Missouri volleyball overpowered by Nebraska in second round to end season

The Cornhuskers revealed Missouri’s lack of experience on the big stage, but the young Tigers have a lot to look forward to in the coming years.
Missouri volleyball coach Wayne Kreklow has been at the helm of coaching the program for about two decades, but his staff has always been a family affair, with his wife, Susan, coaching since he took over the program and his niece, Molly Taylor, helping coach the program the last two seasons.

A season that was supposed to be designed as a rebuild for Missouri volleyball exceeded expectations and yielded a fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s last 32. But No. 24 Missouri’s 2018 season came to an end Saturday, as No. 7 Nebraska overpowered the Tigers 3-0 in a second round sweep in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Missouri came into the match with high hopes of pulling off the upset, having just swept No. 23 Arizona in the first round on Friday, and riding a two-year streak of making the Sweet 16. But the Cornhuskers quickly snuffed out the Tigers’ ambitions with a dominant first set victory.

After initially falling behind 3-0, Nebraska stormed back with an 8-1 run forcing coach Wayne Kreklow to take a time out. After the break Nebraska pushed even harder and won 25-14.

"Obviously we're disappointed with the outcome,” Kreklow said in a press release. “We felt going in that it was going to be a tough match. Obviously it was as they're a good team and they're here for a reason. I was really proud of our group and how they continued to battle. From a coaching standpoint, that's all I can ask from our players."

Missouri made the second and third sets closer – losing 25-22 in the second and 25-18 in the third – but Nebraska exposed the harsh reality that has sneakily followed the Tigers throughout the entirety of 2018.

This is still a team very much in transition.

Missouri started the year off by graduating five seniors from last season, then added seven new faces to the roster in the offseason, and finally fielded a starting lineup with only two upperclassmen. The 2018 campaign was supposed to be the year when the new-look Tigers grew together and gained valuable experience, if not results, while finding their feet again.

However, Missouri didn’t follow that script, and instead turned the 2018 season into a largely successful one — one where the Tigers finished with a 24-8 record (13-5 SEC), were nationally ranked for six weeks and even pulled off a statement victory against No. 11 Florida.

It took a top-10 team to finally knock out a Missouri team of mostly sophomores in the second round of the tournament, a potential testament to the program’s future endeavors with much of its roster returning.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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