Mizzou falls to Oakland

The Tigers committed 26 errors and attacked at just .167

One step forward and two steps back.

That seems to be the recurring theme of the Missouri volleyball team in its 2014 campaign. Following a memorable win on Friday night, the Tigers fell to Oakland in four sets, once again failing to win two straight matches, a feat they’ve been unsuccessful in accomplishing all year.

“What we’re lacking right now is the one or two go-to players that you always know are going to be there,” Missouri coach Wayne Kreklow said. “Our margin for error isn’t very big.”

Mental toughness is what led the Tigers Friday night, but that same mental aspect would turn out to be the Achilles heel of the team Saturday afternoon. The fourth and final set showcased that weakness, where Mizzou committed nine errors and attacked at -.107.

“I don’t think we prepared mentally for this game,” Kreklow said. “It was just a lot of little things today.”

For the fifth straight match, Mizzou couldn’t hang on for the first set, falling 25-19.

Oakland’s persistent offensive power and net presence outshined the Tigers as they broke away mid-set to a 5-point lead that they were able to hold onto until the end. The Grizzlies also outhit the Tigers 85 percent to 63 percent in the opening set.

The second set started back and forth but Mizzou was able to pull away at 17-13 behind a team combined 20 kills in the set. Oakland roared back and tied the score at 18, but Carly Kan rose to the occasion with a pair of timely kills to finish off the set 25-23.

Neither team was able to take control in the third set until Oakland took a 20-18 lead following two strong service points –– one being an ace. The Grizzlies’ offensive persistence once again took over and they closed out the set 25-19. The Tigers attacked at just .219 in the set compared to Oakland’s .406.

“Our front row’s transition was really lethargic, and overall we just need to be more consistent as a group,” Kreklow said.

Oakland dashed off to a 13-3 lead early in the fourth set and never let up. An atrocious 9 errors along with a -.107 attacking would be the quick demise of a Mizzou team that has been unable to rattle off a pair of straight wins all year. The Grizzlies finished the set on top 25-11.

“I don’t think [our players] thought Oakland was capable of doing what Oakland just did,” Kreklow said. “They really came out here and surprised us.”

Overall, it was an eye-opening loss for Mizzou. Both Lipscomb and Northwestern State are teams that consistently win 20 games each year, but Oakland came in as a major underdog and stunned the Tigers.

“We’re not good enough to approach every match as if we’re not playing the national champions,” Kreklow said.

The Tigers will look to turn things around Saturday night as they take on the Xavier Musketeers at 6:30 p.m.

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