Tennessee puts an end to Missouri volleyball’s perfect season at home

The fourth set proved to be the difference maker between the two nationally-ranked teams, as the Tigers ended up with a negative hitting percentage in the set.

No. 23 Missouri’s perfect record at home came to an end after a 3-1 loss against No. 22 Tennessee. The Tigers started off strong in the first set, but dropped the next three, including a self-labeled ugly fourth set.

“They are not good enough to beat us like that,” senior middleblocker Alyssa Munlyn said. “That wasn’t them beating us. I’m sorry, Tennessee is a great team, but we are a better team. That’s unacceptable.”

Missouri came into Wednesday’s match-up against Tennessee looking for revenge after losing a five-set match in Knoxville in September.

“Since we lost there, I have been waiting for this day,” Munlyn said. “We’ve been preparing and we’re prepared and it’s hard when you work really hard everyday and you’re ready and you don’t see the same type of energy around you. That can be really frustrating, especially as a senior.”

The Tigers came out with high energy, looking like they wanted to avenge the earlier loss. Tied early on, Missouri went on a 6-0 run to take a 12-6 lead. They kept that lead, eventually winning 25-19. The Tiger offense started off strong, hitting .379 with 14 kills, five of which came from sophomore middleblocker Tyanna Omazic on only five attempts.

Missouri wasn’t able to carry this momentum with them in to the second set. The Tigers lost the set 25-21, while hitting .278 with 13 kills.

The third set was tight like the second. Tennessee took its first lead, up 13-12. Missouri couldn’t keep up after that. The Tigers never took back the lead, losing 22-25.

Down two sets to one for the first time at home this season, Missouri’s inexperience showed and the team’s energy was practically non-existent.

While the Tigers had kept it close with the Volunteers through three sets, Missouri fell apart in the fourth set. The lack of energy that Munlyn was referring to became apparent. Missouri hit minus-.029 with eight kills and nine errors, dropping the set 12-25.

“In those first three games, there were a lot of things we could have done better, but what I’m really disappointed in is just how we completely gave up in that fourth,” coach Wayne Kreklow said. “That’s just not what we do. I’ve been doing this 19 years and I don’t know if I’ve ever used the word embarrassed before to describe a performance, but I’m gonna do it on that one. That to me was embarrassing for Mizzou volleyball.”

Sophomore Kylie Deberg led Missouri with 16 kills. Omazic also had 10 kills and four blocks. Redshirt freshman Andrea Fuentes recorded 36 assists, and redshirt junior Riley Sents led Missouri with 15 digs.

Through all four sets, Missouri hit just .209 with 47 kills, while the Tennessee offense produced 57 kills, hitting .300.

“A lot of people are gonna make assumptions on who we are after that,” Munlyn said. “I think the only thing we can do is step up and show that we’re a different team. Whether it’s win or lose, we can come out on the court differently than we did today.”

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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