Outgoing personalities create bond between teammates on Missouri volleyball team

Monday, October 10, 2011 | 10:40 p.m. CDT; updated 10:52 p.m. CDT, Monday, October 10, 2011
Missouri freshman outside hitter Emily Wilson goes up for a shot during practice Monday. The Tigers take on archrival Kansas in Columbia on Wednesday.

COLUMBIA — Whitney Little is barely able to keep from bursting into laughter when she tells the story.

In the locker room after one of the Missouri volleyball team's practices, Little couldn't resist asking her teammates if they had seen the purple giraffe running around campus earlier that day.

Teammate Emily Wilson responded quickly, acknowledging that she had seen it, too.

This farce is a good example of the kind of personality Little and Wilson — two of seven freshmen on the Tigers' squad this season — have found makes them good friends.

"She (Wilson) would go with it and say 'Oh, yeah the purple giraffe,'" Little said.

Wilson laughed about the purple giraffe and said that Little and her will often say something that has nothing to do with the conversation in the locker room.

The pair have two of the more outgoing personalities on the Missouri volleyball team. They aren't afraid to be seen as odd by their teammates. Little said that their outgoing personalities have made them closer.

"She (Wilson) is funny and goofy and just all around crazy," Little said. "I guess we just mesh."

Wilson said the same things about Little, alluding to her friend's ability to keep a straight face even when she sees a purple giraffe on campus.

On the surface, Wilson and Little don't appear to be a great match. Little comes from Texas, where football rules the state. On the other hand, Wilson comes from Nebraska, a state that loves its volleyball players.

"In Nebraska, if you play volleyball, that's something really cool," Wilson said. "Every Sunday that's what I spent my whole day doing."

As for how this relationship started, Wilson and Little said they saw what they had in common almost from the beginning of summer camp. Little said most of the other freshmen on the team were shy.

"Whenever you see an outgoing person, you're like 'Hey, what's up,'" Little said.

Wilson, an outside hitter, and Little, a middle blocker, are both front line players and have to work together and communicate on the court. Their off-court relationship is important to on-court success.

Wilson said she enjoys Little's easygoing, sometimes goofy, personality because it helps her when she's struggling on the volleyball court.

"I'll go talk to her (Little) because I know she'll be happy and have some good advice for me," Wilson said.

Little and Wilson have made it a habit to reserve Sundays for hanging out together. They call these gatherings "Sunday dates." Most of the time they go to the MU Student Center for lunch and then walk around campus to seek each others' advice about volleyball or other things happening in their lives.

Although Little and Wilson are close to one another off the court, they said that most of the freshmen spend time together. Wilson said they go over to Little and teammate Katie O'Brien's dorm room for movie night, where there's a big screen television. Next Sunday night's movie picks are already planned out. Wilson said they will watch "The Crazies" and "Bridesmaids."

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