Missouri volleyball defeats Drake 3-0, heads into SEC play with momentum

That first game kind of reminded me of two fighters in the ring,” coach Wayne Kreklow said. His team made much easier work of the next two sets.
Missouri’s Alyssa Munlyn celebrates a successful save during the third set of a match against Drake on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. Munlyn, originally from Suwanee, GA, was SEC Freshman of the Year in 2015.

Missouri volleyball finished the Mizzou Invitational with a 3-0 sweep of Drake on Saturday at Hearnes Center.

The Tigers started the match very sloppily, falling behind 9-3 and lacking any cohesion on serve receive, but they clawed their way back and won 25-22. Coach Wayne Kreklow played an instrumental part, as his challenge overturned what was initially Drake’s match tying point at 22-22, but instead gave his team a 23-21 lead.

The next two sets were much more straightforward with Missouri winning each one 25-14. The Tigers posted 36 kills and a .349 hitting percentage, while limiting Drake to a .071 hitting percentage and forcing 27 attacking errors from the Bulldogs.

“That first game kind of reminded me of two fighters in the ring,” Kreklow said. “You’re trying to figure out what’s going on and get a feel for who you’re playing against. I thought that was the story of game one. We made a few too many unforced errors, but I thought we did a really good job at the end of making plays when we had to to close that one out. That’s always a big one, especially at home. If you can get that first one, it gives you an advantage moving forward. From there we got a good feel for how to block their attackers. We just slowly but surely got a little bit cleaner and executed better as the match went on.”

One of the keys to Missouri’s eventual control of the match, was sophomore and player of the tournament Leketor Member-Meneh, who finished with nine kills and a .474 hitting percentage, as well as three blocks.

“She’s made such huge strides since last year when she was simply a loose cannon,” Kreklow said. “She’s much more disciplined, she’s hitting smarter shots, she’s blocking better. I was really pleased with her hustle...that just rubs off on everybody. If you can have somebody with her talent, working that hard and setting that kind of example, that really is good for the group.”

Another important performance came in the form of freshman Brynn Paumen, who was introduced for her first collegiate home match during the second set. The 6-foot-2-inch middle recorded her first kill for the Tigers, but more importantly, she provided six of the team’s 13 total blocks.

“She came in and gave us a nice pickup,” Kreklow said. “One of the strengths of our team is that we have a lot of depth, and it allows us to do some things and make some changes. [Tyanna Omazic, who was replaced by Paumen] wasn’t really doing that bad, but we just got into a little funk in that rotation and we thought ‘We’re just gonna try another person out there just to see if we can jump-start things’ and she came in and did some things well and got us going again and we rode that to the end.”

Saturday’s victory came after back-to-back wins against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Ohio on Friday, and Missouri will now head into Southeastern Conference play with a 10-2 record and momentum. The Tigers’ next match is against No. 25 Alabama at 8 p.m. on Wednesday at Hearnes Center.

Edited by Bennett Durando︱bdurando@themaneater.com

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