COLUMBIA — Waiting for the whistle to signal Missouri’s serve, Lisa Henning stares through the net at her opponents, unmoving.
Sporting rosy red cheeks from completing attack after attack, you can almost see her thinking, predicting what plays will be run from her position on the left side of the court.
“Basically, every step, I think through,” Henning said. “Because if you think about it, then you’re more likely to do it.”
Henning, a freshman outside hitter, helped the Missouri volleyball team maintain focus throughout a lackluster 23-25, 25-17, 25-19, 25-19 win against Texas Tech on Wednesday. Henning's solid play stood out, despite the team's uninspiring performance.
“She listens. She works. She’s thinking about things when she’s playing,” head coach Wayne Kreklow said.
Kreklow has noticed Henning's volleyball knowledge and ability since she was switched from her high school position of middle blocker to the outside hitter and right side hitter positions for Missouri.
The middle blocker is a fast-paced position, but the outside hitter and right side hitter positions require the hitter to receive higher sets and take longer approaches to hit the ball. Henning has to think more about timing and ball placement.
“She’s smart for a freshman,” said senior middle blocker Catie Wilson.
Wilson explained that it’s hard to adjust to collegiate play as a freshman, but Henning has done so with maturity and is continually expanding her knowledge of the game.
This was evident during the third set. With three quick steps, right, left, right, Henning got in position to spike a set from Molly Kreklow. Her motion on the right side of the court was a combination of smart positioning and effortless athleticism, and she placed the ball down the right-line just barely in-bounds on Texas Tech’s side. The Raiders' defensive players were caught by surprise.
“Players with that kind of mentality … end up being pretty good because they’re really focused on getting better and getting things right,” Kreklow said.
On Wednesday, Henning completed 35 attacks, and 15 of those were kills. No matter what position she was playing, her focus and determination led the Tigers to another victory.
“I like playing anywhere,” Henning said. “As long as I can contribute to the team.”