Emotions swing as volleyball falls to Kansas State

Coach Wayne Kreklow was disappointed after his team dropped a 3-2 match to the Wildcats.

Volleyball coach Wayne Kreklow stood in the tunnel leading to the locker rooms at the Hearnes Center on Wednesday night. Four days earlier, his team triumphed over Texas A&M and he spoke afterwards a happy man, thrilled even. But following the 3-2 loss to Kansas State that night, he spoke disgruntled.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve felt like we lost because we simply weren’t ready to play,” he said. “And that really infuriates me more than anything.”

The Tigers (14-5, 1-2 conference) opened the first set appearing lethargic. They allowed the Wildcats (13-3, 2-0 conference) to pull ahead 7-3 before Kreklow called for the game’s first timeout. The set became a dramatic duel with senior hitter Lisa Henning energizing her team and senior middle block Brittney Brimmage coming alive after only contributing just one kill on two swings.

Brimmage came to life and would be responsible for two of her team’s last four scores in the 33-31 win, the most points the team has scored in a set all season. Henning finished the set with 10 kills and the game with a career-high 24 kills.

The second set began and ended without a trace of remaining energy from the Tigers’ previous set. KSU won 25-20 after its defense riddled the Tigers’ attack, which hit a dismal .176 over the set.

The Wildcats came out of halftime and assailed the Tigers with powerful hitting. Missouri was overwhelmed by KSU hitters Kaitlynn Pelger, Kathleen Ludwig and Lilla Porubek, who all had double-digit kills to lead their team to a 25-21 set victory.

The back row, anchored by senior libero Priscilla Armendariz seemed overwhelmed as the Wildcats finished with .381 hitting on the set. Sophomore setter Molly Kreklow had to contribute as defenders were frequently out of place. She was leading the team in digs at the end of the set.

Coach Kreklow said he saw players out of place during the week’s practice and was constantly providing simple reminders to get in position to make plays on the ball.

“We’re not anticipating, we’re not moving,” he said. “Everybody’s kind of had mush for brains and that’s how we practiced and that’s how we played.”

The Tigers were able to force a fifth set after the Wildcats only managed .064 hitting in the fourth.

Missouri led the set before teams switched sides. The Wildcats went on to score eight of the last 13 points, sending the Tigers to fifth place in the conference.

Behind coach Kreklow in the hallway is a wall with posters of some of the most prolific Tiger players in the past decade, the ones who helped catapult the program to the Sweet 16 contender it was last year. He talked about this wall in the locker room after the game.

“They walk past this wall every day,” Kreklow said. “These people built the foundation and laid the groundwork here for an outstanding program. That kind of preparation isn’t acceptable in this program. We’re not going to do that here.”

As usual, players sat behind a table and signed autographs for children in attendance after the game. Many took pictures with the kids, too, and they tried their best to smile.

“We have to come out and play every game in the Big 12 well or we’re gonna have games like this that we shouldn’t have lost,” Molly Kreklow said. “We’re gonna wonder, only if.”

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