Volleyball team begins SEC play with 2-0 start

Coach Wayne Kreklow “couldn't be happier” with volleyball team’s 2-0 SEC start.
Missouri Tigers volleyball players celebrate after winning their match against the Florida Gators 3-2 on Sept. 30, 2015, at Hearnes Center in Columbia, Mo.

And the streak continues.

After kicking off conference play with a comeback against a top-10 Florida team, the volleyball squad extended its undefeated streak in the Southeastern Conference to 2-0 against the Tennessee Volunteers. Although Tennessee was not the top 10 team that Florida was, it was still an SEC team, and that called for the same mindset.

“Every team in the SEC is going to give you your best game, every game,” senior Regan Peltier said. “As we’ve seen, some of the teams that don’t normally do as well are beating some teams this year. You have to go out and have the mentality that you’re playing a top-10 team like Florida every time.”

After a handful of early errors, the team’s 17 kills and big blocks allowed them to close out the first game 25-17. However, the Tigers fell by a handful of points in the second game.

“In game two, they became the aggressor a little bit more than we did,” coach Kreklow said. “They were starting to control the ball a little better — we weren’t passing as well. The whole energy of the match shifted back over to their side: they were doing some good things; we were making unforced errors, which played into that.”

Following a discussion about managing errors and upping the energy, the team realized an “inevitable lull where we wait for them to make errors again and give us the game would not bring home a second win,” Kreklow said.

“This team is too good, too good to just give it to us — we have to earn it,” junior libero Alexa Ethridge said. “We’re not good enough to just go out there and play average. We have to go 100 percent to beat any team.”

But they did not continue to play average. With only one error in the third game, the team was able to create and hold a significant lead, finishing the game ahead by eight.

This success expanded to the fourth set, where the team continued “eliminating unforced errors” and “forcing them to earn points,” Kreklow said. Maintaining a consistent lead, the team was able to achieve its second home win in only four sets, a feat that shows its consistency is growing. This aspect of the game is “huge” for them, Etheridge said.

“We’re a younger team, so I think that comes with experience, with every point of every game of every match coming out with our all,” Etheridge said. “I was proud of how we came out in that fourth game particularly. We took it seriously and got it done.”

When “every night is big,” according to Etheridge, a 2-0 start in a conference like the SEC is vital to a team’s success. For Peltier, it's a “big confidence booster” and a signifier that “we’re in it this year to win conference.” Kreklow shares the same optimistic view.

“Any time you can do it at home, it's huge,” Kreklow said. “For us to come out of this homestand at 2-0, knowing we played Florida and Tennessee, I couldn’t be happier. Its really big — it's really important. It's going to be dog-eat-dog in the league. You see it — people are all over the place. All you can do is focus on that next one.”

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