MU volleyball opens season with tournament title

Saturday, August 28, 2010 | 9:25 p.m. CDT; updated 11:57 p.m. CDT, Saturday, August 28, 2010

 COLUMBIA — Without dropping a single set in three games, the Missouri volleyball team won the Tiger Invitational tournament Saturday night at Hearnes Center.

After beating Utah State 25-18, 25-12, 25-21 in their final game of the event, the Tigers joined the student cheering section to celebrate and belt out the MU alma mater. Missouri swept Maryland on Friday and Nevada earlier Saturday.

“Everyone did a really good job,” senior Caitlyn Vann said. “It was a whole team effort.”

Vann, a libero, and Brittany Brimmage, an outside hitter, were both named to the All-Tournament team.

Freshman setter Molly Kreklow, who was playing with an injury, was named MVP of the tournament. Kreklow dislocated her right pinky finger during practice nearly three weeks ago, but she is expected to be healthy by next week.

A rare sight in college volleyball, Kreklow served underhand for all three matches. When she went up to block, she was only able to use her left hand in order to protect her healing right hand.

"It's a little difficult sometimes because obviously I want to bring my right hand up, but I have to make myself just put one hand up and just try to do the best I can with just one hand." Kreklow said.

“To really establish yourself as an elite player in that position, the mental part is really huge,” said Missouri head coach Wayne Kreklow, who is Molly Kreklow's uncle. “She’s not your typical 18-year-old first-year freshman out there.”

Molly Kreklow put up 35 assists during the Nevada game earlier on Saturday and 38 assists during the Utah Valley game in the evening.

"Molly ran the show really nicely. I was really surprised with how awesome she was," Vann said.

Kreklow wasn't shy about tipping the ball over the net for a kill when the opportunity presented itself. She earned two kills in both the Nevada and Utah Valley games this weekend.

This is the sixth Tiger Invitational title that the team has won.

“We did a really good job controlling the ball,” Vann said. “The things we’ve been working on really paid off.”

The Tigers return to the court next Friday and Saturday at the Pepperdine Asics Challenge  in Malibu, Calif.

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