No. 5 UF volleyball shut out by No. 7 Mizzou
Published: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 11:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 15, 2013 at 11:12 p.m.
Led by a terrific all-around performance from senior setter Molly Kreklow and placing three players in double-digit digs, No. 7 Missouri took a major step toward its first SEC title and remained undefeated by downing No. 5 Florida, 3-0, in the first SEC match in the O'Connell Center between two top-10 teams.
The Tigers (30-0, 14-0), enjoying their best season in program history, won by scores of 25-22, 25-23, 25-23 before an O'Dome crowd of 5,023 to remain undefeated, while the Gators (23-3, 12-2), the preseason SEC favorites and winners of 20 of the last 22 league crowns, fell two games back with four matches left in the regular season after losing for the first time at home this year.
“I think the difference in the match was Molly Kreklow, their setter,” coach Mary Wise said. “She just was terrific in terms of the tempo that she set. It was like a quarterback who didn't miss a single throw and made all the right calls. She's surrounded by great talent, but she's pretty special.”
Despite it being a three-set match, Kreklow, the niece of Missouri head coach Wayne Kreklow, threatened to post a triple-double before finishing with 32 assists, 10 digs, and seven kills while hitting at a .600 mark.
Freshman Carly Kan and junior Sarah Meister each had 12 digs to help the Tigers to a 46-34 edge in that category, and senior outside hitter Lisa Henning got into the act late to finish with a match-high 17 kills and a .500 hitting mark. Nine of her kills came in the final set, capped by the match-clincher.
The Gators, who had 11 service errors and just one ace, got a stellar effort from reigning SEC Player of the Year Chloe Mann. The senior middle blocker and former Eastside standout finished the match with 16 kills, no errors, a .696 hitting percentage and three blocks, while sophomore Ziva Recek had 12 kills and a team-high nine digs.
“Statistically we hung with them in terms of our offense,” Wise said. “Chloe was pretty special tonight.
"Offensively, we were right there. After the first set, the service errors came back to the more normal range, but the difference was the speed of their offense didn't allow us to make many digs. Their back-row play was really good, and it's just tough to defend against that fast of an offense.”
Much like the first meeting last month that the Tigers won 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 25-23, 25-18) on their home court, Florida certainly had chances.
UF led late in the first set, 22-20, before the Tigers scored the last five points to take a 1-0 lead, and the Gators were tied at 23-all in the second and third sets, only to watch Missouri close out set two on a UF attack error and a kill by junior Emily Wilson and pull out set three on back-to-back kills by Henning and Kreklow.
“They won all the big points at the end of each set,” Wise said. “That's happened six times now.
“Credit Missouri, the poise with which they play and their talent. They're in a really good position to win the league.”
The Gators are not discouraged.
“It's just figuring out a way to be consistent and figuring out a way to finish the game,” said sophomore setter Mackenzie Dagostino. “That's what Missouri did really well.”
Wise credited the crowd, the 10th-largest in history, for their efforts.
“It was just a terrific environment to play in,” she said. “It has been years. We'd get that kind of match pre-conference or maybe in the NCAAs, but now it is part of the SEC.
“I was thrilled with the crowd. They were into it; they were terrific. I'm just disappointed that we couldn't extend the match.”
UF closes out its three-match homestand against Alabama (21-7, 8-5) Sunday at 2 p.m.