MU basketball player Ricky Kreklow followed progress of MU volleyball team Friday

Friday, December 10, 2010 | 9:28 p.m. CST

Ricky Kreklow clapped his hands and smiled when he heard the news. The Missouri men’s basketball team had just finished its final practice before Saturday’s game against Presbyterian. Kreklow, however, was smiling about another game.

“They won? Yeah…Elite Eight,” Kreklow said, moments after finding out the Missouri volleyball team had battled back to tie Duke 1-1 in its Sweet 16 game of the NCAA Tournament.

His celebration was premature. Missouri went on to lose to Duke 3-1 on the campus of Penn State University, denying the team’s chance to advance to the Elite Eight. But, at the time, Ricky Kreklow was happy for his family.

His father, Wayne Kreklow, is the head coach of the Missouri volleyball team and his mother, Susan Kreklow, is the director of volleyball operations. The couple has coached college volleyball together since 1990, moving from Columbia College to MU in 2000. Ricky Kreklow’s family ties to the team don’t end there. His cousin, Molly Kreklow, is the team’s starting setter. Both are freshmen, but they also have something else in common.

“Growing up, I always wanted to be a setter,” Ricky Kreklow said.

He learned to play volleyball while growing up around the practices his parents coached, eventually losing some of his interest in the sport due to so much exposure. Instead, he decided to pursue basketball, the sport his father won an NBA national championship in with the Boston Celtics during the 1980-1981 season.

Since becoming a student at MU, Ricky Kreklow has started to enjoy volleyball in a different way, this time as a fan. He attends home games to cheer on his parents and his cousin. While he never played organized volleyball, the 6-foot-6 guard can be found setting and spiking on the sand courts near Stankowski Field when the weather is warmer.

He usually plays with friends from high school, former teammates from the Rock Bridge High School boys basketball team. He earned all-state honors twice while playing basketball for the Bruins. This year, he will try to recruit some of his Missouri teammates to join him in the sand.

“Laurence (Bowers) is just long. He would be hard to hit over,” Ricky Kreklow said. “Laurence and Kim (English) would be the two best players behind me.”

Catching Ricky Kreklow’s volleyball skills on the basketball court can be tough.

During a scrimmage at Friday’s practice, Matt Pressey set up an offense while standing at the top of the court. He then passed the ball to his right, toward Ricky Kreklow. Meanwhile, Jarrett Sutton was setting up behind the 3-point line in the corner of the same side. Pressey’s pass was to Ricky Kreklow, but the ball didn’t stop until Sutton had it in his hands.

If you blinked, you missed it.

The ball never touched Ricky Kreklow’s palms. Instead, it met his fingertips for just a moment before they exploded open, propelling the ball to Sutton in the corner. It was the perfect pass, a horizontal version of a volleyball set. Sutton made the shot. Ricky Kreklow earned an assist in less than a second.

“If I need to pass, I’m trying to think of the quickest way to get it from A to B. In that case, most of the time it can be a little touch pass, or something like a set,” Ricky Kreklow said.

This touch pass was the same pass displayed against Harris-Stowe earlier this season. Then, the pass led to a Ricardo Ratliffe fast-break dunk.

Since the end of exhibition games, Ricky Kreklow has spent less time on the court. This could change Saturday. After playing tougher opponents like Georgetown, Oregon, and Vanderbilt, Missouri’s game against Presbyterian (3-5) could mean more minutes for reserve players.

“I’ve got to keep working hard, earn my time on the court and take advantage of it,” Ricky Kreklow said.

He is patiently earning his time on the basketball court, and will be giving his parents some time to themselves after the Missouri volleyball team was bumped from the NCAA Tournament.

Letting out a small chuckle, but remaining serious, he said the final result of the volleyball game would determine if he called his parents after Friday’s basketball practice.

“If they win I will call, and if they lose, I’m gonna give them some time.”

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