No. 4 Tigers finish undefeated after sweeping Arkansas

Missouri honored team’s two seniors Kreklow and Henning at final match.
Senior hitter Lisa Henning celebrates with the team after scoring a point during the Missouri-Arkansas game on November 27. The Tigers swept the Razorbacks, winning their 33rd match of the season.

Seniors Molly Kreklow and Lisa Henning closed the book on their last regular season Wednesday night against Arkansas.

In front of 7,437 fans, the Southeastern Conference regular season champions No. 4 Tigers (34-0, 18-0 SEC) capped a historic season with one final win, sweeping the Razorback and becoming the first SEC team to finish undefeated.

Henning described the feat as “ridiculous.”

“It’s little surreal,” said Kreklow, who finished with 45 assists. “It feels like the regular season shouldn’t be over yet … It has been really great but I don’t think it will really sink in until a couple years from now.”

Coach Wayne Kreklow said the odds of going undefeated were astronomical.

The Razorbacks had only been swept three times prior to Wednesday’s match. After losing the first two sets, 25-11 and 25-16, Arkansas would not go quietly, making the Tigers earn the final game.

The third set had 18 ties and four match points. Then, Henning and junior blocker Whitney Little combined for the game’s final block to win the match.

All in all, the Razorbacks hit .098 to the Tigers’ .359 and the Hogs’ three blockers at the net could not stop Henning who had 14 kills.

Wayne Kreklow credited the crowd — the second-largest in school history — that pushed the Tigers on to victory in the third set.

“The crowd at the end of game there, when we go in a hole and things were dicey for a while, helped,” he said. “All you have to do is make one play, and the place erupts and the energy just flows.”

Out of 34 matches, the Tigers have gone to four sets eight times and have yet to see a fifth. Wayne Kreklow credited such success to Molly Kreklow and Henning.

“Players like Molly and Lisa don’t come around all that often,” he said. “Molly and Lisa will be in the hall of fame here someday, no doubt. For those two, the significance of what they have done can’t be overstated. You can’t replace players like that.”

Wayne Kreklow has had the chance to see Molly Kreklow and Henning’s relationship develop over the past four years. He compared it to a great quarterback and a great receiver, and he said it doesn’t happen all that often.

Henning said this day, Senior Night, was not a topic of discussion between the roommates with the unspoken understanding that they would not talk about it until it happened.

After Henning scored the final point, she made eye contact with Molly and then it set in that she had just played her last regular season game.

Molly Kreklow called it bitter sweet.

“It’s tough,” Henning said. “I honestly don’t want to ever leave. But at some point you have to move on with your life. You only get four years for a reason.”

That postgame ceremonies included a recitation of the records that Henning and Molly Kreklow broke during their four years. They are the winningest senior class with 95 wins and have had two NCAA tournament appearances with a third one on the horizon. Henning has the record for the most career-kills and continues to reset the record each game. Finally, as senior captains, they have led the team to their first SEC championship and the undefeated season.

“Our bond will be lifelong and I just couldn’t have asked for a better classmate,” Molly Kreklow said.

Molly Kreklow and Henning have closed the book on their regular season but their story is still not finished. The NCAA tournament is next and the fourth-ranked Tigers will most likely host the first rounds of the regional at Hearnes Center.

“We are going to keep focusing on moving forward,” Molly Kreklow said. “We have a lot left that we can do and I think we going to keep pushing for that.”

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