Volleyball putting ‘preseason’ behind

Said Kreklow: “I look at the potential and how much better everybody as a group could be, and I’m pleased because I do think we’re getting better.”

It doesn’t take much to change a lot.

Missouri coach Wayne Kreklow told his volleyball team this to instill a sense of confidence heading into conference play.

Though Mizzou (11-5, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) won its first two conference games over the weekend, Kreklow said he doesn’t think the team has played fantastically so far. He said he believes the Tigers can be better.

“If we didn’t have that room to improve, and I look at the team and know that this is just where we’re going to be at, I’d be worried,” Kreklow said. “I look at the potential and how much better everybody as a group could be, and I’m pleased because I do think we’re getting better.”

The potential Kreklow spoke of is evident. Errors and poor passing have disrupted Mizzou’s offensive systems this season.

In Mizzou’s loss at home to in-state rival St. Louis on Sept. 9, the Tigers committed 23 errors and attacked at just .209.

While the Tigers have struggled in many matches, Kreklow said he doesn’t think it will take a lot more to make them a much better team. Once passing and the little things are on point, he said, everything will fall into place.

“It’s not going to happen overnight and there will be some growing pains,” Kreklow said. “But we don’t have to do many things a lot better to really become a lot better.”

Senior Whitney Little said she believes with more consistency in the little things like first touches, the results will dramatically shift. The main challenge for Little and the Tigers will be finding that consistency to propel them to the next level, she said.

The schedule leading up to conference play didn’t help in finding that consistency. Playing in four tournaments, often with three or four games in a two-day span, is tough for any team, especially a young team like Mizzou that has ten underclassmen.

Kreklow explained that while nonconference play was good for getting his young team valuable experience, it might not be a reliable indicator of a team’s true ability.

“It’s hard to prepare for teams because you’re playing three to four in a weekend,” Kreklow said. “So the preseason is always kind of a crapshoot because everything happens so fast.”

Sophomore outside hitter Carly Kan currently leads the nation with 12 double-doubles, but even she knows her play can elevate. Little things like talking on the court more and being more of a vocal leader could be beneficial for the whole team, Kan said.

“I’m happy with some of the things I’ve done, but at the same time I know there are things I need to work on,” she said. “There’s more for me to do.”

As the Tigers entered SEC play this weekend, it started the true season for Mizzou. At a team meeting last week, Little talked to her teammates about splitting the season into three distinct sections: preseason, season and postseason.

With nonconference play — the “preseason” — over, it’s time for them to stay focused.

The Tigers finished 9-5 in nonconference play through four tournaments and a home match. Little said she wasn’t terribly disappointed with the start, but she believes SEC play will give the Tigers a chance to put it all behind them.

“We’re looking at it kind of like a clean slate,” Little said. “Now that the preseason is over, this is the real season. We’re coming into it with a new attitude and a little bit of pride, too.”

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