After a stellar weekend in the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament beating overall fifth seed UNI and Northwestern, the Missouri volleyball team couldn’t find a way to connect in the regional semifinal against overall 12th seed Duke.
“We came out, and we fought hard, but it just wasn’t our night,” senior middle blocker Catie Wilson said.
The Tigers dropped three sets to one against the Blue Devils (25-19, 21-25, 25-19, 25-22) in the Sweet 16 matchup.
“Overall, it was definitely a battle,” senior outside hitter Julianna Klein said. “It was kind of an off night for us. It just wasn’t quite clicking.”
For the Tigers, the Duke team's block presented a challenge, as did their slide hitting.
“They saw our block really well and had quick arms,” Klein said. “It was tough to defend.”
The Blue Devils’ defense carried them throughout the match, as they completed 75 total digs compared to Missouri’s 54 total digs.
Senior outside hitter Paola Ampudia led the Tigers with 21 kills, and freshman setter Molly Kreklow added 47 assists. Senior libero Caitlyn Vann led the Tigers’ defense with 16 digs.
“We would have a good pass and a good set, and then we would hit it out of bounds. We were never all on the same page at the same time,” Wilson said.
With the loss to Duke, Missouri’s season has ended. For Wilson, who is a senior, her focus will shift to graduate school where she plans to study physical therapy. In the future, she would like to coach volleyball starting at the club level.
Klein, who is also a senior, plans to pursue a volleyball career by playing internationally, possibly in Puerto Rico where she has connections with friends who have played in leagues there.
Looking back on the season, which saw the Tigers in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007 and the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005, Wilson and Klein are both extremely pleased with what the team was able to accomplish.
“Overall, I’m very happy. Everybody wants to go to the Sweet 16,” Klein said. “But never in our wildest dreams did we think we would end up here.”