Tigers out-jump Kangaroos in volleyball

Missouri swept all three sets Wednesday night.
Junior middle blocker Rosa Medrano redirects the ball moments before UM-Kansas City sophomore outside hitter Elizabeth Beck has the opportunity to block it Wednesday at the Hearnes Center. All 14 players on the Mizzou volleyball roster saw playing time in the 3-0 sweep of the Kangaroos.

The Tigers held the Kangaroos to just 39 points in the match and a hitting percentage of -.065. The match was the last non-conference test before the Tigers face the bulk of their Big 12 conference schedule.

UM-Kansas City had a hard time controlling the powerful serves and strikes from the main Tiger hitters. Junior outside hitter Julianna Klein seemed unstoppable as she launched her shotgun-like strikes at the UMKC defense.

Klein finished the match with seven kills on 20 total attacks.

Junior outside hitter Paola Ampudia, the Big 12 Rookie of the Week, also provided strong play at the net with a game-high nine kills and 12 points.

The first set was nothing but smiles for the Tigers as they quickly took advantage of nearly every UMKC mistake.

The Tigers went down early 3-5, but an 11-1 run fueled Missouri to a dominating 25-15 first set victory.

The next set was more of the same as Missouri displayed strong play at the net and pulled the UMKC hitting percentage down to a paltry -.152 and -.065 overall.

"We were on the offensive most of the night and it gave us a lot of chances to run some new things and it reflected in the hitting percentage a little bit," coach Wayne Kreklow said.

The final set gave Kreklow a chance to utilize all of his players, crowding the score sheet and giving every player on the roster a chance to make an impact in the match.

Freshman setter Kate Harris got on the court as well, recording eight assists in the final set.

Sophomore Brittney Brimmage also notched kills from her middle blocker position, giving the Tigers another direction from which to strike. She finished with a .308 hitting percentage with six kills on 13 total attacks.

With such strong play at the net by Missouri, the Kangaroos began to pull back their attack to avoid blocks from the Tiger frontline. With Brimmage standing strong, UMKC was hopeless in finding a groove in their attack.

"We pretty much played our game and we didn't come down to their level of play," Brimmage said. "We did what we needed to do."

The Tigers respected their in-state opponents and pointed out the score did not reflect the level of play UMKC is capable of.

"They're better than how they played and part of that was how we played," Kreklow said.

The Tigers were dominant and never allowed the Kangaroos to fight their way back.

"I think we were ready to get the business done," senior setter Lei Wang-Francisco said about coming out strong in the match.

The problem of consistency Kreklow has talked about throughout the season was not a big problem on the night the Tigers recorded a .275 hitting percentage.

"We did a good job with maintaining a high level of play," Kreklow said. "Sometimes when that happens it's easy to get lackadaisical and execution isn't exactly where you want."

The match was won in dominating fashion and boosted the overall confidence of the team.

"It brings our confidence up more," Brimmage said. "In the past when we played teams like this we would start playing at their level and the outcome would not be good."

The team's next match is Saturday against Big 12 opponent Texas A&M, and the Tigers will need to be ready for a tougher match.

"Once we start good, we can get going," Wang-Francisco said. "Mental preparedness is really important."

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