MU volleyball loses to Nebraska

Sunday, October 12, 2008 | 4:34 p.m. CDT; updated 11:21 p.m. CDT, Sunday, October 12, 2008
Missouri's Weiwen Wang, left, and Annie Lopez collide casing down the ball in Sunday’s game against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers' coach, John Cook, said when Wang was not setting on the back row, the Tigers’ offense was a bit more predictable.

COLUMBIA — Nebraska coach John Cook said keeping his offense unpredictable was important in his team's sweep of Missouri on Sunday at Hearnes Center.

"We were trying to be balanced all over the place because they're such a great defensive team," Cook said. "So, if you just give them the same look all the time, they're going to dig you. And they dug us a lot already tonight."

Nebraska's leading attacker, sophomore outside hitter Tara Mueller, had 14 kills and accounted for about 28 percent of her team's total attacks. No. 2 Nebraska won the match 25-20, 25-21, 25-18.

Missouri coach Wayne Kreklow said his team has been working for the last month on offensive balance. Sophomore outside hitter, Julianna Klein was the Tigers' leading attacker Sunday. She had 16 kills on 43 total attacks, about 37 percent of the team's total.

"She's our go-to hitter," Kreklow said. "She's very consistent right now for us and we've got to use her. We've got to try to put her in different situations."

But Kreklow said he would like to spread the offense around a bit more.

"Ideally, you wouldn't want to see one person swing at that many balls," he said. "Because what that means is you start to become pretty predictable in your offense. And, when you start to do that it makes it easier to defend and that's not something you want to do."

Setter Lei Wang thought Nebraska seemed focused on Missouri's middle blockers, so she went outside to Klein often.

"They kind of gave up the outside," Wang said. "And I have to change my strategy for outside more rather than the middle."

Klein said she didn't think Nebraska was completely focused on just stopping her.

"I think that it (offensive balance) can become an issue if the other team is expecting that I'm going to get the ball every time," she said. "Once they start picking up on that, it becomes a problem. But as long as our blockers are split and defense isn't set for me, it's not a problem."

Even though she didn't think Nebraska was focused on one person, Klein said the Cornhuskers were still successful.

"I think that they were just ready for everything, not anything specific," she said.

Cook said that when Lei Wang was setting from the back row, his team wasn't able to focus on anyone because Missouri had three available hitters. But when Wang was in the front row, he said the offense was a bit more predictable.

"She was doing a nice job of using all of those hitters," Cook said. "When she was in the front row, we were able to gang up a little bit. But Klein had a big match, she played really well, and we've got to do a better job on her next time in Lincoln."

Looking for another hitter to balance the offense, Kreklow put in freshman Brittney Brimmage in the second and third games. Brimmage had four kills.

"We weren't having a lot of success swinging over there, and we weren't getting a lot of blocks over there really," Kreklow said. "So, sometimes you just try to put somebody else in, get a different look, get a different rhythm, give them something different to think about. And, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I thought Brittney came in and gave us a lift offensively, gave us another option."

Cook said his team knew Brimmage could come in.

"We'd seen her on tape, but we just didn't adjust very well to what she was doing," he said. "She made some nice kills."

The Tigers dropped to 8-9 overall and 2-5 in the Big 12. They play Kansas at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Hearnes Center.


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