COLUMBIA — On occasion in the Missouri volleyball team's locker room, Whitney Little and Katie O'Brien both wear a flashy pair of shorts with the Texas state flag on them.
"I know we chose to come to Missouri, but we still love Texas. That's our state," O'Brien said.
Kansas State (12-3, 1-0 Big 12)
at Missouri (14-4, 1-1 Big 12)
WHEN: 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Hearnes Center
Little, laughing for a second, said that the shorts have drawn the ire of teammates.
"Every time we wear them, everyone says 'they have the flags on again,'" Little said.
Little and O'Brien, two of seven freshmen on the team, play different positions on the court but have formed a close relationship off the court, which has helped in their transition to a new state and team. They were friends before they came to Missouri, however.
Although they went to different high schools in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, they played on the same club volleyball team, Texas Advantage Volleyball, since they were both 14 years old. Little is a middle blocker from Keller, Texas, and O'Brien is a outside hitter from Dallas, which are about one hour apart. They both admit they didn't hang out much in high school, except during volleyball tournaments, mostly because they lived so far apart.
"There wasn't a lot of hang-out time during the club season. And so, our hang-out time was at club," Little said.
Missouri coach Wayne Kreklow said that he doesn't see how Little and O'Brien interact off the court. He did, however, admit that having a close relationship with another player can help on the court.
"It's nice to have somebody who understands what you going through or how you feel," Kreklow said.
O'Brien said that their close relationship made the decision to come to Missouri much easier.
"It was comforting to know that someone from home was coming here," O'Brien said.
Little and O'Brien said the plan ever since they both committed to Missouri was to be roommates. They both laugh and joke about how it's worked out well so far. Little said that they go out on what she calls "roomie dates," during which they go out to dinner or get their nails done.
"Whenever we go somewhere, it's always us two," Little said.
Little and O'Brien said that their choice of shorts isn't the only thing their teammates make jokes about. While neither Little nor O'Brien speak with a southern accent, their teammates would poke fun at them, especially during the summer, when they said "y'all." This has changed, however, after Little and O'Brien joked about getting "California girls" Sarah Meister and Niki Collier to use "y'all."
Although Little and O'Brien say they have enjoyed their time in Missouri so far, they do point to some things about the state that are different from Texas, specifically the drivers. O'Brien said that Missouri drivers won't let you over when you're trying to change lanes, even if you have your turn signal on. Little sarcastically said there's no southern kindness in Missouri when it comes to driving.
On the volleyball court, Little and O'Brien have performed well in recent weeks. In last Saturday's match with Texas A&M, Little started and recorded three kills while O'Brien had eight.