The Maneater

Missouri volleyball finishes off Jayhawks

Missouri took down border rival 3-1.

Junior middle back Catie Wilson spikes the ball past Kansas sophomore Allison Mayfield and senior Paige Mazour on Wednesday at the Hearnes Center. The Tigers defeated the Jayhawks with a final score of 3-1.

In their 10 years at the head of the Missouri volleyball team, coach Wayne Kreklow and Director of Volleyball Susan Kreklow's teams have dominated Kansas with 12 wins and four losses.

Seven of those 16 matches have gone to the full five sets and Wednesday night's match looked to be headed in the same direction before Missouri finished things off, winning 3-1 to open Big 12 play.

Offensive firepower from juniors Julianna Klein, Paola Ampudia, Rosa Medrano and Catie Wilson helped power the Tigers to victory over their border rivals. All four finished the match with double-digit kills including Wilson, a middle blocker, who finished with a game-high .500 hitting percentage.

"She's been doing a lot of spectacular things for us and right now we don't really need spectacular things," Kreklow said. "We just need to be consistent and she is one of the most consistent players on the floor."

Klein, an outside hitter, finished with a game-high 50 total attacks while notching a team-high of 16 kills.

Offensive balance was key to the Tigers win over Kansas and involving four players effectively is something Kreklow said was of paramount importance.

"When you play teams like Kansas and you become too predictable with two players, it becomes too easy for them and they can get their blocks set," Kreklow said. "Tonight we were able to spread the block and keep them off-balanced."

In the first set, the Tigers were not able to cover the whole floor, giving the Jayhawks perfect chances to drop the ball between zones and command the set.

Although the statistician only recorded five errors for the Tigers, the lack of focus was evident.

Wilson and outside hitter Medrano were the only bright spots for the Tigers as they featured hitting percentages of .571 and .400, respectively.

Senior setter Lei Wang-Francisco recorded 55 assists for the Tigers and noted the team did not play to its full potential.

"I think KU is getting better so they're more competitive, but we didn't play to our level so it was a tight game," Wang-Francisco said.

She did not forget about the importance of the first match in Big 12 play.

"It's going to help us," Wang-Francisco said. "It's going to be helpful because it's a win."

Coming out strong in the second set, the Tigers set the tone early and never relinquished the lead before evening up the match with a 25-22 winning set.

The Jayhawks fought back and pulled even at 23 after trailing for the majority of the third set and took the Tigers to three match points.

Klein knocked the last two points home as the Hearnes Center crowd erupted.

The fourth set looked to be a precursor to the match heading to a fifth set before the Tigers fought back and were able to tie up the Jayhawks at 24 before finishing it off with 26-24 set win.

The win in the always-competitive Border Showdown with Kansas brings a level of belief that Missouri will be able to compete in the harsh Big 12 conference schedule.

"It gives us our confidence with the win and it also shows us what we need to work on," Wilson said.

The win brings Missouri's record to 8-3 overall as the team heads to Oklahoma on Friday.

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