Missouri volleyball sweeps Alabama

The Tigers held a strong balance of offense and defense, winning every set by at least six points.
Anna Dixon spikes a ball during Missouri's win over Alabama on Oct. 23, 2020. Alabama Athletics

Coming off of a slow but successful start in the first game of the season, Missouri’s volleyball team clicked on every level of play, as it swept Alabama in three sets: 25-16, 25-19 and 25-19

Missouri quickly pounced on the abundance of the Crimson Tide’s attack errors in match two. Because of this, Missouri was able to take huge advantage of Alabama’s offensive slump to open the match. The Tigers showed why they were the No. 9 team in the country on Thursday night, capitalizing on every mistake while calmly sharing the ball to almost everyone on their side of the net.

“[I am] very pleased with the focus and energy our group came out with tonight,” coach Joshua Taylor said. “With such a late start, it was important that we came out from the get-go and showed a lot of toughness. We made some adjustments following last night’s match, and it really showed tonight.”

The Tigers were able to counter Alabama’s predictable offensive efforts. The Tide used their weapons such as Kennedy Muckelroy and Riley Fisbeck for the majority of the first 20 points of the match. Missouri was then able to read the Tide’s offensive motives, causing Alabama to commit two attack errors which opened up the scoring.
Andrea Fuentes and Tayanna Omazic were able to track the ball well and get themselves into the right positions to block Alabama’s few kill attempts in the first set. The fundamentals clicked early for the Tigers.

“We improved in just about every offensive and defensive category and really kept the pressure on Alabama,” Taylor said, “It was great to see so many different players come in and contribute tonight, as we’ll need that kind of production all season long.”

The Crimson Tide struggled almost identically as to how they did Wednesday night, suffering seven attack errors on 26 attempts. Those seven errors occurred due to the Tigers’ solid defensive structure in the first set. Anna D’Cruz and Omazic were able to use their tall verticals to block multiple kills above the net and push Missouri’s score closer to 25 later in the set.

Missouri blocked five Crimson Tide kills while Alabama didn’t block a single one against the Tigers in the first set.

The confident Tigers took the court in the second set as the Crimson Tide showed fatigue early on. Kylie Deberg tallied eight kills with no errors to help Missouri quickly put up a dominating offensive push. Unlike Wednesday night, the Tigers went on a 5-0 scoring run midway through the second, creating a lead that the Tide couldn’t overcome.

Missouri continued to take advantage of Alabama’s attack errors as the Tide could not establish an offensive push to stay in the match. The Tigers were able to dig successfully and pass the ball around easily while staying relaxed throughout all three sets.

Missouri set up kills for six different Tigers in the second set. As the lead grew, Deberg and Omazic timed their jumps and blocked two more of Alabama’s kill attempts later in the set.

As the thought of sweeping the Crimson Tide loomed, the third set developed into an offensive barrage. Incoming kills were handled with ease and the ball was under control for most of the points.

Eight Tigers received at least one kill for the third set. Missouri shared the ball, corralled incoming balls and came back with kills of their own for the entirety of the third set and the majority of the match.

The setter, Fuentes, was able to settle down the incoming serves and hand it to whoever she chose. Instead of using the team’s best killers and point leaders, the Tigers distributed the teams’ points among the entire roster.

Missouri only had four attack errors for the entire match.

The Tigers will play their first home match in the Hearnes Center next Wednesday against No. 3 ranked Kentucky. All home matches are limited to 18% capacity for fans this season.

Edited by Jack Soble | jsoble@themaneater.com

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