Missouri volleyball takes down Kansas State

Junior Paola Ampudia dominated the match with 18 kills.
Sophomore Annie Lopez hits the ball over the net during a game against the Kansas State Wildcats on Wednesday night at the Hearnes Center. Lopez tied a season record of 12 digs in a game during the match, which was also a win for the Tigers.

In a match more competitive than the score indicated, the Missouri volleyball team defeated Kansas State 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-18) on the power of junior outside hitter Paola Ampudia.

The Tigers lost 1-3 in Manhattan, Kan., on Oct. 14 but rebounded with a match in which they only trailed for four total points, all coming early in the first two sets. Both teams played well on offense, notching high overall hitting percentages.

Kansas State hit its way to a .215 hitting percentage and the Tigers were able to notch 52 kills and a .333 hitting percentage, something they have only done in three matches this year.

Coach Wayne Kreklow was somewhat down on the overall performance of his team.

"We didn't play as well as we have the last couple matches but I felt we played long enough and well enough to come away with a win," Kreklow said.

Ampudia continued her dominance with 18 kills on 41 attacks for a commanding .317 hitting percentage. Ampudia showed for the fifth straight match how dominant she could be, but still showing restraint when needed.

"When you know there's one person that can single handedly get you out of a tough spot, you can start to depend on her," Kreklow said.

Junior outside hitter Julianna Klein made her return after missing four matches with mononucleosis. Klein made her debut midway through the second set and struggled with the velocity of her swings.

"A lot of how well she does depends on how quickly she comes back," Kreklow said. "She hasn't really done anything for two weeks so stamina and strength are an issue."

Kreklow also said it should be about a week before Klein returns to the level of play she was at a month ago.

The first set was a back-and-forth affair with each team going nearly point for point. With the score knotted at 18, Missouri went on to score five straight points and pull away before closing it out 25-21.

The second frame also featured the teams trading points. Senior middle blocker Amanda Hantouli was inserted into the game and made an immediate impact with five kills and a block.

Missouri showed its dominance in the final set, pushing to an early 6-2 lead. Junior outside hitter Rosa Medrano has stepped up in recent games and the third set showed why she is one of the best hitters in the conference.

She finished with eight kills and a .438 hitting percentage and helped her Tigers finish off the Wildcats 25-18.

Usually used in a utility role, Hantouli notched a season high seven kills and a commanding .385 hitting percentage. Hantouli came in use in the second frame, boosting the Tigers offensively when needed.

"My role is to do whatever the coaches want me to do and do it well," Hantouli said. "Whenever I'm called upon is the time to go out there and provide a spark when I'm needed."

Missouri is heading into the final stretch of the season and is looking to get more wins to propel them into the NCAA Tournament.

"We're in a really great position (to make the tournament) because a lot of the teams we've played close against on the road, we get to play at home now," junior middle blocker Catie Wilson said.

The Tigers have found their way into this week's NCAA RPI rankings, a main determinant for which teams make it into the 64-team tournament.

The team will play its final non-conference game of the 2009 season against Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville on Saturday at the Hearnes Center.

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