Claudia Dillon and Dariana Hollingsworth-Santana cover for Missouri volleyball’s missing players

The two bench players led the Tigers’ blocking efforts as they defeated Arkansas.

Claudia Dillon patiently waited for the incoming serve to soar over the net in anticipation of the Tigers’ back row digging the ball over to Andrea Fuentes.

As the ball reached Fuentes, Dillon jogged towards the other side of Missouri’s court. After the ball was set, the 6’2” middle blocker lunged into the air, killing the ball between the confused Razorbacks. This was the motion Missouri’s offense utilized as star blocker Tyanna Omazic’s presence was missing on the court for the entirety of both matches.

Coming into the two-game series with Arkansas, outside hitter Leketor Member-Meneh opted out due to COVID-19, setter Jayden Newsome had broken her hand, the Tigers lost middle blocker Omazic to a torn ACL and outside hitter Kenna Sauer did not play. Coach Joshua Taylor dealt with various starting lineups, exploring his options with sophomore middle blocker Dillon and outside hitter Dariana Hollingsworth-Santana to fill the roles of the missing players.

“All of that in the span of a couple days after losing two big matches — it would’ve been really easy to fold and allow that to define us, but the girls did a really nice job of relying on one another and fighting through the adversity,” Taylor said.

Dillon started both matches while Taylor fluctuated throughout the lineup to make up for the missing players. Dillon tallied eight kills, taking the places of her three missing teammates.

Alongside Dillon, Hollingsworth-Santana threw off Arkansas’ scouting report, replacing outside hitter Kenna Sauer while she sat for the majority of both matches. Hollingsworth-Santana adapted from a lack of playing time in the two previous matches and was able to make herself a significant presence on the court against the Razorbacks.

The duo stepped up to the challenge as Sauer and Omazic sat out for the Tigers. They led the Tigers’ blocking front and tallied four blocks each in the second match.

After a dominating performance against the Arkansas Razorbacks, the Tigers head down to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the struggling Ole Miss team.

“I’m definitely pleased with how we responded after a couple tough matches last week against Kentucky, “ Taylor said. “It’s hard to believe that we’re down to our last two matches of the fall season, but we have to take advantage of some downtime and recoup ahead of two big matches at Ole Miss.”

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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