Pink Out volleyball game raises cancer awareness

Players dedicated the afternoon with signs bearing the name of someone they know battling cancer.
Designed by Corey Hadfield

Outside, thunder rolled through the area and the sky was dark. Inside Mizzou Arena Sunday afternoon, the mood was not nearly as dreary.

The lower bowl of the arena was scattered with a gleeful mix of pink, yellow and black, while on the court, Missouri volleyball wore pink uniforms for its annual Pink Out game.

Behind a colorful Sunday crowd, the Tigers defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks in straight sets.The win cements a season sweep over the border-rival Razorbacks. Missouri (14-4, 4-2 SEC) has swept all but one of its home matches this season – the team lost one set against Ohio during the Mizzou Invitational.

Playing at home has been a difference maker in the Tigers’ six-game home win streak. The team is just 2-3 in true away games this season.

“The biggest advantage of playing at home is our crowd,” coach Wayne Kreklow said. “You can feel the energy coming down onto the [court].”

Today though, that crowd had extra meaning behind its cheers and the team had extra meaning behind each point.

Held during October –Breast Cancer Awareness Month –each year, the Pink Out raises cancer awareness while benefiting MU’s Ellis Fischel Cancer Center. Upon entering the arena, fans were given pink ribbons, handed out by Zeta Tau Alpha, which read “Think Pink.” Throughout the match, the jumbotron showed announcements in pink.

During the second set, a group of Missouri players’ names were displayed on the jumbotron as well as the friends or family with cancer they were playing on behalf of.

Among the group was redshirt freshman Andrea Fuentes, who was playing in honor of her late friend Ana Paulina Oliveras. Oliveras passed away nine months ago from glioblastoma, a form of brain cancer. After the game, Fuentes discussed the significance of the Pink Out.

“Being able to symbolically play for her today means a lot,” Fuentes said. “It gives so much more weight to the win today. Whenever I would fall into that slow rhythm, I would think of [her] and it would put me right back up.”

Although fans wore pink, the day was an opportunity to raise awareness for different forms of cancer.

“It’s something that’s good for us to get behind,” Kreklow said. “The number of people that have had [someone] that have had to battle cancer… It’s a good thing to do to raise awareness and try to do everything we can to get it out front and center to see if we can eventually find some cures.”

Missouri will go back on the road next weekend on a Mississippi road trip, facing Ole Miss Friday and Mississippi State Sunday, prior to its next home match against Auburn as part of MU’s homecoming weekend.

Edited by Bennett Durando |

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