Tigers post high-hitting percentage against Texas Tech

The Tigers are undefeated at home.
Junior libero Caitlyn Vann goes down to dig a hit by Texas Tech on Friday at the Hearnes Center. The Tigers won the first three games in the match, defeating Texas Tech.

At times it looked too easy for the Missouri volleyball team as it defeated Texas Tech in three straight sets. The Tiger attack seemed unstoppable as it posted a .344 hitting percentage as a team, including another high-hitting percentage of .778 from junior outside hitter Catie Wilson.

The win gives the Tigers an 8-0 start at the Hearnes Center this season, tying the best home start since 2003.

Junior outside hitters Paola Ampudia and Julianna Klein both made it to the double digits in kills with 12 and 10, respectively.

Both players battled illness over the past week, coach Wayne Kreklow said.

"We felt like what we needed to do was come out here, win and finish this and get a couple of days rest," Kreklow said.

The Red Raiders came out slow and lacked any kind of communication on their passes but showed pressure on the Tiger attack at the net.

On several occasions, Texas Tech simply let the ball drop to the floor or let it slip through its hands, while attempting to formulate an attack. A tough call by the official to give Missouri a 11-9 advantage led to an offensive explosion by the Tigers to finish off the set, 25-17.

Execution was the key word of the night for Kreklow and the Tigers, as he stressed its importance when playing at home.

"I was pleased with the way we were able to come out and execute at a high level," Kreklow said.

Setting up the attack was also key to the victory, and the back row was instrumental in providing senior setter Lei Wang-Francisco the tools she needed to supply good sets for her outside hitters.

"We talked about it a lot in practice about them keeping the first ball in the middle third of the net and also putting the first balls higher and giving us more time to transition," Kreklow said.

Wang-Francisco was unpredictable in her sets, breaking up the chance of a block by Texas Tech and eliminating the Red Raiders' size advantage. Wang-Francisco finished with 36 assists as well as two kills on seven attacks.

The breakdown of the Texas Tech attack led to the Tigers getting more time to set up their own attacks as they took the second set 25-12.

The Red Raiders were able to set up their attack in the third set, but the Missouri front line stymied their chances at the net. The Tigers' attack was also consistent as they hit .333 in the final set.

The key to Missouri's success on the attack was exploiting the position of the middle backs.

"They rotate the middle backs and leave a lot of cross-court open," junior libero Caitlyn Vann said. "A lot of it depended on how they rotate and we attacked that."

The Red Raiders also tended to hold positions rather than move to accommodate gaps and Wang-Francisco took advantage.

"Their defense was camping in the middle, and we started to work away from the middle, so one or nobody (was) going to block," Wang-Francisco said.

Kreklow explained execution is something that has been consistent when playing at home and will be a factor in the Tigers upcoming road match at Kansas State on Oct. 14.

"We've got to get better at bringing the same kind of focus and execution when we get on the road," Kreklow said.

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