The Missouri women’s volleyball team started its 2013 season off right, winning its first game against South Dakota (25-21, 25-17, 25-16) in the Tiger Invitational Friday at the Hearnes Center.
Missouri (1-0) came out strong in the first set, never relinquishing the lead in its 25-21 win. Freshman utility Carly Kan led the team with six kills, while fellow freshman blocker Emily Thater contributed four kills with a perfect hitting percentage.
The Tigers as a whole hit .393 on 112 total attacks over the course of the match, compared to South Dakota’s .220 with over 109 attacks.
“(The match) was awesome, I had no idea what to expect,” said Thater. “We had to bring our A-game. The fact that (senior setter Molly Kreklow) trusted me enough to feed me some balls is pretty great.”
The Tigers racked up 18 kills in the second set, with junior libero Sarah Meister reaching 11 digs. Senior hitter Lisa Henning, who led Missouri in kills for the match with 15, clinched set point at 25-17.
"At halftime, we just said we were going to start strong," Kan said. "We wanted to finish this game and not mess around.”
And mess around they did not — in the third set, Missouri lost its first point at 5-1, but that was as close as the Coyotes got. The Tigers hit an astonishing .483 for the set, speeding to a 25-16 win. Kreklow had 45 assists through all three sets, almost reaching her career high 62.
"We were a little tentative at the beginning," coach Wayne Kreklow said. "The third set when we came out, we settled a little more and got into more of a flow.”
Chemistry, he said, is a main goal as the tournament continues. The Tigers host Pittsburgh on Friday night.
“We need to get used to playing with each other," he said. "I don’t want to put too much on any one match this early in the season and detract from the ultimate goal, which is to play better.”
The Tigers have won five out of the last six Tiger Invitational tournaments, with the exception being a second place finish in 2012, when Michigan took the title. Since 1974, Missouri has gone 28-11-1 in season openers, the last opener loss being in 2007.