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Friday, August 1, 2014

As Tigers look to replace star setter Kreklow, cousin waits in wings

“There’s always been pressure in my family to perform well,” Ali Kreklow said.

MU Alum Molly Kreklow sets a ball during the first round of the NCAA Volleyball tournament at the Hearnes Center on Friday, Dec. 6, 2013.

Ben Kothe/Graphic Designer

July 9, 2014

Setter Molly Kreklow’s accolades are almost too many to count.

The niece of Missouri head coach Wayne Kreklow, she was the 2013 Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and a first team All-American who led the nation with 12.65 assists per set. With the second most career assists in Mizzou history with 5,366, Kreklow had one of the biggest roles on the team.

Now she’s gone. After Missouri volleyball’s most successful season in program history, going 34-0 and clinching the SEC title last fall, the Tigers have lost Kreklow to graduation.

But the Kreklow family legacy is not finished at Mizzou. Freshman setter Ali Kreklow, Molly’s cousin and Wayne’s daughter, will join the Tigers this fall and may take over for her cousin in the starting lineup. Last year, she led Rock Bridge High School to the 4A State Quarterfinals and was named All-State honorable mention.

“My cousin Ali represents exactly what being a member of Mizzou volleyball is all about,” Molly Kreklow said. “She is incredibly hardworking, selfless and driven to be the best that she can be.”

Ali Kreklow picked Missouri in November over her other offers.

“I couldn’t picture myself in any other program or team,” she said. “It’s always somewhere I’ve wanted to be. I love Columbia and I love home, but at the end of the day, I didn’t feel any pressure to come to (Mizzou.)”

Ali Kreklow’s parents have coached her club team in the past. Her last two years of high school were the first time they didn’t coach her.

“It’s actually a little weirder not playing for them than playing for them,” she said. “It’ll be a bigger difference at the collegiate level because it’s more competitive, but nothing I can’t get used to.”

Kreklow will likely compete to be the Tigers’ starting setter with sophomore Loxley Keala, who took the role of defensive specialist last year, playing in all 36 games.

“Molly’s a phenomenal setter and it was great to be on the same court as her,” Keala said. “That was the best way to learn – seeing how she interacted with the team, how she ran the offense.”

With her star cousin, Molly, who has left her mark on Mizzou; her older brother, Ricky, who played basketball at Mizzou, Cal and now Creighton; her father, Wayne, who, along with coaching the Tigers, won a national championship with the Boston Celtics; and her mother, Susan, who played volleyball at Missouri State and is also on the Tigers’ coaching staff, Ali Kreklow has a lot to live up to.

“There has always been pressure in my family to perform well,” Kreklow said. “That’s just kind of what is expected. But it’s nothing out of the ordinary – I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

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