Volleyball falls to SLU

Twenty-three errors and sloppy passing plagued the Tigers.

When you give away points, you lose.

Period.

The Missouri volleyball team learned this lesson the hard way Tuesday night at the Hearnes Center, falling to in-state rival Saint Louis University in five sets.

Giveaway points and poor execution on offense gave away the match.

“This one I’m very disappointed in,” Missouri coach Wayne Kreklow said. “I’m disappointed in how we came out and played, and I’m disappointed in the execution.”

For the seventh straight match, the Tigers dropped the first set, something Kreklow credits to a lack of consistency and mental readiness.

“To keep repeating mental mistakes is just something you can’t do,” Kreklow said. “And I think this group is going to have to make a change.”

Sophomore Carly Kan had an idea on how to change that mental readiness.

“We need to come into games thinking we’re already down two (sets),” she said. “Each of us needs to make that first game a lot better.”

Mizzou ran off to an early lead in that first set, but the Billikens were able to slowly catch up, tying the set at 21. After blowing three set points, SLU escaped the opening game 27-25. Kan struggled, hitting -.214 and committing 5 of the team’s total 8 errors, which would prove to be the Achilles heel for Mizzou in the set.

“It all comes down to the first touch,” Kan said. “We didn’t do well with that first touch tonight.”

A tight second set was opened after a pair of SLU errors gave Mizzou a four-point lead. The Billikens battled back within one, but a SLU attack error ended the set in favor of Mizzou, 25-23. A drastic difference from the opening set, Mizzou had just two errors and hit .306, compared to .086 in the first set.

SLU took a 13-6 lead early in the third set. The Tigers fought back to within a single point at 23-22, but a strong finish from the Billikens squashed any hopes of a comeback, as they took the set 25-22. Once again, poor hitting at .139 plagued the Tigers in the set.

“We let up mentally and had a mental break, and we’re working hard at that,” Kan said. “But it’s going to take time.”

After a back-and-forth start, Mizzou was able to hold onto a four-point lead for a majority of the fourth set. A pair of kills from Kan and Keala, along with a SLU error, sealed a 25-19 set victory. The Tigers hit .355 and recorded a match-best 14 kills in the fourth set effort.

“When we pass and set well, we look good,” Kreklow said. “At times that happened tonight, and at times it didn’t.”

The Billikens held a lead for the majority of the final set, and a powerful kill ended the match at 15-11.

The Tigers’ offense struggled all night. Whether it was poor passing or poor setting, something always seemed off.

The team’s passing was especially sloppy and miscommunication was rampant. The team committed a total of 23 errors and hit .209 in the match.

“It was just one thing after another, and we couldn’t get anything going,” Kreklow said.

The Tigers will travel to Moscow, Idaho on Wednesday for the Idaho Nike Invitational. Mizzou will face off against Idaho, Boise State, Portland and Eastern Washington.

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