Missouri volleyball team falls to No. 17 Florida in NCAA Tournament

Friday, December 2, 2011 | 10:16 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Same floor, same round, different result.

The Missouri volleyball team returned to the McLeod Center, the same gym where the Tigers upset then fifth-seeded Northern Iowa last year in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

An upset didn't happen this season. 

Missouri lost to No. 17 Florida 23-25, 25-16, 25-20, 25-16 on Friday night in the first round of the tournament. 

Missouri won the first set but then dropped the next three, making too many mistakes to pull off the upset over Florida. The Tigers committed 26 errors in the match, compared to 18 by the Gators.  

Missouri's inexperience was evident. With eleven underclassmen — seven of whom are freshmen —Missouri was the youngest team in the NCAA Tournament.

Missouri head coach Wayne Kreklow said Florida's experience created a disadvantage for the Tigers throughout the match.

"I felt like at times we played well, but it is tough for a young group of kids to function in this kind of environment against a team that's that good," Kreklow said in a post-game news conference.

One bright spot for the Tigers was the play of sophomore Lisa Henning. With a team-high 16 kills, Henning broke a Missouri single-season record with 523 kills. Freshman Whitney Little had five blocks in the match to give her 138 on the season, tying her with former Tiger Christi Myers for most blocks in a single season for Missouri. 

Missouri ends its season 21-13 after the loss to Florida. The Tigers lose seniors Priscilla Armendariz and Brittney Brimmage to graduation. Armendariz had 13 digs and Brimmage had 8 kills in their final match for Missouri.

Sophomore Molly Kreklow, visibly upset after the loss to Florida, had a positive outlook for next season. 

"It's a sad day, but we look ahead to the future. I am pretty excited about it," she said . 

Kreklow, who had a team-high 17 digs in the match, said she is proud of how the young players have grown over the season. Two freshmen performed well along the back line of the Tiger defense on Friday:  Sarah Meister tied a career best with 14 digs and Jade Hayes had 9 digs. 

Henning agreed with Molly Kreklow's assessment. 

"Even though we are losing Brittney (Brimmage) and Pip (Armendariz), we're going to be a really strong team next year, since we're only losing two seniors," Henning said. 

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