Missouri volleyball team sweeps No. 21 Oklahoma in 'sweet' win

Saturday, October 29, 2011 | 10:41 p.m. CDT
From left, Missouri players Niki Collier, Jade Hayes, Melissa Hartsel, Emily Wilson and Whitney Little point their fingers up as a symbol for only needing one more point in the last game against Oklahoma on Saturday night at Hearnes Center. The Tigers showed a consistent amount of spirit and motivation for fellow team members throughout the game.

COLUMBIA — Over on the Missouri volleyball team's bench, freshman Niki Collier and senior Brittney Brimmage each put one finger in the air and bob their heads up and down.

Brimmage said they call this "putting their ones in the air." These words come from the rapper Nicki Minaj's song "Did It On 'Em." Minaj says put you twos in the air, but Brimmage and Collier changed the words to fit with volleyball.

It signals that Missouri is one point away from set or match point. 

"We just sing the song; I sing the beat," Brimmage said.

After clinching the match, the Tigers players on the bench storm onto the court with their arms up in the air. They know this win is big.

Sophomore Lisa Henning said it wasn't just a win. It was a win against a ranked team in three sets. Missouri beat No. 21 Oklahoma 25-21, 25-23, 25-23 on Saturday at Hearnes Center. It was the Tigers' first victory over a ranked opponent since they beat Northern Iowa in the first round of the NCAA tournament in 2010.

Henning said some of the upperclassmen know that the team will need wins like this one if they want to make the NCAA tournament. She said they have tried not to use terms such as must-win match to avoid putting more pressure on the freshmen.

With all the pressure on the team, some of the older players decided to have a team bonding activity on Friday night. They used Halloween as inspiration and went to a corn maze near Columbia as a team.

"Last night was just a way for everybody to come together and just have fun outside of volleyball," Brimmage said.

Missouri coach Wayne Kreklow joined in on the fun after the match ended. This is rare for Kreklow, who usually walks back to the locker room with a pad of paper that contains his notes from the match. This time, he walked up to his team, who was still gathered in the middle of the court, and had one word for the team's win against Oklahoma.

"Sweet," he said.

Kreklow said "sweet" has become a source of jokes, especially among older players. He said he only uses the word on special occasions, and a win over a ranked opponent is deserving.

Henning said her coach used sweet earlier in the year when the team won the Tiger Invitational.

Kreklow wasn't the only one to use sweet to describe this win though.

"Especially since it's Oklahoma, it's just a sweet feeling," Henning said.

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