No. 24 Missouri volleyball sweeps LSU, extends win streak to seven games

Although Columbia’s Tigers swept Baton Rouge’s Tigers, the team struggled to win the first two sets while committing 17 errors.
Junior libero Riley Sents (center) celebrates with team members after winning the fourth set of Missouri volleyball's match with Auburn on Friday, Oct. 19, 2018.

The start of “Halloweekend” wasn’t the only scary sight on MU’s campus on Friday.

Playing its first game as a ranked team, Missouri volleyball didn’t come out looking like it was a top 25 team. On the surface, it shows the No. 24 Tigers of Missouri swept the visiting Tigers of LSU Friday night at Mizzou Arena to remain undefeated at home and extend their win streak to seven games.

But in its second consecutive Friday playing an all Tigers match — Auburn came to town last week for a match in which Missouri won 3-1 — Missouri (19-4) (9-2 SEC) was frightened by a startling amount of errors.

“In game two, I was just staring starting to feel like ‘I’m starting to feel good here,’” coach Wayne Kreklow said. “We got a little bit of separation, and then we [had] a whole slew of I don’t even remember, and then all of a sudden we’re right back in a dog fight again.”

Missouri finished with 20 errors, and despite the win, the battle of the Tigers was a lot closer through two sets than the box score may suggest.

LSU came out firing on all cylinders in the first set, trading points through the entire set. Missouri could not find its footing until an LSU attack error broke a 17-17 tie. Missouri finished strong to take the first set 25-21, but not without committing nine errors.

The second set saw another eight Missouri errors and an even more frightening set. Down 24-23 with LSU at set point, Missouri rallied to bring the score to 24-24 behind a big kill from sophomore Kylie Deberg. The Illinois transfer would end the set with an ace, allowing Missouri to escape the set with a win, 26-24.

Ranked 11th out of 13 SEC teams, LSU’s record didn’t correlate to the level at which they played according to Kreklow.

“LSU is another one of those teams in the SEC right now where I think their record is pretty deceiving,” Kreklow said. “They’ve got some good players and they’re just having trouble putting it together for an extended period.”

It wasn’t until the third set that Missouri found its footing and showed why it is a ranked team. Columbia’s Tigers finished the match on a good note with a 25-12 set win.

“When we got back to just making them play instead of trying to make perfect plays, that’s when we settled down a little bit,” senior Alyssa Munlyn said.

In her first game since being named an SEC player of the week for her performance against then No. 11 Florida, redshirt freshman Andrea Fuentes finished with 41 assists. Deberg, Munlyn, and sophomore Tyanna Omazic also all finished with double digit kills.

After the game, coach Wayne Kreklow talked about teams coming out, as LSU did, and playing like they have nothing to lose as an approach against his now ranked Missouri team.

“That kind of comes with the territory,” Kreklow said. “It’s a lot different running out in front of the pack than back in the middle or from behind. We’re going to have to do a better job of knowing that every time we come out, we’re going to get their best.”

With more eyes on Missouri now as a ranked team, the pressure to perform at a high level only increases. But for this young Tiger’s team, the goal will be continue staying within themselves and playing their game.

“People cheer louder, every block is now bigger, every kill is now bigger,” Munlyn said. “We just have to make sure we’re minimizing those moments and making sure we’re controlling what we can control.”

According to Munlyn, the team needs to be aware of no longer being the underdog, but not let being a ranked team get to its head. “We can’t have a day where we think we’re better,” she said. “I think [the slow start] humbled us a little bit.”

Texas A&M will come to Mizzou Arena for a match Sunday, and in order for the Tigers to continue their winning streak, the team will have to make some tweaks from Friday’s match.

“We’re going to have to play clean, execute and we’re not going to be able to give away 12 or 13 points a game and expect to be successful,” Kreklow said.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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