COLUMBIA — For two weeks junior outside hitter Juliana Klein has been battling sickness. Whether it’s a lingering cold or the flu, she’s not sure. But it kept her sidelined for the first time Saturday night against Nebraska.
“It’s never fun to sit on the sidelines and have to watch my team out there play,” Klein said. “It’s really hard especially with a team like Nebraska. They’re a great team.”
The Tigers fell to Nebraska 25-17, 25-15, 21-25. 25-13, dropping their first home match of the season.
“It’s definitely no fun,” Klein said.” I wish that I could have been out there defending the court, helping my teammates. We take so much pride in winning at home. It hits that much harder when we lose at home.”
Without Klein, the Tigers’ leading hitter, coach Wayne Kreklow was forced to make some major adjustments.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to make those changes,” Kreklow said. “When we found out yesterday that she’s not going to be able to play today, it just gives you one practice to try to really go with a whole new look. Even though there’s only one change in there a little bit, one big change creates other subtle changes.”
For the first time in her career, junior middle blocker Weiwen Wang had to step out and play outside hitter. She had eight kills on the night, but was disappointed with her performance after the match.
“Nobody else on the team could play outside, so I had to step out to help the team,” Wang said. “Even though I’m not very good at that, I’m trying my best out there. As a middle I’m always hitting early. Sometimes I’m still not used to it when I’m on the outside. I’m still hitting a little bit early and I’m not very good at it.”
Considering the late switch and tough competition, Kreklow was pleased with how Wang played.
“She got kind of thrown into a tough spot,” Kreklow said. “I was really proud of her. I thought she did a really nice job of holding her own. On top of getting thrown out there the first time at left side hitter, you get thrown out against Nebraska, so it was a tough position for her to be in.”
And while the Tigers appeared upset after the loss, junior libero Caitlyn Vann was able to find a positive from the night.
“I’m just really proud of our team,” Vann said. “Losing one key player, a lot of teams would have just folded over and we didn’t do that. Everybody stepped up a little bit. We were in an uncomfortable position, but did the best with what we had.”
Still, Klein wonders what would have happened if she was out there.
“I did everything I could,” Klein said. “If I’m not out there on the floor, I’m trying to talk strategy, telling people they’re doing a great job. There’s only so much you can do sitting there. Whether or not I could contribute, I don’t know how things would turn out. I wish that I knew if I could have helped the team.”