Mizzou volleyball’s season ends with 3-0 loss to No. 1 Penn State

This is the second year in a row that the Tigers’ season has ended in the Sweet 16.
Maneater File Photo

Walking off the court after the third set, the Missouri volleyball team huddled together for what would be the last time for the 2017 season. The Tigers’ campaign came to a close after being swept by No.1 Penn State in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

Redshirt freshman Kayla Caffey earned a kill to grab the first point of the match and get things started for the Tigers. From there, the Nittany Lions went on a five-point scoring run to take control of the game, earning most of their first five points from attacking errors by senior Sydney Deeken and redshirt senior Kira Larson.

Throughout the first set, Missouri went on a few small scoring runs here and there, but the Tigers never caught up with Penn State. The Lions’ strength on offense carried them to a first-set victory, 25-17. Penn State tallied 14 kills, with a .565 hitting percentage.

Penn State’s offense didn’t let up in the second set, as the team recorded 15 kills, finishing with 29 over the first two sets. Though the Tigers trailed much of the set, a late 3-0 scoring run with kills from redshirt senior Melanie Crow and senior Courtney Eckenrode and an error by the Lions brought the Tigers within three. The Lions responded with yet another five-point scoring run and quickly sealed the set victory, 25-18.

The third set had a different tone. The Tigers had their best performance of the match, earning an early 11-7 advantage, but that did not discourage the Lions. Responding to Mizzou's run, the Lions went on three runs of their own to easily take back the game and claim the match. The Tigers’ season came to an end after the Lions defeated them 25-19 in the third set.

Once the match ended, Missouri head coach Wayne Kreklow acknowledged the strength and talent Penn State has that makes it worthy of being the No. 1 seed.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed with the outcome,” Kreklow said in a press release. “We knew coming in that it was going to be a tough task in squaring off against the nation’s No. 1 seed. They’re No. 1 for a reason. They’re really good. They have a lot of good players out there that do a lot of good things.”

Despite the loss, four Tigers shined on the court, three of them seniors. Caffey posted big numbers at the net, earning seven kills and one block. Playing front row for the Tigers for the last time, Crow tallied 12 kills, one assist and one dig, securing her ninth double-digit kill match this season. Larson contributed at the net as well with eight kills and one total block. Eckenrode recorded 20 assists, two kills, four digs and one ace in her final game as a Tiger.

Kreklow touched on the performance of the team after the loss and how far the program has come since the beginning of the season.

“I was really proud though of the way we battled,” Kreklow said in the press release. “I’m proud of this season these ladies had. Prior to the match, I looked at the date and saw it was Dec. 8. Four months ago on Aug. 8, we started official practice. It’s a long, brutal season.”

Edited by Joe Noser | jnoser@themaneater.com

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