Volleyball undefeated at home with Colorado defeat

Junior outside hitter Julianna Klein's big night helped Missouri triumph.
Sophomore Annie Lopez serves the ball to the Colorado Buffaloes on Wednesday at the Hearnes Center. The Tigers won the meet three sets to one.

There seemed to be nothing Colorado could do to tame the Missouri attack on Wednesday night at the Hearnes Center as the Tigers beat the Buffaloes 3-1 (25-15, 25-14, 25-27, 25-18).

Junior outside hitter Julianna Klein scored 22 of the team's total points, including eight aces.

"That really set the tone and when you get those points and you're playing at home and a team that's struggling a little bit, it can be really significant," coach Wayne Kreklow said.

The Tigers (11-6, 3-3 Big 12) dominated the Colorado (5-11, 0-7 Big 12) defense with a .253 hitting percentage through four sets and dominant blocking play at the net.

The Missouri attack proved too powerful with a quartet of junior outside hitters aiming where they wanted to drop the ball and accurately completing the point.

"Tonight we served tough and they don't have the middle and we all kept blocking with double blocks and we also passed well," senior setter Lei Wang-Francisco said.

Wang-Francisco finished with 43 assists, including four kills on 10 attacks.

With powerful strikes from Klein, junior outside hitter Paola Ampudia and junior middle blocker Rosa Medrano, the Buffaloes could not keep a handle on their returns. Junior middle blocker Catie Wilson was also able to drop the ball into the center of the court without Colorado coverage.

Klein recorded 14 aces on 50 total attacks while committing three errors.

"Be smart, do something with it, don't blast the ball," Klein said of her consistent play. "Lately I've really been working on it to reduce my errors."

Wilson continued her offensive dominance from the past few Big 12 matches to start off with a one-swing point to put the Tigers on top. Wilson finished with 12 aces on 15 total attacks amounting to a .733 hitting percentage.

Missouri often caught Colorado off guard, forcing the Buffaloes to improvise their attacks. By the time the ball got back to the Colorado end of the court, it was often a point for the Tigers.

"There were a lot of things we did well," Kreklow said. "Colorado is struggling a little bit and it's tough when you get in a streak like that, it's hard to pull out of a tailspin."

The Tigers dominated the second set as they went up 2-0 with a 25-14 win.

Kreklow made a number of adjustments in the third set as the Tigers began to pull away, but a number of miscues from the Tigers brought a 19-11 lead to five chances at set point.

"I was trying to get some other people to play a little more and sometimes when you do that in volleyball it doesn't work," Kreklow said.

Wang-Francisco was put back into her position at setter to finish off the match late, and with the score at 24-24, she dished out six attacks in a row to Klein.

The Tigers were able to take that point but two mistakes at the net cost the Tigers the third set.

"It's probably my fault for making that many changes at one time, it disrupts the rhythm a little bit," Kreklow said.

The 26-25 third-set win for Colorado brought the Missouri lead to 2-1.

With the lineup restored in the fourth set, the Tigers won 25-18 with a .400 team hitting percentage.

Missouri will play Texas Tech on Saturday at the Hearnes Center.

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