Missouri dominates Arizona in first round of NCAA Tournament, awaits Nebraska

The Tigers hit over at least .375 in every set for one of their best offensive outings of the season in a sweep.
Junior libero Riley Sents (center) celebrates with team members after winning the fourth set of Missouri volleyball's match with Auburn on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018.

When the NCAA Tournament bracket was revealed, Missouri knew it didn’t have an easy road ahead. The Tigers’ group of four consisted of three ranked teams. With a top-25 matchup against No. 23 Arizona in the first round, No. 24 Missouri knew that it was going to be a tough tournament.

The Tigers made their first step look easy, though. Missouri swept the Wildcats Friday night, producing its best hitting percentage of any match this season.

“I thought it was one of our better matches of the season,” coach Wayne Kreklow said in a press release. “It was a good time for it, because I knew we’d need it.”

Missouri has advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the fourth straight year. It will play national blueblood Nebraska Saturday night at 7 p.m. for a shot at its third straight Sweet 16.

The Tigers glided past Arizona despite being down early on in the first set. They went on a 4-0 run to take a 10-8 lead and kept the lead for the rest of the set. Missouri hit .375 in the set, making only one attack error.

The second set was extremely close. With the set tied at 19, Missouri managed to take a late lead, winning 25-22. The Tigers once again capitalized offensively, hitting .438 in the set.

The Tigers really took control in the third set. Missouri started the set with a 3-0 run and never gave up the lead. Missouri won the set 25-18, hitting .433 with 15 kills, while the Wildcats hit just .161 with 10 kills.

The Missouri offense shined in the match. The Tigers recorded 48 kills and just six attack errors, hitting .412 on the day, the second highest hitting percentage the Tigers have had in their NCAA postseason history.

The Tigers were led by sophomores Kylie Deberg and Dariana Hollingsworth, who each tallied 11 kills. Senior Alyssa Munlyn also had 10 kills, hitting an impressive .833, her single-match career-high and the highest in a single-match by any Tiger in postseason history. Sophomores Leketor Member-Meneh and Tyanna Omazic also played a big part in Missouri’s offense, contributing eight and seven kills, respectively. Redshirt freshman Andrea Fuentes recorded 44 assists, while redshirt junior Riley Sents had 17 digs.

“Offensively, we were really good in transition and you could tell by our hitting percentages that we were really clicking,” Kreklow said in the release. “It was a great way to start the weekend … Survive and advance.”

When Missouri faces No. 6 Nebraska Saturday night, it will mark the 76th meeting of the former Big 12 teams.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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