into a team that will be much different without her and Henning at the end of the year, to give them all of the chances that she has dreamed of.
“Now that I’m here,” she said, “I knew I was going to do all I could and be the best player I could be.”