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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Volleyball looks for new identity

Offseason of change leaves volleyball squad looking for new identity.

Sept. 1, 2014

Missouri volleyball coach Wayne Kreklow is a self-proclaimed Packers fan. He remembers when coach Mike McCarthy had to lead Green Bay through a transitional period after star quarterback Brett Favre retired.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers had a rocky first season as a starter. Then he led the Packers to four 10-or-more-win seasons as a starter.

“All teams, at some point, go through that,” Kreklow said of the Packers’ shift in quarterbacks. “So you go through those transitions, it happens. Sometimes it’s rough when you first make that change.”

Kreklow now faces a similar situation with the Mizzou volleyball squad. The team lost star setter Molly Kreklow, who Wayne Kreklow referred to as the team’s “quarterback,” to graduation. The focus in preseason has been whether sophomore Loxley Keala or freshman Ali Kreklow (Molly’s cousin) will replace her. A team that went undefeated in regular season play last year is now trying to find a new identity.

But as is the case in the NFL, the challenge for Kreklow’s team is not only finding its new leader, but also getting that “quarterback” comfortable with the rest of the team.

“I’ve been with Molly for three years,” senior middle blocker Whitney Little said. “I was kind of set in what I liked. But Loxley and Ali are two very different setters, so there’s some adjusting for all of us.

“It’s give and take; we all have to compromise and pull for one another.”

While the transition process is difficult, Keala spoke highly of Little.

“With the absence of Molly and Lisa, she’ll definitely have her name known more,” said Keala.

The team is fully committed to changing its face, even moving on from last year’s “Something To Prove” slogan. While the team agrees that it does have something to prove, the mantra will still be different.

“[The new slogan] is in the works,” Little said. “But it’s going to be awesome.”

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