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Friday, October 31, 2014

Volleyball stars spend summer overseas

Players return stateside with newfound confidence.

Aug. 29, 2014

It’s one thing to play for a Southeastern Conference champion. It’s another to represent your country on an international level.

Mizzou volleyball players Sarah Meister, Carly Kan, Emily Wilson and Whitney Little all played for Team USA in different parts of the world this summer, with Meister playing in Minneapolis, Kan in China, and Wilson and Little touring around Europe.

“Just seeing the culture over there was incredible," Wilson said of the experience. "To have volleyball open those doors for me to experience something like that (was) so humbling and so rewarding."

Wilson and Little also had the opportunity to study up on SEC-rival Florida while in Europe, playing alongside three Gators during the 12-day tour.

“They were awesome girls," Little said. "We had so much fun getting to know all of the other players that we were with, but the Florida girls were great. We really made friends with them and we'll look forward to seeing them this season.”

Wilson and Little played under UCLA coach Mike Sealy, while Kan worked with Michigan coach Mark Rosen in China.

“He and (Mizzou coach Wayne Kreklow) are similar with their approach to the game and are both very calm on the court," Kan said. "Wayne is such a great coach and I learned a lot from him last year so it was nice playing with someone who had a similar style."

While Wilson, Little and Kan were overseas, Meister stayed home to train at the USA Volleyball Girls' Junior National Championships.

“It was an extremely high level of play,” Meister said. “Seeing the skill level of the players around you, it really helped me to elevate my game. I learned a lot and I hope to bring the things I learned into the gym heading into this season."

For all four players, Kreklow feels the experience will give them improved confidence going forward.

“Any time you get a chance to do any of that summer stuff,” Kreklow said. “I think it just helps with confidence a lot. When you come back and do this, you just got high-level play under your belt.”

They’ll get their first chance to put that confidence to use in a regular season matchup when the Tigers play in the North Texas Tournament in Denton, Texas, this weekend.

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