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Thursday, August 21, 2014

For Molly Kreklow, home and the road

As the Tigers travel to Yale then Rice, Kreklow reflects on her journey from Minnesota to Missouri.

Sept. 10, 2013

Meeting with Molly

This season marks an important one for Missouri volleyball, as its two best recruiting classes in recent history (2010, 2013) collide to make up for last year’s disappointing Southeastern Conference debut. The team’s only seniors, Lisa Henning and Molly Kreklow, lead the pack of Tigers, half of whom are freshmen.

Follow this series each week for each to chronicle the final step of Kreklow’s journey — the one she’s been dreaming of her entire life.

Molly Kreklow’s eyes widen when she’s asked about Delano, Minn.

“Delano,” she said with a smile. “It’s a pretty small farm town in western Minnesota.”

The town serves as home to more than 5,550 people and is also a volleyball shrine in the Kreklow name. Kreklow’s mother, Marcia, dominated as a three-sport athlete (basketball, volleyball and track ) at Delano High School who regularly brought her teams to state tournaments. When the Kreklow family moved to Delano for Molly’s junior and senior years of high school, Molly fit right in.

“She’s like a celebrity in the town,” said Molly of her mother, who still holds athletic records at the school.

The fame spread to Molly herself, who would even be noticed away from her school.

“People would recognize me at the grocery store and say, ‘Good game,’” she said.

The timing of the move was perfect for Kreklow, who was determined to make volleyball a priority after playing on the USA Youth National Team her sophomore year.

“After that, I started taking things more seriously as in it was more than just a sport,” she said. “I can’t remember a time of my life, throughout high school, that I was playing on a team that wasn’t meeting three times a week.”

Luckily for Kreklow, Delano was a volleyball heaven. The small town embraced the sport in unconventional fashion, giving it as much and, at times, more support than the usual football and basketball. The rallying crowds prepared Kreklow for her transition to the Hearnes Center.

“When we were younger, … I got to play in big arenas so it’s definitely helped me,” she said. “Now, it’s just easier to think like this is just a volleyball game, it’s another day.”

But the transition from Hearnes to the road isn’t as friendly. Kreklow will battle those difficulties this weekend when the Tigers go on a weeklong road trip for the first time this season.

“On the road, everything’s harder about it,” she said. “We’ll have long travel days and then have to practice at night and have productive practices.”

As the leader of a half-freshmen squad, Kreklow needs to perform well in her non-conference road trip to build a strong RPI before a slew of conference matches.

“I think this will definitely be a different challenge,” Kreklow said. “I think it’s going to be good for all of us to get into season and have to travel.”

Although Kreklow has had experience traveling in her career, she’ll still be learning this weekend.

“A lot of new things happen, and I think traveling is one of them,” she said. “It’s going to be good.”

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